Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja has sentenced Nigerian pastor Afolabi Samuel of the Living Faith Church, aka Winner’s Chapel, to three years imprisonment for theft amounting 75,000 euros (N4.5m) in church money belonging to registered trustees of the church.
The pastor, who was the accountant and church’s treasurer, was arraigned before Justice Mojisola Dada on two counts of Conspiracy and stealing by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The Nigerian pastor and another individual by the name Blessing Kolawole, who remains at large, conspired and dishonestly stole the money and converted the same to personal expenses, EFCC said.
Anti-graft said Mr. Samuel was employed in the accounting department as church’s treasurer, while Mr. Kolawole was a worker at the University. The two connived together with others to take advantage of their positions and rob the church.
The offences contravened sections 278, 285 and 490 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State No. 11, 2011. Justice Dada delivered her judgement on Samuel, finding him guilty of the charges.
Rotimi Ogunwuyi, counsel to the convict noted that his client’s actions not only having embarrassed him but his family also, and pleaded with the court to have mercy.
The counsel stated that the convict had seen and realized his mistake, making him change his earlier plea from not guilty to guilty. He added that Samuel was responsible for his children’s education and care for his elderly parents.
The counsel’s efforts made the judge grant the convict an option of fine of N1m and ordered him to refund the sum of 75,000 euros and N2,358,000 to the church.