The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says its operatives have arrested Theophilus Ebonyi, general overseer of Faith on the Rock Ministry International, over alleged fraud.
In a statement on Monday, Dele Oyewale, EFCC head of media and publicity, said the cleric defrauded members of his church and other Nigerians to the tune of N1,319,040,274.31 “using fake grants” from the Ford Foundation.
“Ebonyi was arrested for defrauding his victims, comprising Non-Governmental Organisations, NGOs, and individuals by advertising an intervention project through his NGO (Theobarth Global Foundation) claiming that the Ford Foundation was offering a grant of $20,000, 000.000 (Twenty Billion United States dollars) to assist the less-privileged in the society,” the statement reads.
The antigraft agency said Ebonyi “beguiled his victims to subscribe as beneficiaries of the phoney grant by asking them to pay for registration forms and clusters”.
Oyewale said the cleric received the sum of N1.8 million from each subscriber.
“Through this arrangement, Ebonyi allegedly raked in N1,391,040, 274.31. His subscribers are innocent and unsuspecting Nigerians and NGOs across the country,” he said.
Oyewale said investigations revealed that the Ford Foundation had no arrangement, grant, relationship or business with Ebonyi.
He said the Ford Foundation “pointedly disclaimed” Ebonyi and his NGO, and said they had no links with them.
Oyewale said the commission has also traced five properties Ebonyi acquired as proceeds of his criminal dealings.
“Ebonyi is still reportedly reaching his subscribers on some social media platforms to market his spurious grant from Ford Foundation,” EFCC said.
The commission added that the pastor would be charged to court when investigations are concluded.