Court sentences church accountant to 18 years for diverting N15.5m offering
A High Court in Yola yesterday sentenced the accountant of the Church of Brethren in Nigeria, Ibrahim Aku, to 18 years in prison for defrauding the church of N15.5 million. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had accused Aku of defrauding the church of N15.5 million between 2016 and 2018.
The EFCC, Gombe Zonal Office, secured the conviction of Aku before Justice Nathan Musa of the Adamawa State High Court. Aku, an accountant at EYN Church of Christ (Ekilisiyar Yen Uwa Nigeria), also known as Church of Brethren in Nigeria in the state faced a six-count charge, bordering on forgery and obtaining money by false pretence. He was investigated and prosecuted following a petition by the church through Rev. (Dr). Daniel Mbaya, Secretary General of the church. Investigations by the EFCC revealed that the money was generated by church members through offerings, donations and tithe.
The convict was entrusted by the church to deposit the church’s revenue into the church’s account with First Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc, but he ended up diverting same, and forged bank tellers to balance the financial books of the church.He was assisted to commit the crime by his friend, one Benefit Ishaku, currently at large, to whom he gave N500,000. His accomplice assisted him in forging the stamps of the banks, which were also used to perpetrate the fraud.He was prosecuted using the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006. He pleaded “guilty” to the charges. Prosecuting counsel, S.E. Okemini, thereafter, urged the court to convict him as charged.
Justice Musa thus pronounced him guilty and sentenced him to 18 years in prison, three years on each of the counts, to run concurrently. He was not given an option of fine.
The trial judge, further ordered that he refund the stolen money to the church as restitution, and that proceeds of the crime recovered from him in the course of investigation be sold by appointing valuers and the proceeds remitted to the church.
Speaking to newsmen after the verdict, Mr. Bello Bajoga, the Public Affairs Department of EFCC, said the judgment was “on course”.“The convict was entrusted with church money and he ended up diverting the money and forged tellers and presented same as genuine, to serve as evidence of payment of the remittance,” Bajoga said.
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