In US, Nigerian clergyman faces charges over marriage, visa ‘fraud’

Pastor Joshua Olatokunbo Shonubi has been indicted over conspiracy to commit marriage and visa fraud by a Federal Grand Jury in Maryland, United States. 

The 50-year-old pastor of New Life City Church in Maryland appeared in the court on Thursday and was charged for leading a scheme to help foreign nationals fraudulently obtain permanent resident status through marriages to US citizens.

Shonubi has allegedly arranged approximately 60 fraudulent marriages between foreign nationals and American citizens from 2014 to 2021. It was reported that he received thousands of dollars to facilitate the marriages.

It was also revealed that Shonubi allegedly recruited and groomed US citizens with payments and promises of money for helping foreign nationals obtain permanent residency. 

He targeted economically disadvantaged citizens and officiated some of the marriages himself. 

“On at least 34 occasions, Shonubi also allegedly created false rental leases, listing Jaypro, a corporation he formed in 2015, as a landlord, to provide proof that the foreign national and US citizen were living together, when in fact, they were living separately,” the District of Maryland’s Department of Justice said in a statement.

Shonubi would face a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison over conspiracy to commit visa and marriage frauds and another maximum of five years for each count of presenting false documents to a federal government agency if convicted.