A 43-year-old cleric in Lagos State has been apprehended by law enforcement authorities on charges of deceiving his U.S.-based friend into parting with N105 million under false pretenses.
The suspect, paraded before the media in Lagos on Monday, was identified as the alleged mastermind behind a scheme that saw him manipulate not only his friend’s financial assets but also his family members.
Assistant Inspector-General of Police for Zone-2, Ali Mohammed, shared that the accused cleric utilized his spiritual influence to convince his U.S.-based friend to transfer the substantial sum of N105 million to him.
Disturbingly, the cleric was also able to manipulate his friend’s wife and three children, effectively taking them under his control.
The unsuspecting family was allegedly put under a spell, causing them to view the cleric as their guardian.
Addressing the media, Ali Mohammed disclosed that the suspect’s wife played an active role in facilitating the fraudulent activities.
Beyond the monetary transaction, the cleric and his wife allegedly took possession of five vehicles and valuable landed property owned by the U.S.-based friend.
During the investigation, it came to light that the suspect confessed to utilizing spiritual means to gain control over his friend’s family, funds exceeding N105 million, and multiple properties located in Lagos.
The police official revealed that the cleric admitted to even altering the names of his friend’s children and the ownership documents of the properties.
The police were alerted to the situation when a complaint was filed on July 17, 2023, leading to the apprehension of the cleric and his wife. While additional accomplices remain at large, five individuals have been taken into custody in connection with the criminal activities.
Significant progress has been made in recovering assets from the suspects, including a white Toyota Venza 2009 model, an Ashok Leland Bus, and various landed properties.
Ali Mohammed stressed, “The petitioner’s family members were held captive for over a decade, their identities altered through fraudulent means, and their assets unlawfully seized.” The complainant, who resides in the United States, became acquainted with the cleric around 16 years ago.
The suspect manipulated his trust, causing him to send large sums of money under the guise of funding a project. Instead, the funds were reportedly siphoned off, totaling more than N105 million.
The police also revealed that the cleric’s wife confessed to participating in the alteration of birth documents, changing the children’s names to reflect those of the cleric.
Additionally, she admitted to receiving over 17,000 dollars (approximately N11.8 million) from the complainant.
Investigations unveiled that the suspect and the complainant met at a religious gathering in Lagos, which marked the beginning of their friendship.
The complainant’s growing trust in the cleric resulted in him channeling substantial financial resources to the suspect, ultimately leading to his considerable financial loss.
As the investigation continues, authorities are working diligently to uncover further details regarding the extent of the deception and to bring all individuals involved to justice.
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