The EFCC has re-arraigned three pastors for allegedly defrauding Angel Estate Residents Association in Amuwo-Odofin, Lagos of N7.9 million.
They are facing a six-count charge of conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretense, forgery and uttering.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the defendants were previously arraigned on March 13, 2013 before Justice Olabisi Akinlade.
The trio had pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail in the sum of N500,000 each.
During proceedings, the EFCC Counsel, Mr Ben Ubi, said that the re-arraignment was necessitated by Akinlade’s transfer out of the criminal division.
Ubi asked the court to order the defendants to re-take their plea and his request was granted.
He alleged that the defendants had conspired to fraudulently obtain four million naira and 25,000 dollars (N3.9 million) from the complainants.
The prosecutor said that the money was obtained on Oct. 27, 2011, under the guise of helping the complainants to source a loan of 100 million dollars.
He said the association wanted the loan to finance some community projects and that the defendants had obtained the sums as processing charges. Ubi also accused the defendants of forging various documents which were used in facilitating the fraud.
According to him, after collecting the money, the defendants failed to secure the loan as promised, which led the complainants to petition the EFCC.
He said that offences contravened Section 1, (sub-sections 1,2,3) and Section 8 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.
Ubi said they also contravened Sections 363 and 364 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011.
NAN reports that the offence of obtaining money by false pretences attracts between seven and 20 years imprisonment, if an accused is found guilty.
All the defendants, again, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Following the re-arraignment, their Counsel, Mr F.O. Udokporoh, urged the court to allow them to enjoy the bail earlier granted to them by the former judge.
The judge acceded to his request and adjourned the matter till May 19 for trial.