Allegation of faking miracles to defraud unsuspecting church members and the public has hit a Pentecostal church in Benin, the Edo State capital. An aggrieved member of the gang performing and staging fake miracles for the ministry reported himself and the church to the police in the ancient city.
Operatives of the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) from the police command’s headquarters have reportedly begun investigation into the allegation. Sources at the police command headquarters said the founder and General Overseer of a popular church had been invited and quizzed.
The member, who allegedly reported the self-proclaimed evangelist to the police, said the cleric owed him N48,000, being the agreed fee for sitting in a wheelchair as a cripple for six days before he received his “healing” during a recent church deliverance programme.
It was learnt that the man, who is currently the main complainant and suspect, also alleged that the evangelist bought him a ram for thanksgiving in the church. He added that the preacher collected from him a suit he presented to him as the church gift, in front of the congregation, shortly after he gave his false testimony.
When our reporter approached the complainant at the police command headquarters in Benin, he said he wanted to use the money to buy drugs because he was on medication.
He said: “It was N8,000 per day; the programme was for six days. He collected the suit from me and gave it to another person.”
But a police officer prevented him from giving further details on the matter, saying: “The matter is still under investigation.”
Our reporter’s visits to the church on The Limit Road, off Sapele Road in Benin, revealed a large congregation of worshippers, most of whom appeared hypnotised and desperately seeking miracles.
In separate chats with our reporter, some members noted that “since God used our daddy (the General Overseer) to deliver a woman who carried a horse in her womb for several years, deliverance has not ceased here. Just sow a seed in the church and watch out for your miracle.”
But others conceded that the church membership had reduced considerably because some members left when they felt conned or did not get “expected” miracles.
Penultimate Sunday, the overseer told the congregation: “Run to the altar with your tithe. It will turn to alligator pepper in your pockets if you go home with it.”
This happened during our reporter’s second service at the church.
The old and the young in the church rushed to meet the evangelist on the altar in response to his statement.
The photographs our reporter took in the church were forced to be deleted by officials of the church, led by the Protocol Officer, who said photos were strictly restricted in the church.
Several attempts to obtain comments from the founder and General Overseer of the church did not yield any result.
A lady, who claimed to be the church’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) but refused to disclose her name, said: “Journalists always work with rumours.”
Contacted, police spokesman Osifo Abiodun, a Superintendent (SP), said: “The case has been transferred.”
It could not be confirmed where it was transferred to at the time of filing this report last night.