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3 Celestial Church Leaders in Alleged N85.9m Fraud Saga

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Three Celestial Church of Christ (CCC) Leaders, John Rotimi Omotosho a.k.a Jorotom: Boye Olaniyan and Folashade Ogundipe, were today, arraigned before a Federal High court, Lagos, on charges of conspiracy, obtaining under false pretence and fraud of N85, 914, 500 million.

Also arraigned alongside the three chieftains of the Celestial Church of Christ, was a limited liability company,  Folafunmi Integrated Limited, belonging to the second defendant, Folashade.

The three defendants and the company were arraigned before Justice Ayokunle Faji’s Court by the men of Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (Force CIID), Annex, Alagbon, Ikoyi, Lagos.

The three defendants were accused of defrauding the church’s headquarters at Imeko, Ogun State, of the sum of N85, 914, 500 million, under false pretence of using the money for the church’s development.

To carried out the allegations, the police stated the defendants issued several Zenith Bank Plc cheques, which they used in withdrawing the money from the Church’s development project account with the bank.

The offences according to the police are   contrary to Sections 8(a),1(1)(a) and 1(1)(a)&(b)of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other fraud related offences Act, Laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2010. And punishable under section 1(3) of the same Act.

Arraigning the three defendants, today, the prosecutor, Mr. Ijeoma C. J., a Chief Superintended of Police (CSP) told Justice Faji of pending charge marked FHC/L/226c/2019, against the three defendants and urged the court to let the charge be read to them so that they can take the plea.

Though, counsel to the defendants, Olawale Okenile, while not opposing the reading of the charge and pleas of his clients been taken, informed the court charges were served on them recently and that he had filed their bail applications and same have been served.

Following the submissions made by the prosecutor and defendants’ counsel, Justice Faji ordered the reading of the four counts charge to the defendants. 

They however pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Following their not guilty plea, CSP Ijeoma, asked the court for a date for trial, while also asked the court to remand the defendants pending the hearing and determination of their bail applications, as he told the court that he wants to respond to the applications.

The presiding judge asked if the defendants were admitted to administrative bail and if they jumped bail before being charged to court.

The prosecutor informed the court that the defendants, especially, refused to honour the bail terms and also wrote several petitions against the police. Though, when asked to support his submission with documentary evidence, the prosecutor, recanted and said he left the issue to the court’s discretion.

Consequently, Justice Faji, asked three members of the church to file an undertaken, affidavit of means and to produce Bond of N350, 000 for each, before the defendants can be allow to go home, failing which they will be remanded.

Justice Faji helds: “these members of the church, Adeosun Israel Oladipo, Assistant Shepherd, CCC, Jerusalem Cathedral, Shasha; Afolabi Tolorunloju and Surakatu John, workers at CCC, Jerusalem Cathedral, Shasha, shall file an undertaken to produce the defendants at the next adjourned date.

“In view of the issue, church and personalities in the matter, they shall be handed over to the three Church members, who will also produce Bond of N350, 000, each and a means of identification”.

Justice Faji, then adjourned the matter to March 6, for hearing of the defendants’ bail applications.

The count one against the defendants read: “that you John Rotimi Omotosho (M), Folashade Ogundipe (F) Boye Olaniyan (M) and Folafunmi Integrated Limited between 2006 and 2018, within the Lagos Judicial Division of the court, did conspired among yourselves to commit felony to wit; obtaining under false pretence, and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 8(a) of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other fraud related offences Act, Laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2010.

Count two; That you John Rotimi Omotosho (M), Folashade Ogundipe (F) Boye Olaniyan (M) and Folafunmi Integrated Limited,  between 2006 and 2018, within the Lagos Judicial Division of the court, with an intent to defraud Celestial Church of Christ, fraudulently obtained the sum of N79, 154, 500, million (seventy nine million, one hundred and fifty four thousand and five hundred Naira) drawn at different date in favour of Folashade Ogundipe with cheques from Zenith Bank Plc account number 1010529055 bearing the account name Imeko Cathedral Development Project Committee, under false pretence that you are using the money to develop Celestial Church of Christ, lmeko Cathedral, Ogun State, a representation that you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence Section 1(1)(a) and punishable under section 1(3) both of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, Laws Of the t ration of Nigeria, 2010.

Count three: “that you Folashade Ogundipe (f) in 2006 and 2018 within the Lagos Judicial Division under false pretence and with intent to defraud, fraudulently obtained the sum of N4,500,000:00 (Four Million Five Hundred Thousand Naira) from Zenith Bank Plc Account N0. 21010529055 bearing the account name Imeko Cathedral Development Project Committee, through 10 different cheques drawn in favour of Folafunmi Integrated Limited on the representation that you were using the money to develop Celestial Church Of Christ Cathedral Imeko Ogun State, property of the Celestial Church of Christ, a representation that you knew to be false, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(1)(a)&(b) and punishable under section 1(3) both of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2010.

Count four: “that you Boye Olaniyan (m) between 2006 to 2018 within the Lagos Judicial Division with intent to defraud the Celestial Church of Christ, fraudulently obtained the sum of N2, 260, 000.00 (Two Million, Two Hundred and Sixty Thousand Naira) from Zenith Bank Plc Account No: 1010529055 bearing the account name Imeko Cathedral Development Project Committee, through 28 different cheques drawn in your name, under the false pretence that you were using the money to facilitate the contract of the Church Cathedral Project and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(1)(a)&(b) and punishable under section 1(3) both of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2010”.

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