On Wednesday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has handed over two cheque totalling N11.9 million to a parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Rivers State.
The amount was said to have been stolen by a deacon of the RCCG, Cyril Idakwoji.
The South-South Zonal Head of the EFCC, Mr. Ishaq Salihu, explained on Wednesday that Idakwoji, a former employee of Access Bank, was the account officer of the church for the bank.
He said the suspect diverted the church funds to private use instead of transferring them to the church’s bank account.
Handing over the cheques to the pastor-in-charge of Province 4 of the RCCG, Salihu said, “He (suspect) forged the letterheads of the church’s region 5 and the signature of the pastor in charge of the region. He also forged the signature of the church’s accountant to execute his criminal schemes in the RCCG.”
The stolen funds were paid back by the bank, which had sacked the suspect.
Speaking after receiving the cheques from the anti-graft agency, the Pastor of Province 4 of the RCCG, Port Harcourt, Mr. Mark Barango, commended the EFCC for ensuring that the money was recovered.
Expressing surprise that Idakwoji, who was a deacon in the RCCG, could be involved in fraud, Barango said, “He (suspect) was the account officer assigned by the bank to us. He was also a member of the church. EFCC is an agent of transformation. I thank the EFCC for helping us to recover the money.”
Salihu also said the EFCC had earlier recovered N36m belonging to Jephthah International School, which was also stolen by Idakwoji.
Idakwoji, according to the EFCC zonal head, was also the account officer to the school.
Salihu said the stolen money was paid back in bonds by the bank to the private school through the EFCC.
He noted that the bank had reported the employee to the EFCC immediately it discovered the fraud.