Woman jailed 12 years for defrauding Deeper Life church

An Ekiti State High Court, Ado Ekiti Division, has sentenced a 40-year-old woman, Sade Otenuga, to 12 years’ imprisonment for fraud and stealing.

The woman had claimed to be the owner of a building which she sold to the Deeper Life Bible Church.

The court sentenced her to seven years on count one (fraud) and five years on count two (stealing).

Although the two sentences would run concurrently, the court gave a fine option of N20,000 for count two.

According to the two counts, the convict had between 6th and 8th April, 2021 in Ado Ekiti obtained N620,000 from a DLBC pastor, Oso Olugbenga, with intent to defraud, and as well “during the same period did steal a sum of N620,000 belonging to the same Oso Olugbenga.”

The offences contravened sections 1(3) and 11 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006, and Section 390 (9) of the Criminal Code, Cap. C16, Laws of Ekiti State of Nigeria.

Olugbenga, in his testimony before the court, said, “Between 6th and 8th April, 2021, I transferred N620,000 to the woman who claimed to own a dilapidated building at the Dalimore area of Ado Ekiti.

“The church decided to purchase the building, as it had become a hideout for criminals in the area. The woman also gave the church instruction to remove the building, not knowing that she was not the rightful owner. All efforts made to recover the money after the church discovered fraud in the transaction proved abortive.”

The police prosecutor, Samson Osobu, called three witnesses and tendered a written petition to the police, a letter to First Bank Nigeria Plc, the statement of the convict and N100,000 cash, among others, as exhibits.

The convict, while speaking through her counsel, Yinka Opaleke, pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy.

In her evidence during cross-examination, the convict confessed to the crime.

Justice Lekan Ogunmoye said, “It is trite that where a statute prescribes mandatory sentence in clear terms, the courts are without jurisdiction to impose anything less than the prescribed mandatory sentence as no discretion exists in the court to exercise in the matter.

“The defendant is hereby sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment on count one, which will start running from the date of her remand in the correctional centre, Ado Ekiti. She is sentenced to five years’ imprisonment on count two with N20,000 option of fine. The terms are to run concurrently.”