An accountant with a church in Adamawa State has been sentenced to 18 years imprisonment for stealing the sum of N15.5 million belonging to the religious body.
The man, Ibrahim Aku, an accountant, was sentenced by Justice Nathan Musa of the Adamawa State High Court after being arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) based on a petition by the General Officier of Ekilisiyar Yen Uwa Nigeria, EYN, Church of Brethren in Nigeria bordering on forgery and obtaining money by false pretence.
Aku was investigated and prosecuted following a petition by the church through Rev Daniel Mbaya and Secretary-General of the Church alleging that Aku defrauded the church of N15.5million between 2016 and 2018.
The EFCC told the court that its investigations had confirmed that the money stolen by Aku was generated by the church members through offerings, donations and tithes.
The convict was entrusted by the church to deposit the church’s revenue into its accounts but he ended up diverting same and forged bank tellers to balance the financial books.
The agency said that Aku was assisted to commit the crime by his friend, one Benefit Ishaku currently at large to whom he gave N500,000. His accomplice assisted him in forging the stamps of the banks, which were also used to perpetuate the fraud.
He was prosecuted using the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.
He pleaded “guilty” to the charges.
Prosecuting counsel, S.E. Okemini, thereafter, urged the court to convict him as charged.
Justice Musa, thus, pronounced him guilty and sentenced him to 18 years in prison – three years on each of the counts, to run concurrently. He was not given an option of fine.
The trial judge also ordered him to refund the stolen fund to the church while the proceeds of the crime recovered from him should be sold and the proceeds remitted to the Church.