A popular pastor identified as Omosebi Fred Adeola has been arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday before Justice A.O Otaluka of the Federal High Court in Apo, Abuja for diverting church funds.
The cleric faces an 11-count charge bordering on conspiracy, abuse of office and diversion of N15,619,000.
Adeola is a Pastor of the Adventist Church and Country Director of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency of Nigeria.
The EFCC said the man of God allegedly diverted relief funds for himself, including paying for his PhD programme at Babcock University and illegally enlisting his wife on the church’s payroll.
Count two of the charge said being a signatory to the various bank accounts, around 13th December 2017, in Abuja, Adeola committed criminal breach of trust.
He first transferred N7,714,000 from the account of Adventist Development and Relief Agency of Nigeria to the account of one Ayeni Gbenga Joseph.
After the money was cashed on Adeola’s instruction, he converted the same to personal use.
The offence and others are 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.
The pastor pleaded “not guilty” to all the charges.
Prosecution counsel, Ibrahim Audu asked the court for a trial date and requested that the defendant be remanded in custody pending trial.
Defence counsel, E. G. Alala notified of a pending bail application, and prayed the court to grant his client bail as he is “a modest man of God who honoured EFCC invitations”.
Justice Otaluka granted Adeola bail in the sum of N10m and two sureties in like sum.
The sureties must be residents in Abuja, have a property worth N10m and provide addresses of residence.
They must provide identity cards, passport photographs and N3 million as bonds. The case was adjourned until September 30, 2021, for trial.