By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting at Maitama, on Tuesday, awarded an aggregate sum of N540.5million to a cleric, Prophet Emmanuel Omale, who was falsely accused of helping the former Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu to launder funds abroad.
The Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets, PCARA, which probed assets recovered by the EFCC from May 2015 to May 2020, had in its report, alleged that Magu used prophet Omale to buy a landed property in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, worth N573million.
The Committee based its report on financial documents that was made available to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, by First City Monument Bank, FCMB.
The said report resurfaced during the investigation of Magu by the Justice Isa Salami-led presidential investigation panel.
The panel was told that an investigation by the NFIU revealed that Magu paid the N573m into Omale’s church’s account with which the property was allegedly bought in Dubai.
Meanwhile, determined to clear his name, Omale who is the founder of the Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry, took the matter to court.
Delivering judgement on the suit marked: FCT/HC/CV2541/2020, Justice Yusuf Halilu, held that the bank recklessly breached the duty of care it owe to the Claimants – Omale, his wife (Deborah) and their church.
Halilu held that evidence before the court showed that the bank admitted error in its report to the NFIU, of entries in Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry’s account.
The judge further held that the bank claimed that the purported N573m was wrongly reflected as credit entry in the church’s account by its reporting system, which it recently upgraded.
Justice Halilu noted that the bank admitted the error, which occasioned incalculable damage to the reputation of Pastor Omale, his wife and their church both within and outside the country.
He held that the claimants provided sufficient evidence to establish a case of negligence against the bank.
Consequently, the court proceeded to award N200m as aggravated damages; N140,500,000 as specific damages and N200m as general damages, in favour of the Claimants.
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