An Ikeja High Court, Lagos yesterday sentenced a televangelist, Israel Ogundipe, to two years imprisonment for stealing and unlawful conversion of a woman’s property. Ogundipe, who is the Head of Genesis Parish of the Celestial Church of Christ, Alagbado, Lagos, had been on trial since 2011.
The convict, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), faced a seven-count of stealing, inducing “delivery of money” by false pretences, unlawful conversion of property and forgery. Delivering the judgement on Wednesday night, Justice Olabisi Akinlade found Ogundipe guilty of two counts of stealing and unlawful conversion of property. The judge found the cleric not guilty of five counts of stealing, inducing “delivery of money” by false pretences, giving false information to a public officer and forgery. She sentenced the convict to a year in prison on each of the two counts he was found guilty.
The judge ordered that he should pay the complainant, a London-based architect, Mrs.Oladele Williams-Oni, N11 million, which he illegally obtained from her. She said: “Both sentences are to run concurrently and the defendant is to restitute the complainant the sum of N2.5 million in respect of count two (stealing) and N8.5 million in respect of count four (unlawful conversion of property not delivered).”
The lead prosecution counsel, Rotimi Odutola, said Ogundipe committed the offences from August 30, 2002 to October 2004. Odutola said the convict fraudulently obtained N14 million and 12,000 pounds in tranches from the complainant during the period.
He said: “Between August 30, 2002 and December 2003, at No. 32, Bello Street, Ladipo Estate, Sogunle, Lagos, he received N2 million from Williams-Oni to purchase an uncompleted building for her.
“He fraudulently converted the money for his own use. “Between March and December 2003 at Commint Bereau De Change, Broad Street, Lagos, he stole 12,000 British pounds from the complainant. “The money was meant for the purchase of four plots of land for building a mosque.
“He stole N8.5 million between October 2002 and March 2003 from Williams-Oni for purchase of landed property in Lagos.” Odutola added that on different days in 2002 and 2003, the convict received N2.6 million from the complainant by falsely representing to her that he was a man of God and that the money was to be used for his church. Ge said: “Ogundipe also forged a Nigerian international passport which carried his photo in the name Sanyaolu Babatunde Solomon at the Passport Office located at Oba Akinjobi Street, Ikeja, Lagos.” The offences contravene Sections 390(9), 419 and 467(1) (b) of the Criminal Code Law of Lagos, 2003.