A so-called Christian evangelist has allegedly absconded with 52 android and iphones, money and other valuables belonging to his congregants, after a three-day crusade.
The ‘pastor’, who claimed to have been led by God from Gambia to conduct a crusade in Agbowo area of Ibadan, is now at large. The cleric, on the last day of the crusade, claimed that the Holy Spirit directed him to tell those in attendance to submit their phones, money and other valuables.
He was, however, said to have absconded with those items. The victims said that the pastor, who lured them into three days of fasting and prayer, was nowhere to be found on the last day of the crusade, as all efforts to locate his whereabouts proved abortive.
A victim, Grace Akintola, said that many widows had gone to the crusade because the pastor promised to give each of them a bag of rice and money. Mrs Akintola, who is a widow, said that the ‘man of God’ also promised to empower students who attended the crusade with scholarship awards.
“The pastor approached an Igbo lady in our area to assist him to gather widows and students and that he wanted to help us. Someone in my area invited me for the crusade. The crusader put on the priest’s regalia. He even said he would buy a fully furnished house for one of us.
“The pastor equally promised some of those who attended the crusade money, the kind of money that even politicians could not give. The last day of the crusade, he (pastor) sold a bottle of water for us at the rate of N4,800; he said that the water had been mixed with perfume and many people paid for it,” she said.
Another victim, a student of University of Ibadan, who pleaded anonymity, said that the pastor ordered them to fast for three days. He said that he collected their phones so as to keep them away from them and allow them to focus on prayers, unknown to them that it was a trick to get rid of their belongings.
“He said no phone should ring during the programme and that was why he collected all of them. In fact, he snapped at a lady who stood up and wanted to take his photograph and seized the phone from her,” he said.
He further stated that on the last day of the crusade, the pastor said he wanted to go and rest at the hotel where he had lodged.
“He (pastor) later said he wanted to go and eat inside the University of Ibadan after which we didn’t know how he escaped with our belongings. As a man of God that he claimed to be, we respected him a lot. We didn’t know that he wanted to use the name of God to dupe us,” he said.
Meanwhile, the pastor has been declared wanted by residents of the area, as posters bearing his name and pictures have been circulated within the area to track him. The Police Public Relations Officer in Oyo State, Adewale Osifeso, confirmed the incident in a text message sent to reporters.
Mr Osifeso said that investigation had commenced on the matter and that updates would be provided.