POLICE have arraigned traditional priest Dada Oluwafemi before an Abuja high court on charges of a criminal breach of trust and cheating after he absconded upon receiving a sum of N635,000 ($1,750) from a client who paid him to offer special prayers.
Across Nigeria, it is very common for people to approach clergymen and women for special prayers when they are going through hard times. When faced with problem ranging from financial matters to childlessness, to marital woes to bereavement, to health concerns Nigerians regularly approach Muslim, Christian and traditional priests, asking them to offer special prayers for them.
Mr Oluwafemi, 39, was approached by one Ernest Mmadu to do this but failed to deliver, so the matter was reported to the police, who arrested him and charged him before the Grade One Area Court, Nyanya, in Abuja. According to the prosecution, Mr Oluwafemi, who resides at Ajalomi Street, Abraka, in Delta State, took the cash and failed to offer the required prayers.
Prosecutor Fidelis Ogube, told the court that Mr Mmadu of the Federal Housing Authority in Lugbe, Abuja, reported the matter at Garki Police Station on July 24, 2017. He revealed that sometime in July 2017, Mr Oluwafemi spoke with Mr Mmadu, claiming to be a pastor and during their conversation they discussed a nagging spiritual problem.
Mr Mmadu subsequently withdrew N635,000 from the bank account and gave it to Mr Oluwafemi to pray for him. Mr Ogube added: “While pretending to be reciting the special prayer, the defendant took off with the bag full of money.”
According to Mr Ogube police investigations later tracked the defendant down and arrested him at Ninth Mile in Enugu State. According to the prosecution, the offence contravened the provisions of sections 312 and 322 of the Penal Code.
After the charge was read to Mr Oluwafemi, he pleaded guilty. Judge Abdullahi Ogedengbe, admitted the defendant to bail in the sum of N50,000, with a reliable surety in like sum.
Judge Ogedengbe then ordered that the surety must reside within the court’s jurisdiction. He subsequently adjourned the case until June 18 for hearing.