By Mary BASSEY, Senior Investigator Reporter, Lagos.
THE massive church headquarters auditorium of Living Faith Church Worldwide aka Winners Chapel located at Kilometer 10, Sango Otta Ogun State was full to capacity. It was the occasion of the annual empowerment seminar held to exhort and encourage members on the need to inculcate the fear of God in whatever chosen career they found themselves, love one another and solely repose trust in God Almighty as they embrace a new decade in their lives. In attendance were the General Overseer of the Church, Dr. David Oyedepo (who presided) and his Deputy Bishop Ibioye. Date was Saturday January 4, 2020 and top members of the church including ordained Zonal Pastors, Ministers, Ushers and other workers of the church were present at the occasion as the man of God dished out powerful messages of God to his people. As the entire auditorium listened with rapt attention to the powerful sermon on the plain, the man God suddenly stopped, moved briskly towards the members like a lion stalking a prey; paused and said, “Can you imagine accountants perpetrating fraud in the house of God?” Then there was a deafening silence! He continued: “We had no choice than to dismiss them. You can imagine, top church officials engaging in doubling figures and other dubious practices. Even after we dismissed them we discovered more fraud. Those who should discover the fraud were the ones involved in it. One of them refused to confess until the last minute. I don’t want to mention their names but those who know them know them; even though they are no longer with us.”
Apparently irked by the betrayal of trust, a visibly distraught Oyedepo roared; “Don’t employ them when they come to you and do not sympathize with them. They are wicked and whoever sympathizes with the wicked is wicked himself. Don’t sympathize with any perpetrator of fraud; otherwise you are a partaker of the evil act.”
With this shocking revelation, an insider source said the seminar suddenly became uninteresting as hisses, general shaking of heads in utter condemnation of the fraudulent act overwhelmed the massive auditorium; and that signaled the abrupt end of the gathering.
How the fraud was hatched
CrimeWorld authoritatively scooped that five members (ordained Pastors) of the church three of them, chattered accountants and an internal auditor conspired together to alter figures of inflows into the church accounts including monies sent in from zonal and international braches of the church adding that the fraudulent act was traced to mid-2018 after a vibrant, young and dedicated newly ordained accountant Pastor discovered the infractions and raised the alarm. The head of the accounting department, a top senior Pastor who doubled as the internal auditor, was said to have upbraided the ‘inquisitive’ young account for attempting to invite the ‘devil’ into the house of God. It was further gathered that it was this new accountant who apparently, was not comfortable with what he had discovered that whispered into the ear of the Deputy General Overseer, Bishop Ibioye who in turn, informed the General Overseer, Dr. David Oyedepo on the need to invite an external auditor to audit the account books of the church stressing that, it was the unnamed external auditor from a renowned audit firm in the state who later exposed the shoddy deals by the church accountant Pastors; the head said to be an age-long ally of the G.O.
“The internal auditor is a very close friend of the G.O. and whatever he tells Dr. Oyedepo especially, financial dealings of the church is final; that tells you how close they were until this thievery was discovered. The truth is that the man of God was very angry with the discovery because the money was much; he was therefore, moved to place a curse on the accountants including his close friend and said they would never encounter sympathy from anywhere and that they should go and ask for God’s forgiveness,” said an informed source
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