Pastor docked over N15m fraud

A pastor of the Adventist Church, Omosebi Fred Adeola, on Tuesday dragged before a Federal High Court sitting in Apo, Abuja by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over N15 million fraud.

The suspect, who is also the Country Director of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency of Nigeria, was arraigned in court on an 11-count charge, which include conspiracy, abuse of office and diversion of N15,619,000 to personal use.

The anti-graft agency accused the suspect of diverting the Church`s relief funds to pay for his Ph.D programme in Babcock University and for illegally enlisting his wife on the payroll of the payroll.

The charge sheet read: ”That you OMOSEBI FRED ADEOLA, being an employee and the Country Director of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency of Nigeria, and in that capacity entrusted with the funds of the Agency, and being a signatory to the various bank accounts of the Agency, on or about the 13th December, 2017, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, did commit Criminal Breach of Trust by transferring the sum of Seven Million, Seven Hundred and Fourteen Thousand Naira (N7,714,000.00) from the account of Adventist Development and Relief Agency of Nigeria to the account of Ayeni Gbenga Joseph domiciled with Diamond/Access Bank with account number 0078083764.

“The fund was cashed and the sum of Two Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N2,500,000) was given to you cash by Ayeni Gbenga Joseph on your instruction, thus converting the said sum of N2,500,000.00 to your own use, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 311 of the Penal Code Law, Cap. 532, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Abuja), 1990, and punishable under the same Section 312 of the same Law.”

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Taking his plea, the accused person pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

The prosecuting counsel, Ibrahim Audu, asked the court for a trial date.

Audu also requested that the defendant be remanded in custody pending the commencement of trial in earnest.

But the defence counsel, E.G. Alala, notified the court of a pending bail application.

He prayed the court to grant his client bail in the most liberal terms, saying the defendant is a modest man of God, who has honoured all invitations by the EFCC.

The presiding judge, Justice A.O. Otaluka, granted the defendant bail in the sum of N10 million and two sureties in like sum.

The judge sruled that the sureties must be resident in Abuja, have a property worth N10 million and provide address of residence, adding that they must provide identification cards, passport photographs and N3 million as bond.

He adjourned the case till September 30, 2021 for trial.

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