Drug smuggler hid past to get New Zealand hospital job

Thursday, September 30, 2010

WELLINGTON - A Nigerian drug smuggler who fooled immigration officials to get a job as a psychiatrist in a New Zealand hospital has been jailed for 16 months.

Chidozie Emmanuel Onovo, 40, was Wednesday sentenced by the Christchurch district court on three immigration fraud charges.

According to The New Zealand Herald, Onovo, who was imprisoned in 1999 for two years for importing 4.5 kg of cannabis into Britain, did not reveal his past record while applying for a New Zealand visa in December 2008.

After arriving in January last year, Onovo got a work permit and was employed as a psychiatrist by the Canterbury District Health Board.

Defence lawyer Errol Parsons had asked that Onovo be fined, saying his client wanted to leave New Zealand as soon as possible “for family reasons”.

But Judge Gary McAskill said Onovo’s crime challenged the integrity of the immigration system and required a sentence that would deter others from trying to dupe authorities.

“(Onovo) presented a job offer and seemingly credible documents, including references from Nigerian hospitals which, it turned out, were forged to cover for time when he was in jail in Britain for drug smuggling,” said Immigration New Zealand head Nigel Bickle.

“He failed to declare his history and our inquiries found him out,” Bickle said.

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