Court Convicts Pastor for Issuing $1.6m Dud Cheque
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Special Offences Court, in Ikeja yesterday sentenced Ayodeji Oluokun, an assistant Pastor of the Redeem Christian Church of God (RCCG), City of David Parish, Victoria Island, Lagos, to two years imprisonment for issuance of $1.6 million dud cheque.
The convicted Pastor was charged alongside his company, Peak Petroleum Industry Nigeria Limited, on an amended six-count charge bordering on issuance of dud cheque, stealing and obtaining money under false pretences.
Justice Taiwo in her Judgement, held that the prosecution had successfully proved the charge of issuance of dud cheque against the defendants. The judge, however, discharged and acquainted the defendants of stealing and obtaining money under false pretences. “The defendant issued two cheque in the sum of $1.6 million to the nominal complainant, which was dishonoured because there was no fund in the defendant’s account.
“Issuance of cheque for lack of credit is a strict liable offence. If the defendant was truly expecting some money till the end of July 2014 as claimed by him, he would have waited till he received the money before issuing the cheque on June 24, 2014.
“The first defendant knew all of these and still went ahead to issue the cheque dated June 24, 2014.
“It is hereby, in the view of this court, that the defendants was deliberate in issuing the dud cheque.
“He is hereby found guilty of counts one and two of issuance of dud cheque.
“The defendants, however, are discharged and acquainted of stealing and obtaining money under false pretences as the prosecution failed to establish the facts against them,”she said.
The judge thereafter, sentenced the first defendant to two years in prison or pay a fine of N2 million and the second defendant to a fine of N2 million.
The court also ordered the convict to make restitution of $1.6 million to the nominal complainant within 18 months.
The defence counsel, Mr. Edoka Onyeke, in his allocutus, prayed the court to grant the convict a non custodian sentence, adding that he was a pastor and could use his pastoral work as service to humanity, through community service.
“My lord, apart from the defendants being a first offender, if he is incarcerated, he will not be able to carry out the necessary things on behalf of the second defendant so as to make the restitution easy.
“The first defendant is a pastor of a church. This is a very good opportunity for him to engage in community service instead of custodian sentence so as to preach the words of God.
“On a final note, the defendant has promised to involve the nominal complainant in order to make the restitution,” he pleaded.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Counsel, Mr. Samuel Daji, however, urged the court to convict the defendants as charged, arguing that the convict and the nominal complainant had not been on talking term, thereby making the terms of restitution difficult to meet.
He also prayed the court to order the defendant to forfeit his property in order to pay up the debt.
“My lord, from the evidence before this court, the defendant is not committed. It has been nine good years my lord.
“A dollar was N150 at the time the loan was granted to the defendants. The defendant does not even greet the nominal complainant unless it is utmost necessary.
“There is an evidence before the court that the defendant was not ready to settle this case.
“The defence counsel said he is a pastor. My lord, the more reason he should be given a custodian sentence in order to serve as deterrent to others.
“The court has stated mandatory sentence. We shall be asking for restitution. I shall be urging the court to order the defendant to forfeit his property so as to use it to pay his debt,” Daji said.