By Iyalla Adaye
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), have handed over N11.9 million recovered for the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) to the church leadership.
EFCC Zonal Head, South-south, Mr. Ishaq Salihu, who handed over the money in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, restated the commitment of the EFCC to burst any financial and economic scam, no matter how complex.
“Crime and criminality are not limited to any group of people. They have no creed, no gender and no religion. The RCCG is a large church and we are pleased to have been able to recover the stolen money for the church”, he said.
The money was stolen by a banker and the Account Officer of the church, Ameh Cyril Idakwoji, in a web of fraudulent diversion and suppression of the finances of the church.
Troubles started for Idakwoji when Access Bank Plc petitioned the EFCC about some missing funds in the accounts of one of its corporate customers in Port Harcourt.
The customer, Jepthah International School, East- West Road, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, could not access N37,000,000 in its account with the bank.
The bank traced the scam to one of its staff, Idakwoji and named him the mastermind of the fraudulent dealings.
Idakwoji doubled as the Account Officer of Jepthah International School and Redeemed Christian Church of God, Region 5, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
He defrauded the RCCG by suppressing and diverting cheques and cash meant for the Church to cover his shady deals in Jepthah International School.
He was covering up by giving fake statements of Accounts to both the school and the church and to execute his criminal schemes in RCCG, he forged the letter heads of the church’s Region 5 and the signatures of the Pastor in charge of the Region.
He also forged the signature of the church’s accountant and attached same to the August 2017 Salary Schedule of Jepthah International school to the tune of (N7, 129, 128. 78).
The Church denied giving instruction for the payment of the salary of the school. Investigations by the Commission uncovered all the criminal movements of the fund of the church by Idakwoji and a sum of N11, 987, 844.11 found to have been stolen have now been recovered and returned to the church.
While receiving the money Regional Ministers of the church, Pastor Mark Barango, commended the EFCC for being ‘an agent of transformation.’
“My impression with the work of the EFCC is that it is perfect, perfect, perfect. The EFCC is an agent of transformation. Their work is perfect and the church is grateful that the money is returned to us,” he said.
Renews manhunt for Maina over ‘pension fraud’
Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has said that the commission is determined to pursue the case against embattled former Chairman of the defunct Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Mr Abdulrasheed Maina, to a conclusive end.
The EFCC Boss speaking on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily said the commission has commenced the renewed investigation and will pursue the case to the end.
“We are determined to get to the root of this matter. That’s why we have renewed the investigation. We will retrieve all properties or whatever must have been stolen from public funds.
“This is something that we have done as far back as 2011. The matter has been in court, and Maina was also charged before the court. He was arraigned in absentia.”
Magu further stated that there are grey areas that need to be tackled appropriately, hence the need for the renewed investigation.
“There are real grey areas that need to be tacked properly. All those loopholes and gaps, we will follow it up and make sure all the people who are involved will face the full wrath of the law.”
He also said how Maina came back into the country despite being on EFCC watch list is a case that must be looked into.
“I really don’t know what happened. But I know that he has been properly placed on the watch list and he cannot sneak into this country without the law enforcement agencies. So, something is wrong somewhere. Actually, we need to look at that.”
Speaking on steps being taken by the EFCC to ensure Maina’s re-arrest, he said, “He has already been declared wanted by the INTERPOL and we are going to visit other countries for assistance, particularly Dubai, USA and UK. We are already on the manhunt, seriously.”