New Zealand psychiatrist Chidozie E. Onovo jailed for immigration fraud; withheld criminal conviction for drug smuggling

September 29, 2010


A Nigerian drug smuggler who lied to immigration officials and got a job as a hospital psychiatrist had a Certificate of Good Standing from the Irish Medical Council.

Chidozie Emmanuel Onovo, 40, was yesterday sentenced in Christchurch District Court to 16 months jail on three immigration fraud charges after he failed to declare his criminal history when applying for a New Zealand visa in 2008.

Onovo qualified as a doctor in Nigeria in 1996, worked in Ireland from 2004 until January 2009 and also received the Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (MRCPsych) qualification during this time, Canterbury District Health Board chief medical officer Dr Nigel Millar said.

He worked in general psychiatry for the Canterbury District Health Board from January 2009 until August this year.

Mr Millar said "there were no concerns raised about Onovo's competency or his treatment of patients.

"His credentials had met the criteria for the position - including a Certificate of Good Standing from the Irish Medical Council which showed at least three years of good practice in Ireland."

Referee checks with doctors who had worked with Onovo were made by the agency that CDHB used to fill his position.

Onovo resigned in August when the CDHB became aware of charges against him brought by the Immigration Department when he applied for residency.

In 1999, Onovo was jailed for two years for importing 4.5kg of cannabis into Britain.

In his residency application, Onovo forged letters from hospitals in Nigeria, claiming he was working when he was actually in prison.

Immigration NZ head Nigel Bickle said all non-New Zealand citizens applying to come to New Zealand are required to declare any criminal convictions.

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

Mr Millar said CDHB was reviewing its procedures to see if there is anything it could have done better.

Source: "Drug smuggling psychiatrist jailed," Manawatu Standard, September 30, 2010.


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