A man, said to be a deacon of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), identified as Cyril Idakwoji, is alleged to have forged the letterhead paper of the church and signature of the pastor with which he defrauded the church of about N37 Million, landing him in the net of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The suspect was said to have handed over two cheques covering N11.9 million to the church, even as the anti-graft agency also recovered N36 million that was said to belong to one Jephthah International School. The amount was said to have been stolen by Idakwoji, who is a former Port Harcourt-based employee of Access Bank.
Speaking to newsmen in Port Harcourt yesterday, Wednesday, the South-South Zonal Head of the EFCC, Ishaq Salihu, said that Idakwoji, a former account officer of the church for the bank, was diverting the funds handed to him by the church for his private use instead of transferring them to the church’s bank account.
Ishaq Salihu said that the suspect had forged letterheads of the church and the signature of the pastor in charge of the region to carry out his criminal activities.
Handing over the cheques to the Pastor of Province 4 of the church, the EFCC chief said that the suspect had forged the letterhead of the church’s Region 5 and the signatures of the pastor in charge of the region, adding that he also forged the signature of the church’s accountant to execute his criminal schemes in RCCG.
The stolen funds were paid back by the bank, which had since sacked the fraudulent employee.
Speaking after receiving the cheques from the anti-graft agency, the Pastor of Province 4 of RCCG, Port Harcourt, Mark Barango, expressed gratitude to the EFCC for ensuring that the money was recovered.
He expressed surprise that Idakwoji, who was a deacon in the church, could involve himself in such a criminal act.
“He (the 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 recover the money. What they have done is perfect.”
The EFCC chief recalled that the anti graft agency had earlier recovered the sum of N36 million, which belonged to Jephthah International School stolen by Idakwoji with his position as a marketer in Access Bank, Port Harcourt.
Idakwoji, according to the EFCC zonal head, had also served as an account officer to the private school.
Ishaq Salihu said that the stolen fund was recently paid back in bonds by the bank to the affected private school through the EFCC, adding that the management of the bank had reported to the commission immediately it found out that the suspect was fraudulent. [myad]