By Adenike Ayodele
Michael Udom, a 52-year-old pastor at Pinnacle of Praise Church, Lagos, on Tuesday appeared before an Ikeja Magistrates’ Court for allegedly defrauding his church members of N1.5 million on the pretext of coordinating a monthly contribution.
Udom, whose lives on No. 76 Ikorodu Rd., Fadeyi, Lagos, is charged with three counts of conspiracy, fraud and stealing.
The prosecution alleged the accused obtained a sum of N1.5 million from one Sylvia Nnamdi and Alfred Olugbenga, under the pretences of being a pastor and coordinator of one Ajor Thrift Association, a representation he knew to be false.
Police Sgt. Michael Unah told the court that the accused committed the offences with other two still at large sometimes in May at Fadeyi in Lagos.
He said the accused, who portrayed himself as a pastor and the coordinator of the Ajor Thrift Association to the complainants, convinced them to join the contribution but converted the sum of N1.5 million to his own personal use.
Unah said that the accused refused to give the complainants the money when it was their turn to collect.
The accused, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The Chief Magistrate, Mr A. A. Fashola, admitted the accused to bail in the sum of N200,000 with two sureties in like sum.
Fashola ordered that the sureties must be gainfully employed with an evidence of three years tax payment to the Lagos State Government and have their addresses verified by the court.
He also ordered that the sureties must be blood relations of the accused and also reside within the court’s jurisdiction.
The offences contravened Sections 287, 314 and 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015, (Revised).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Section 314 prescribes a 15-year jail term for false pretenses while section 287 provides seven years for stealing.
The Magistrate adjourned the case until Jan. 22 for mention.