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Court sends cleric, chief to prison over forgery

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An Ekiti State High Court in Ado Ekiti on Thursday sentenced two men — a 63-year-old cleric, Adereti Ebenezer, and 68-year-old chief, Akinyede Joseph — to three years imprisonment each for forgery.

They were arraigned before Justice Lekan Ogunmoye on 18th October 2021, on four counts bordering on conspiracy, forgery, false sworn declarations, and making documents without authority.

According to the charge, Joseph and Ebenezer on 10th January 2016, on Ilado Street, Iwore, Ifaki Ekiti, “did conspire to forge the minute of meeting of the registered trustees of the United Church of Cherubim and Seraphim Organisation”.

They were also accused of making “false declarations that they were appointed as members of the registered trustees of the church and as well made an amended constitution of the registered trustees of the church without lawful authority”.

According to the prosecutor, Gbemiga Adaramola, the offenses contravened sections 516, 467, 191, and 473 of the Criminal Code Cap. C16, Vol.1, Laws of Ekiti State, Nigeria, 2012.

In his statement to the police, one of the trustees, Faseyi Albert, said, “I was appointed alongside others as the board of trustees of the church in 2001.

The appointment was sent to the Corporate Affairs Commission for ratification.

“After the demise of Primate and Archbishop of the Church, Most Rev. S. A. Fadeyi, the bishop in-council consequently ratified the appointment of Rt. Rev. Tunde Ogunseemi as the new primate/archbishop of the organization in 2015.

“During the manual search conducted by CAC, it was discovered that Rt. Rev. Adereti Ebenezer who was archbishop 3 of the church and Chief Akinyede Joseph manipulated some documents which indicated that the trustees had a meeting and a decision was taken to remove Most Rev. Tunde Ogunseemi’s name; the minute of same meeting was forged, among others, and presented to CAC.

“I was also alleged to have been presented at the meeting. The matter was later reported to the police for investigation and action”, he said.

The prosecutor, Adaramola, called five witnesses.

The defendants, who spoke through their counsel, Ayotunde Ibitoye, called four witnesses and pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy.

In his judgment, Justice Lekan Ogunmoye, who said there was overwhelming evidence before the court that the defendants conspired together to forge the signatures of the board of trustees and minutes of the meeting of the registered trustees, discharged and acquitted them on count three (false declaration).

Ogunmoye, however, said, “The defendants are sentenced to one-year imprisonment each on counts one, two, and four (conspiracy, forgery and making a document without authority) with an option of N20,000 fine, for each of the counts. The sentences are to run concurrently”.

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