Two pastors jailed 10 years for unauthorised banking

THE PUNCH Newspaper- Friday Olokor

A Federal High Court in Asaba, Delta State, has sentenced two pastors to 10 years imprisonment each for illegal banking operations.

The court, presided over by Justice Ibrahim Buba, found Pastor Glory Abrefera and Rev. Vincent Okpogo, including their company, Mustard Seed Micro Investment Limited, guilty on a four-count of engaging in banking practice without licence.

A statement by the spokesperson for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, on Monday said the accused collected over N1bn from different individuals and organisations as deposits in an illegal banking transactions.

They were said to have been arrested following a petition to EFCC by some of the depositors.

The anti-graft agency was said to have subsequently investigated the activities of the firm and arraigned the suspects in 2011.

Uwujaren said, “Mustard Seed Micro Investment Limited was convicted on two counts and fined N2m on each of the counts. Pastor Abrefera and Rev. Okpogo, both directors of the firm were also convicted on two counts and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment each. They were equally fined N2m on each of the counts.

“The accused persons were said to have sometimes between 2006 and 2007 at Warri, Delta State engaged in banking practice without the required banking licence and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 2(2) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, Cap B3, Vol 2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

The counsel for EFCC, G. K. Latona, described the judgment as a milestone in the Nigerian judiciary.

He said it was the first time that persons were convicted for carrying out banking practice without the required licence, adding that the judgment would serve as a deterrent to other persons engaging in such illegal act.


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