EFCC arrests bishop in Benin for allegedly operating Ponzi scheme
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested a bishop and suspected fraudster, Giniko Obi, in Benin City, Edo State, for allegedly defrauding thousands of people of various sums of money running into millions of naira.
The suspect allegedly collected the money from his victims in the guise of helping them to ‘fight poverty.’Obi, founder of Beloved Gideon Foundation, based in Agbor, Delta State, with outreaches in Bayelsa, Onitsha, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja, and Benin City, however, denied any involvement in fraud claiming that he was only “doing the will of God by trying to help people fight poverty.”
According to a statement by the acting EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade, in Abuja yesterday, Obi said it was his desire and God’s will to see people prosper that led him into operating what appears to be a Ponzi scheme.
Obi, who claimed to be a consecrated Bishop with a diploma in theology, explained that he was selling what he called nuggets for successful living to subscribers to the scheme.
He said: “We write books such as ‘24 Nuggets for Successful Living’, ‘36 Nuggets for Successful Living’, and ‘48 Nuggets for Successful Living’. We organise seminars and conferences on how to be successful and tell the people to subscribe to these publications. If you subscribe with N10,800, we give you N15,000. If you subscribe with N18,000, we give you N23,000. I had about 30,000 subscribers and I was paying them.”
According to him, when he left Agbor for Lagos, his desire was to expand his subscription base but his subscribers were impatient. “If they had allowed me to hold the conference in Lagos, I would have paid them,” he claimed.
However, some of his victims who thronged the EFCC office since his arrest, described him as a fraudster, claiming he defrauded them. A victim, Janet Okafor, reportedly told the EFCC that Obi claimed to be a representative of Gideon International, an organisation that distributes Bibles and Christian literature.
She said: “He organised seminars in Agbor market and claimed that he was from Gideon International and that their mission was to help eradicate poverty in Nigeria. He told us that unlike in the past when Gideon International distributed Bibles and Christian literature, their mission now was to eradicate poverty.”
On how she became a victim of the scheme, Okafor, 35, who claimed she had never participated in any ponzi scheme in the past said she fell for his tricks because “the Bishop swore with the Bible.
“The Bishop knelt down and swore with the Bible; he convinced us that he was from Texas, USA and we believed him. I subscribed with N10,800 and he paid me N15,000. It was after this that he engaged over 60 of us as canvassers. I brought many people including my relations and friends. All together, they invested over N5 million,” the victim was quoted as saying.
Another victim, Bessie Nwadibire, aged 67, said the Bishop was very deceptive from the beginning. “When he came to the market he gave out drinks and dashed some people money as much as N50,000 as he said the poverty rate in Nigeria was too high,” Nwadibire said, praying that the EFCC help to get his trapped money.
Expressing gratitude that the EFCC has arrested the Bishop, she said: “Before he was arrested, we went into hiding, because all the people who invested their money into the business through me have threatened to kill me unless I refund their money. The money is over N8 million.”The suspect will soon be arraigned in court.
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