The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested a deacon of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Cyril Idakwoji, and handed over two cheques covering N11.9m to the church.
The anti-graft agency also recovered N36m belonging to Jephthah International School and stolen by Idakwoji.
The amount was said to have been stolen by Idakwoji, who is a former Port Harcourt-based employee of Access Bank.
South-South Zonal Head of the EFCC, Mr. Ishaq Salihu, explained that Idakwoji, a former account officer of the church for the bank, was diverting the funds handed to him by the church for his private use instead of transferring them to the church’s bank account.
Salihu told newsmen in Port Harcourt on Wednesday that the suspect had forged letterheads of the church and the signature of the pastor in charge of the region.
He also said that Idakwoji forged the signature of the church’s accountant in a bid to successfully carry out his criminal activities.
Handing over the cheques to the Pastor of Province 4 of the church, Salihu said, “He (suspect) forged the letterhead of the church’s Region 5 and the signatures of the pastor in charge of the region. He also forged the signature of the church’s accountant to execute his criminal schemes in RCCG.”
The stolen funds were paid back by the bank, who had since sacked the fraudulent employee.
Speaking after receiving the cheques from the anti-graft agency, the Pastor of Province 4 of RCCG, Port Harcourt, Mr. Mark Barango, expressed gratitude to the EFCC for ensuring that the money was recovered.
He expressed surprise that Idakwoji, who was a deacon in the church, could involve in such a criminal act.
He said, “He (suspect) was the account officer assigned by the bank to us. He was also a member of the church. EFCC is an agent of transformation. I thank the EFCC for helping us recover the money. What they have done is perfect.”
Salihu, however, recalled that the EFCC had earlier recovered the sum of N36m, which belonged to Jephthah International School but also stolen by Idakwoji with his position as a marketer in Access Bank, Port Harcourt.
Idakwoji, according to the EFCC zonal head, had also served as an account officer to the private school.