Nigeria News

Christ Embassy Pastor Chris Oyakhilome’s financial scandal file stolen from EFCC

chris-oyakilome(Codewit)Allegation of financial scandal against Chris Oyakhilome, pastor Christ Embassy Church, is messy indeed and it included how the file on the case was stolen from EFCC custody

He made headline news last week, for his alleged involvement in a $35 million money laundering crime in the country. And this week, he was expected to be arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Nigeria’s economic crime fighting agency, alongside some members of his church and bank officials for full interrogation. The man behind the brewing scandal, Chris Oyakhilome, tele-evangelist and head of Christ Embassy Church in Nigeria will still walk the streets, a free man for a little while.

Newswatch investigations revealed that the EFCC would not arrest and interrogate the flamboyant pastor and the others this week as expected because the file containing details of preliminary findings on them are missing from the crime agency’s headquarters in Abuja. Their arrest will come after alternative arrangements being put in place for a continuation of the case is perfected.

Femi Babafemi, EFCC’s head of Media, confirmed last week, that the EFCC was saved from what would have been a big embarrassment on the matter, by an electronic copy of the investigation report which it separately kept. “The EFCC has been on the case for some time now. But it was suddenly discovered that aspects of the investigation report were tampered with. It was an electronic copy that saved the situation, so changes and adjustments had to be made and additional investigations carried out by a new team before we can formally invite Pastor Chris and any other person or groups that has been implicated. It won’t be long any way”, Babafemi said.

Newswatch learnt that the missing file contained details of the sources of the allegedly laundered $35 million, as well as the process, including banks through which the money was laundered. The source revealed also that, the EFCC operators were yet to find answers to the critical question of what the funds were to be used for and who the beneficiaries will be.”The question will surely be among the issues to be raised with Oyakhilome and the others whenever they are interrogated by the operatives,” the EFCC sources said.

The sources said the investigators are curious to know about what the huge sum is meant for because the Federal government is worried about high level insecurity and drug related crimes in the country now. “You are aware that the country has been fighting gangs associated with gun running and drugs in the country. These are businesses and activities involving huge sums of foreign money movements, so any such money found to be in private hands is bound to attract the attention of security agencies in the country,” the source said.

 

By press time last week, details of what the EFCC has been able to establish against the Christ Embassy church leader remained unclear. Babafemi was reluctant to provide any clue during his chat with Newswatch. He only hinted that the details would shock and shake the country. “The case against Pastor Oyakhilome is about being concluded and will surely shock Nigerians to hear that a man widely respected and adored as a man of God is deeply involved in acts suspected to be inimical to the economy of his country,” he said.

{div width:200|height:100|float:left}{module Inside Advert 200×90|none}{/div}As the EFCC reassigns the case to a new team of investigators, Newswatch learnt that Faida Waziri Ibrahim , EFCC chairman also ordered an in-house inquiry into the case of the missing file. The chairman, is said to have suspected that some members of the first team that handled the matter may have either been compromised or are members of the church trying to protect the image and integrity of their church and pastor. You can be sure that the chairman will get to the root of the matter and heads will roll”, an EFCC official said.

Oyahkilome and his church are not strangers to allegations of financial crimes in the country. The first major allegation was in 2002 when Newswatch exclusively reported a N9 million Naira fraud at Sheraton Hotels and Towers, Ikeja, Lagos, involving Lawrence Agada, a staff of the hotel who is also a member of Oyakhilome’s church. Agada told the police after he was arrested that he used a substantial part of the stolen money to purchase a generator and some chairs which he donated to the church, and also to sponsor some programmes of the church.

In 2003, another member of the church called Gbenga Kehinde was also involved in a financial crime. Kehinde, then an assistant manager in Eko International Bank branch in Lagos, allegedly defrauded his bank to the tune of about N40 million. A quarter of the money he allegedly stole from the bank was reported to have been donated to the church.

Six years after, in 2009, another member of the church was arrested by the EFCC for internet fraud to the tune of about $96,607. Okoro Osagie, a.k.a. Jerry Finger, the internet fraudster, was alleged to have also given a large percentage of the fraud to Christs Embassy Church. In spite of the linkage of the dirty deals to his church, Oyakhilome has never, been prosecuted in court.

Anthony-Claret Onwutalobi
Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC and CEO of Portia Web Solutions. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websits. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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