THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested one Ginika Obi, a suspected fraudster who parades himself as a Christian Bishop, for allegedly defrauding hundreds of people of millions of naira via an illegal ponzi scheme in the guise of helping them “fight poverty”.
Acting spokesman of the EFCC, Tony Orilade, disclosed this in a press release on Monday. He said the suspect is the founder of Beloved Gideon Foundation, a church that is based in Agbor, Delta State with outreaches in Bayelsa, Onitsha, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja and Benin City.
The suspect, however, denied defrauding the people but said that he was only “doing the will of God by trying to help the people fight poverty”.
“We write books such as ‘24 Nuggets for Successful Living’, ‘36 Nuggets for Successful Living’, ‘48 Nuggets for Successful Living’. We organise seminars and conferences on how to be successful. We tell the people to subscribe to these publications. If you subscribe with N10, 800, we give you N15, 000. If you subscribe with N18, 000, we give you N23, 000. I had about 30,000 subscribers and I was paying them,” the self-ordained Bishop was quoted as saying.
He narrated that he had planned to expand his subscription base but his subscribers were not patient enough with him. “If they allowed me to hold the conference in Lagos, I would have paid them,” he claimed.
The suspect, who claims to be a consecrated Bishop and has a diploma in theology, said he was motivated by a desire to see people prosper, hence his decision to begin the poverty eradication programme.
Some of the victims whose monies were trapped in the scheme have continued to throng the EFCC Benin zonal office, Orilade stated. One of them, Janet Amaka Okafor, said the Bishop sold a dummy to them by claiming that he was from the famous Gideons International, based in the United States.
“He organised seminars in Agbor market that he was from Gideons International and that their mission was to help eradicate poverty in Nigeria,” Okafor was quoted as saying.
“He told us that unlike in the past when Gideons International distributed Bibles and Christian literatures, their mission now was to eradicate poverty.
“The Bishop knelt down and swore with the Bible. He convinced us that he was from Texas, USA and we believed him. I subscribed with N10, 800 and he paid me N15, 000.
“It was after this that he engaged over 60 of us as canvassers. I brought many people including my relations and friends. All together, they invested over N5 million.”
Another victim, Bessie Nwadibire, 67, also said the Bishop was very deceptive from the beginning.
“When he came to the market he gave out drinks and dashed some people money as much as N50, 000 as he said the poverty rate in Nigeria was too high. Before he was arrested, we went into hiding, because all the people who invested their money into the business through me have threatened to kill me unless I refund their money. The money is over N8 million,” Nwadibire said.
Yet another victim, Wisdom Aderemor, a civil servant based in Agbor, Delta State, said she had to flee her home for fear of being attacked by the people he brought into the scheme. Aderemor described the so-called Bishop as “callous and evil”.
The EFCC said the suspect will soon be arraigned in court.