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By CHRIS ANUCHA Thursday, February 23, 2012
Photo: Sun News Publishing
The case against a South African based Nigerian clergy, Pastor Adebayo Agbojo, came to a dramatic end recently, when the Chief Magistrate court 17 , Igbosere, Lagos, struck it out and discharged the defendant.
Beyond that, the Magistrate, Mr. Jacob Adegun, ordered that his international passport, with the court’s Registrar since 2010, be released to him immediately. Ironically, the case was struck out on February 14, the day the court was supposed to start hearing0 the matter for the first time.
In his ruling, the Magistrate said: “It appears that the prosecution is not ready to prosecute the defendant upon the application of the prosecution for withdrawal of the charge against the defendant, this case is struck out and the defendant discharged.
The international passport of the defendant with the court’s Registrar should be released to him immediately.”
Agbojo’s prosecutors were said to have always been absent in the court, while the plaintiff, Chief Bakare did not appear in court even for once.
Crimewatch can recall that this is not the first time the pastor would get judgment in his favour. An Ikeja High court, in August 2010, had ordered his unconditional release from detention. The court also ordered the Nigeria police to release his property confiscated in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, and Lagos, and awarded N150,000 damages in his favour. After the court order, police still held him for several weeks before releasing him, but without releasing his personal effects, as directed by the law court. Up till now, the Nigeria police are yet to pay the N150,000 damage to the defendant.
Daily Sun broke the news of Agbojo’s arrest and incacerraction at Zone 2 police headquarters, Onikan, Lagos, in its Thursday, May 6, 2010 edition. After the report, Zone 2 police command quickly moved him to the Federal Criminal Investigation Bureau(FCIB), Alagbon, Ikoyi.
This led to a petition to the former Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo. In the letter , which was dated May, 14, 2010 Agbojo’s Lawyers Bimpe Olatemiju of CitiLawyers chambers, Lagos, narrated how a business transaction between the pastor and Chief Bakare turned sour, leading to the latter using the police to arrest and detained him. The letter was also copied to the former Assistant Inspector General of Police(AIG) in charge of Zone 2, Mr. Azubuko Udah(now a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police), former Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr. Marvel Akpoyibo. Also in the letter, Olatemiju explained how Agbojo was invited by Chief Bakare, for a peace meeting, only for him to be arrested by the police. “Since the 24th of March 2010, our client has been detained in police cell at Zone 2 headquarters, Onikan, and now at Ikoyi prison, Lagos, following a petition from Chief Bakare, alleging fraud in respect of the same transaction…Our client has not been heard in any court since his arrest over two months ago, which is an infringement of his right to fair hearing and personal liberty,” the petitioner had said.
In conclusion, the lawyer appealed to Onovo to look into the matter and cause his client to be granted bail or be charged to court, as stipulated by the laws of the land.
The pastor’s travails began in March 24, 2010, when a popular auto dealer and Chairman of Oluwalogbon Motors, Chief Stephen Olakunle Bakare, wrote a petition to the police, alleging that Agbojo shortchanged him in $3.5million diamond deal(deposits) in South Africa.
Chief Bakare and Agbojo were said to have enjoyed a robust relationship for many years before the business tore them apart. The pastor had told how he consulted for Bakare, whom he also called, ‘my father’ on spiritual matters, before their relationship went awry, when the cleric relocated to South Africa. He was said to have told the businessman that a South African and member of his church in Kimberlyn, one Mbude David, advised him to acquire a farmland, which had been confirmed by geologist to contain large deposits of diamond, as South African economic system allowed individual participation in the extraction of natural resources like gold and diamond.
According to Agbojo, Mbude took him to Kimberlyn District, where he was introduced to one Faber Williams, the owner of the 324 hectares of land, and he offered to sell it for 1.5 million Rand(about N30 million).
The pastor disclosed that he deposited the sum of 700,000 Rand, which is about N14million, for the land, but could not raise the balance and money for the mining. According to him, that was how he decided to contact Chief Bakare. When the auto dealer inspected the field, he not only indicated his interest in the business, by financing it, he also said he would buy it over, refund Agbojo the money he paid, which he (Agbojo) did not object to.
Bakare decided to register in South Africa company called, Unit-Space Import and Export Company Incorporated, to enable him and members of his family, to carry out business in South Africa. Agbojo had disclosed that when Bakare paid unscheduled visit to South Africa, he told him of his intension to hand over all the activities relating to diamond field to his wife. “Since I have been edged out of the business, I demanded a refund of the N14million I already committed to the deal. As part of the peace process, the pastor had come to Nigeria to ask for the refund, unknown to him that Bakare, who was already feeling cheated, had written a petition to the South African Embassy, alleging that he(Agbojo) connived with others at large, to dupe him. He also sent the petition to the police, which led to his arrest, when he returned to Nigeria.
In a witness statement he made at the police station, Chief Bakare alleged that Agbojo was pestering his life for more that six years. Following the protracted feud between the duo and the seizure of his international passport, it became difficult for him to travel to South Africa to visited his wife and children and to renew their stay there. Also affected by his travails were the flock under his care, who were left without shepherd for years. Consequently, the South African government asked members of his family to leave the country on October 2011.
Speaking on the court ruling, elated Agbojo described his travails as one of the temptations that could come the way of any servant of God. He is, however, happy that at last, he was vindicated by the court of law.
Agbojo, who was the General Overseer of Forever Living International Prayer Church, told this reporter that what he called, ‘the wilderness experience’ made him to have a deeper understanding of the God and the Holy Bible. The man, who has since ceased to be addressed as General Overseer(GO), said he is now simply known as ‘Pastor’.
He said it was also revealed to him that Saturday is the only day (seventh day) which must be kept holy. By implication, he is no more practising Pentecostalism but now ‘Sabbatherian’ . Crimewatch gathered that his Pentecostal church has also dissolved into Seventh Day Adventist Church.
via Daily Sun
New York Times
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