The trial of one Ayodeji Ibrahim Oluokun, a self-acclaimed pastor based in Lagos (pictured below), continued before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos State on March 30, 2021.
During the sitting, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, presented two more witnesses to testify against him.
Oluokun is standing trial alongside his company, Peak Petroleum Industry Nigeria Limited, on a six-count amended charge bordering on obtaining money by false pretence, stealing and issuance of dud cheques.
According to the prosecution, the charges contravenes Sections 1(1) (b) of the Dishonoured Cheques (Offences) Act, Cap D 11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; Section 285 (1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State and Section 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences.
When the charges were read to the pastor, he pleaded “not guilty”.
It is alleged that sometime in 2014, the pastor approached the management of GOSL Nigeria Limited for a loan in the sums of $1 million and $666,666, which he claimed he needed to enable him carry out operational activities in his company’s oil field in Bayelsa State.
He was also alleged to have given assurances to the firm that he would repay the money within one year.
However, the defendant, who reneged on his promise, issued two post-dated Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Limited cheques dated June 26, 2014, for the sum of $1 million and $666,666 respectively, which were returned unpaid.
Investigations by the EFCC, however, revealed that contrary to his claim, the monies he collected, were diverted to personal use, including procuring a Mausoleum at Vaults and Garden.
Led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, S.O. Daji, Chidi Chidiebere, a staff of Vaults and Gardens, Lagos who testified as the fourth witness, said that the defendant, indeed, procured a Mausoleum in which his late mother, Florence, was buried on November 23, 2012.
Hillary further testified that the total payment received from the defendant through Peak Petroleum for the services rendered amounted to N49, 676,666.
Testifying as the fifth prosecution witness, Ademola Adeyemi, a former banker, and managing director of Classic Sorting Nigeria Limited, a financial services company, told the court that he met the pastor at a church.
According to Adeyemi, in the course of their interaction, sometime in October 2013, Oluokun introduced himself as the managing director of Peak Petroleum Industries Limited and later told him that the company had an inflow of $500,000, which he would want him to help convert to Naira.
He noted that Classic Sorting was able to provide the Naira equivalent of N79, 500,000 at the rate of N159 to a dollar, and it was a purely business transaction between both companies.
“Classic Sorting is not into oil exploration and Pastor Oluokun and I never discussed anything about using the funds received for any oil business,” he said.
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo adjourned the matter until May 24 and 26, 2021.