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EFCC to arraign pastor nabbed for alleged N1.3bn fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has said it will arraign the General Overseer of Faith on the Rock Ministry International, Nasarawa State, Apostle Theophilus Ebonyi, whom it reportedly arrested for allegedly defrauding church members and other Nigerians as soon it concludes its investigation.

The anti-graft agency made this known in a statement tagged “EFCC Arrests Pastor for N1.3 Billion Fake Grants, Money Laundering” posted on its verified X handle, @officialEFCC, on Monday.

The statement said the pastor was arrested for allegedly using fake grants from the Ford Foundation to the tune of $1,319,040,274.31.

However, Ebonyi, in a Facebook Live video monitored by our correspondent on Monday evening claimed he was not arrested by the EFCC or any other organisation while faulting bloggers for being responsible for the “fake news”.

This was countered by the EFCC spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, who told PUNCH Metro exclusively that Ebonyi had been released on bail after his arrest in June 2023.

The statement partly read, “Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, have arrested the General Overseer of Faith on The Rock Ministry International, Apostle Theophilus Oloche Ebonyi, for defrauding church members and other Nigerians using fake grants from the Ford Foundation to the tune of N1,319,040,274.31 (one billion, three hundred and nineteen million, forty thousand, two hundred and seventy-four naira, and thirty-one kobo).

Ebonyi was arrested for defrauding his victims, comprising non-governmental organizations, NGOs, and individuals, by advertising an intervention project through his NGO (Theobarth Global Foundation), claiming that the Ford Foundation was offering a grant of $20,000,000 (twenty billion United States dollars) to assist the less-privileged in society.

“He allegedly beguiled his victims to subscribe as beneficiaries of the phony grant by asking them to pay for registration forms and clusters. Each subscriber was made to pay N1,800,000 (one million, eight hundred thousand Naira only). Through this arrangement, Ebonyi allegedly raked in N1,391,040,274.31.

“His subscribers are innocent and unsuspecting Nigerians and NGOs across the country.

“Investigations by the EFCC showed that the Ford Foundation had no arrangement, grant, relationship or business with Ebonyi.

“The Foundation pointedly disclaimed him and his NGO, stressing that it had no link whatsoever with them. The Commission has also traced five properties he acquired as a result of his criminal dealings.

“Ebonyi is still reportedly reaching his subscribers on some social media platforms to market his spurious grant from the Ford Foundation.

“He will be charged in court as soon as investigations are concluded.”

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