Martins Emmanuel, a member of the Amazing Grace Eagle Family, a Christian group in Kwara, has told FIJ how a pastor absconded with the monetary contributions of the group.
Emmanuel narrated how his pastor introduced him to the thrift, which was being run by his associate, another pastor named Afolabi Olakunle Alexander.
Emmanuel told FIJ he agreed to the said thrift in order to have savings for his child's school fees.
“In December 2021, precisely December 27, I got a chat from my pastor, Reverend Simeon Oladejo. He told me thrift was being organised for Christian believers. We attend same church, and he's one of our pastors in Ife. I asked him how much I could be contributing, and he told me the least was N5000,” said Emmanuel.
“I agreed, and I started making my contributions in February. I made my contributions until November 2022, when I was to get my money.
“According to the list of people that would be paid monthly, which was sent to the platform, I was to be paid on November 15, 2022.”
However, when Emmanuel reached out to his pastor, he was told Pastor Afolabi had absconded with the money and efforts to reach him had been futile.
“When I reached out to Reverend Oladejo, he said the man took away the money, and that he had tried to get across to him, but to no avail,” Emmanuel told FIJ.
“Pastor Afolabi is a known associate of Reverend Oladejo. After making the payment into his account, the receipts were usually sent to him.
“I began to send messages to him to please give me my money, as I needed to pay my children's school fees. But he replied none of my messages, including the ones sent on WhatsApp. He would read but not reply.”
Documents and other items of evidence at FIJ's disposal show that no less than hundred contributors were involved.
FIJ reached out to some other members of the group, and their accounts did not differ from Emmanuel's.
One Omoniyi, a Port-Harcourt resident, told FIJ that he also could not get his money. He said his efforts had always been met with a series of excuses from Reverend Oladejo, who introduced him to the group.
“I am also involved in it. I have about N55,000 with him, but each time I reached out, I was always told that the persons in charge of the money ran away with it. There are many others that have not got their money,” Omoniyi told FIJ.
‘OVER N2M BELONGING TO MY GROUP NOT PAID'
An inner member of the group, who asked not to be named, told FIJ that no less than N2 million belonging to his own clique in the group had not been paid. This, according to him, was besides his own personal N200,000.
“I am a member of the group, and I hold an important position in the administration of the thrift. The matter is more serious than that. My money too is stuck in there, and it is about N200,000. The people that I brought into the programme have also not been paid their money, which is over N2 million naira.”
FIJ learned that Pastor Afolabi used the money contributed to offset his debt with the microfinance bank popularly known as LAPO.
“He is running round to source for money. The issue is that he was owing LAPO some money. LAPO then told him to pay up to lend him more money, which he believed he would use to pay the contributors in the thrift group,” said a source who asked not to be named.
“However, after he paid LAPO using the contributors' money, LAPO came up with an excuse that they had closed for the year.”
Efforts by FIJ to hear from Pastor Afolabi proved abortive as his line was unreachable.