Sat. Jul 31st, 2021

Alleged N89.5m Fraud: New Judge Takes Over Trial Of 3 Celestial Church’s Leaders

Alleged N89.5m Fraud: New Judge Takes Over Trial Of 3 Celestial Church’s Leaders

The case file of three members of Celestial Church of Christ (CCC), who standing trial before a Federal High Court, Lagos, has been reassigned to another judge.

The three persons standing trial on the alleged fraud are: John Rotimi Omotosho (Jorotom), Folashade Ogundipe, Boye Olaniyan and a limited liability company,  Folafunmi Integrated Limited, owned by the second defendant, Ogundipe.

The defendants were first arraigned before the court presided over by Justice Ayokunle Faji on February 17, 2020, on charge bordering on conspiracy, obtaining under false pretence and fraud, by the men of Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (ForceCIID), Abuja.

They 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 commit the alleged fraud, the Police stated that 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 prosecutor, Mr. C. Ijeoma, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) are contrary to Sections 8(a), 1(1)(a) and 1(1)(a) &(b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other fraud related offences Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2010 punishable under section 1(3) of the same Act.

They have all pleaded not guilty to the allegation.

However, Justice Faji, while admitting the defendants to bail, signified his intention to ‘recuse’ himself from charges against the three Celestial Church Chiefs, for personal reasons.

Consequently, the Justice Faji, while adjourning the trial of the defendants to March 6, immediately returned the case file to the Court’s Chief Judge for reassignment to another judge.

However, the prosecutor, CSP Ijeoma, on Friday, confirmed that the defendants’ case as been re-arraigned to Justice Nicholas Oweibo’s led court, where their pleas on the fraud allegations will be taken on a date to be communicated to the parties. 

Count one of the change in charge number FHC/L/226c/2019, 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 reads; “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 reads: “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. 

And 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”.