Justice Sherifah Solebo of the Special Offences Court siting in Ikeja, Lagos has convicted and sentenced Cletus Ilongwo, Presiding Pastor, Power of the Holy Ghost Evangelical Ministry, to seven years in prison for N59.7m fraud.
Ilongwo was first arraigned by the Lagos Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on November 5, 2018 on 11-count charges , to which he pleaded “not guilty”.
He was subsequently re-arraigned on June 16, 2022 on an amended seven-count charge bordering on obtaining money under false pretence to the tune of N59.7million.
One of the counts reads: “Cletus Ilongwo, on or about the 29th day of January, 2016, at Lagos, within the Ikeja Judicial Division, dishonestly converted to your own use the sum of N10millon, being money received through your Zenith Bank account from Obinna Ezenwaka meant for the purchase of the property situated at No 165c, Block 12, Diamond Estate, Amuwo-Odofin, Lagos.”
He again pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.
Prosecuting counsels: Ahmed Yerima, Nkemruwem Anana and Nwandu Ukoha presented several witnesses through whom documentary evidences were tendered in court against him.
One of the witnesses and victim, Obinna Ezenwaka, had, in his testimony, alleged that he was introduced to the defendant sometime in 2015 when he was seeking a solution to his “spiritual problem”.
Ezenwaka, also a former employee of Fidelity Bank Plc, claimed that Ilongwo lured him to part with N59,760,000 under the guise that he would use same to purchase a property located at Diamond Estate, Festac Town, with the assurance that they would resell it to a Chinese company at the cost of N150million.
The defendant, however, reneged on his promise, thereby prompting the complainant to petition the EFCC.
Delivering judgment on Thursday, Justice Solebo found him guilty on seven counts of fraud and stealing and sentenced him to seven years in prison for the N59.7million fraud.
The trial judge also ordered the forfeiture of his property situated at 3, Popoola Ajayi Street, Diamond Estate, Amuwo Odofin and his Toyota Prado Sports Utility Vehicle, to the Federal Government as a restitution to settle the complainant.