A Lagos-based pastor, Prophet Cletus Ilongwo, has been arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for alleged involvement in a N59.7m fraud.
Ilongwo, the Presiding Pastor of the Power of the Holy Ghost Evangelical Ministry, was brought before a Lagos State Special Offences Court for allegedly defrauding a former member of his congregation.
PUNCH Metro learnt that several security operatives stormed the church located in Shoba community in the Abule-Ado area of Lagos on Saturday to arrest Ilongwo.
It was gathered that the prophet was arrested over allegations of fraud levelled against him by the member of his church.
Our correspondent learnt that the suspect was initially arrested early this year by the police and the EFCC after a former member of the church reported that he defrauded him of N85m, which led to the loss of his job in one of the first generation banks in the country.
Ilongwo allegedly jumped bail and left his surety to languish in the EFCC detention, while efforts to re-arrest him proved abortive.
At Monday’s proceedings, llongwo, who was dressed in a long red robe, pleaded not guilty to the 11 counts charge bordering on fraud preferred against him.
The suspect was said to have received the said amount from one Obinna Ezenwaka at different times in 2016 on the pretext of helping him to purchase a property located at 165c, Diamond Estate, Amuwo-Odofin.
According to the EFCC, Ilongwo collected the sum in tranches through his Zenith Bank account 1003455899.
The charges read in part, “That you, Cletus Ilongwo, on January 29, 2016, at Lagos, within the Ikeja Juridical Division, dishonestly converted for your own use the sum of N10m, being money received through your Zenith Bank account number 1003495899 from Obinna Ezenwaka meant for the purchase of the property situated at No 165c, Block 12, Diamond Estate, Amuwo-Odofin, Lagos.”
In view of his plea, the prosecution counsel, Ahmed Yerima, applied for a date for the commencement of trial, while the defence counsel, P.N. Orji, informed the court about a pending bail application he filed on behalf of his client.
Yerima did not, however, oppose the bail application, but asked for time to respond to it.
The presiding judge, Justice Sherifat Solebo, adjourned the matter till November 14 and 19, respectively for hearing of the bail application and commencement of trial.
She ordered that Ilongwo be remanded in prison pending the approval of his bail application.
By Oluwatosin Omojuyigbe, Punch