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N49.6m fraud: Court fixes Nov 19 to rule on Lagos prophet’s bail application

An Ikeja Special Offences Court has fixed Nov. 19 to rule on the bail application of Prophet Cletus Ilongwo, the founder of Power of the Holy Ghost Evangelical Ministry alias Tuesday Tuesday Church, accused of swindling a member of his church of N49.6million,

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Ilongwo, based in Lagos, was arrested on Nov. 3 by a team of policemen and officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over the alleged fraud.

He was remanded in prison custody by Justice Sherifat Solebo when he appeared in court on Nov. 5 following his ‘not guilty’ plea to an 11-count charge of unlawful conversion.

During the bail hearing, yesterday, Ilongwo’s new counsel, Mrs Titilola Akinlawon (SAN), urged the court to admit him to bail on the most liberal terms.

She said that Ilongwo was not in good health and had never been convicted of any crime.

Mr. Ahmed Yerima, the prosecutor for the EFCC, however, opposed Akinlawon’s application, urging the court to refuse the defendant bail.

He said that the prophet had previously jumped the administrative bail granted him at the anti-graft commission.

Reacting to the allegation of the EFCC, Akinlawon told the court that Ilongwo never jumped bail but had filed a civil case before the Lagos State High Court against the EFCC in respect of the allegations of fraud levelled against him.

She said: “The prosecution in the affidavit said the defendant jumped bail granted him at the Commission but failed to tell the court that in the interim, the defendant filed a civil case against them in respect of the matter.

“It is wrong for them to say that if the defendant is granted bail, he will not return for trial.

“I submit that the defendant, a man of God with over 3000 members in his congregation, would as a matter of necessity show good leadership by returning to this court for his trial.

“I will urge My Lord to use her discretion in favour of the defendant to grant him bail on liberal terms.”

Justice Solebo, after Akinlawon’s submission, adjourned the case until Nov. 19 for the ruling on the bail application and commencement of trial.

According to the EFCC, Ilongwo committed the offences between January and April 2016.

“Ilongwo collected the funds from one Obinna Ezenwaka on the pretext that he would help him purchase a property located at 165c, Diamond Estate Amuwo Odofin.

“He however failed to purchase the same property.

“The funds were collected from Ezenwaka through Ilongwo’s Zenith Bank account 1003455899,” Yerima said.

Ilongwo was previously arrested earlier in the year by the Police and EFCC after a former church member reported to the authorities that he was defrauded of N85 million by the prophet.

The alleged N85 million scam had led to the loss of the member’s job in one of the first generation banks in the country.

After Ilongwo was invited for interrogation, he jumped the anti-graft agency’s administrative bail and efforts made to re-arrest him failed until his surety was arrested.

He reportedly abandoned his surety to languish in EFCC detention, prompting a joint operation by EFCC and the Police to arrest him.

During the operation, which lasted for hours, members of his church allegedly confronted security agents with dangerous weapons, leading to the use of force to arrest him inside one of the rooms in the church.

 


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