N1.3bn fraud: Pastor Theophilus Ebonyi acquired hotel, factory with church members’ funds, says EFCC

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Pastor Theophilus Ebonyi acquired hotel, factory with church members’ funds, says EFCC
Pastor Theophilus Ebonyi acquired hotel, factory with church members’ funds, says EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says Theophilus Ebonyi, general overseer of Faith on the Rock Ministry International, acquired a hotel and factory using funds gotten through fraud.

Ebonyi was arrested in 2023 by the EFCC for allegedly defrauding members of his church and other Nigerians to the tune of N1,319,040,274.31 “using fake grants” from the Ford Foundation.

The agency said the pastor defrauded his victims by advertising an intervention project through Theobarth Global Foundation, his non-governmental organisation (NGO).

He had claimed that the Ford Foundation was offering a grant of $20 billion to assist the less-privileged in the country.

In a statement on Wednesday, Dele Oyewale, EFCC head of media and publicity, said investigations showed that Ebonyi acquired a 23-room hotel, a pure water factory, two blocks of a primary school, a two bungalow office at New Karu and a five-bedroom duplex at Karsanan in Abuja, with the proceeds of his dealings.

Oyewale said the pastor also set up a live broadcast channel with studio equipment for his NGO, with the funds of his subscribers.

“He allegedly hoodwinked his victims to subscribe as beneficiaries of the phony grant by asking them to pay for registration forms and clusters. Each subscriber was made to pay N1,800,000( One Million, Eight Hundred Thousand Naira only). Through this arrangement, Ebonyi allegedly raked in N1,391,040,274.31. His subscribers are innocent and unsuspecting Nigerians and NGOs across the country,” the statement reads.

“Investigations by the EFCC showed that Ford Foundation had no arrangement, grant, relationship or business with Ebonyi. The Foundation pointedly disclaimed him and his NGO stressing that it had no link whatsoever with them. The Commission has also traced five properties he acquired as proceeds of his criminal dealings.

“Ebonyi is still reportedly reaching his subscribers on some social media platforms to market his spurious grant from Ford Foundation.”