June 25, 2024

Church accuses ex-member of alleged blackmail over vehicle gift, false debt

Catholic priests

By Esther Rewane

LAGOS—The leadership of Grace Nation Church, Lagos, has accused a former member, one Omolayo Ibukun Michael, of using the media to blackmail it over two vehicles he gifted the church about three years ago and now demanding their return.

In a statement yesterday, the legal representative of the church, Ilesanmi Akinwale acknowledged that Omolayo indeed gave the church two SUVs three years ago, out of his own freewill in an open church service, but denied owing him any amount for any transaction.

Akinwale stated that the church was shocked when Omolayo recently began to make a demand for the return of the two vehicles and a non-existent amount in debt, which he claimed the church owed him for the supply of diesel.

Akinwale, who further stated that the church never at any time solicited nor requested any gift from Omolayo, noted that the two vehicles were parked for over three years at the church premises until it decided to sell one and gift the second one to a member of the church.

The statement read: “Our attention has been drawn to attempts by one Omolayo Michael to use the police and the media to blackmail, intimidate and tarnish the image of Grace Nation Church over two vehicles, which he gave to the church.

“While we acknowledged that Omolayo indeed gave the church two SUVs out of his own freewill in an open church service three years ago, and earlier this year began to make a demand for the return of the said cars, we believe that it is important to make some clarifications over the matter in light of the attempts to use the media and the police to intimidate the church.

“Sometime in 2021, Omolayo in an open service gave two cars to the church as his modest way of expressing and appreciating God’s faithfulness in his life, family and business and, thereafter, gave the original documents of these vehicles to the church secretariat.

“For close to three years, the vehicles were really never in use and were parked in one spot until the church management decided that rather than allow the vehicles to rot, one of them should be sold and the proceeds remitted to the church coffers for the promulgation of the gospel.

“The church management also agreed that the second SUV should be given as a gift to a member in an effort to support and encourage its members.

“Sometime in March this year, Omolayo approached our Presiding Pastor for N10 million financial assistance stating that his business had not been doing quite well. As a church with the well-being of members at heart, efforts were made to assist him to obtain a loan from a bank.

“We were shocked when recently Omolayo petitioned the police claiming that the church refused to return the two vehicles and is owing him N50 million for the supply of diesel. We have also been inundated with calls from the media threatening to publish negative reports against the church.

“While we reiterate our commitment to stand by any of our church members going through difficult times, we will not sit back and allow anyone to damage our hard earned reputation and integrity through cheap blackmail, character assassination and extortion.

“We will also not hesitate to take all lawful steps to ensure that will seek redress in response to all the false allegations and shenanigans being deployed against us.”