Connect with us

News Feed

Amidst Divorce Controversy, Christ Embassy’s Finances Gets Probed By UK Charity Commission Over Payments

Published

on

The United Kingdom Charity Commission has launched a probe into the transfer of at least N941 million (£3.6 million) by the church to overseas entities between 2008 and 2012, as reported by Premium Times.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Charity Commission said it has opened a statutory inquiry to investigate Christ Embassy over “a number of serious concerns relating to the use of charitable funds, in particular large connected party payments and the potential misapplication of grant funding.”
According to the Charity Commission, which is the regulator of charities in England and Wales, statutory inquiries are only opened to investigate “the most serious” regulatory breaches.

The commission said the purpose of the inquiry is to “determine whether there has been any mismanagement or misconduct on behalf of the charity trustees; to establish whether charitable funds have been properly applied and take appropriate remedial action if necessary.”

The investigation was initiated in July 2013, but after interviewing members of the board of trustees and perusing the records and books of the church for a year, the commission was still not convinced that the church has been prudent in managing its finances.

Subsequently, the UK tax authority, HM Revenue and Customs, has withheld N711.4 million (£ 2.7 million) due to the church in donation between 2008 and 2012 until the conclusion is resolved.

On August 11, the commission effectively side-lined the church’s board of trustees and appointed an interim manager to take over the management of the church. In what it described as a “temporary and protective measure,” the commission appointed Rod Weston of the international audit and accounting firm, Mazars, to take over the running of the church.

Until investigation is concluded, Mr. Weston would “take over the management of the charity, including its staff, assets, interests, and relations with third parties,” the commission said. He is also expected to discharge the functions of the church’s trustees and take steps necessary to secure and take control of the assets of the church.

The commission however added that the activities of the church would not be suspended by the appointment as the Interim Manager is expected to work with the pastors of the church to ensure its religious and charity activities continue as before.

  • Curious payments

Although the Charity Commission said it does not provide details of ongoing cases so as not to jeopardize the investigations, PREMIUM TIMES assessment of the case however revealed that the church may have made curious payment worth at least N941 million ((£3.6 million) to individuals and companies closely connected with it.

A study of the church’s financial statements from 2009 to 2012 posted on the Charity Commission’s websites, show that approximately N403 million (£1,572,047) was paid to Love World Limited from the transmission of the church’s broadcast.

Curiously, the sole director of Love World Limited and sole shareholder is one Pastor Obiora Chiemeka who is also listed as a trustee of the church. Mr. Chiemeka was appointed a trustee in 2009, the year the church began to make the payment to his company.

The church also paid an estimated N538.5 million (£2.1 million) as grants to mostly Nigerian partner organisations between 2008 and 2012. On a closer look, PREMIUM TIMES discovered that some of the charges the payments were said to cover were arbitrary, suggesting they might have been used for other purposes other than what they were listed for.

For instance, between 2010 and 2012 a total of N320.4 million (£1.24 million) was paid to Love World Television Ministry, LTM. These payments appear to be a duplication of the payment for transmission of television broadcast paid to Love World Limited. Though the church’s dedicated television station is called Love World Television, it is not clear how Love World Television Ministry differs from Love World Limited. Love World Television Ministry is not listed on the church’s website among the ministries Christ Embassy runs.

Also, in 2009, N9.6 million (£37,785) was paid to the church’s healing ministry known as Healing School. In 2010, N20.5 million (£97,850) was paid to the same school. However, the amount paid to the ministry dropped drastically in 2011 to N346, 072 (£1,350). Then the payment to the ministry shot up astronomically to N25.6 million (£100,000) in 2012.

When PREMIUM TIMES called Christ Embassy’s international office for comments, an official who answered the phone said those who could speak on the issue were not in the office. The Interim Manager has also not responded to PREMIUM TIMES enquiries.

  • Like Ashimolowo like Oyakhilome

The investigation into Christ Embassy’s finances is the second time the Charity Commission will be carrying out statutory inquiry into the UK branch of a Nigerian Church.

Between 2002 and 2005, the commission appointed KPMG to act as interim managers to another Nigerian church in the UK, Kingsway International Christian Centre, KICC, founded by Matthew Ashimolowo. A report released in October 2005 revealed serious misconduct and mismanagement of the church’s finances.

The investigation discovered that Mr Ashimolowo approved payments and benefits for himself and his wife, Yemisi, totalling £384,000. He used the church’s Visa card to make personal purchases including a timeshare apartment in Florida for £13,000. The report also revealed that his wife bought a Bentley with a custom plate number worth £80,000.

Ashimolowo was also paid over half a million pounds to personal companies operating from the church property. The report revealed that some of his companies had unclear business relationship with the church.
The commission ordered him to repay £200,000.

  • Divorce

Mr. Oyakhilome is locked in a divorce battle with his estranged wife, Anita, who has filed an action at a UK court to end their 20-year-old marriage. Mrs. Oyakhilome accuses her husband of “adultery” and “unreasonable behaviour”, charges Mr. Chris has denied.

At a recent church meeting, Pastor Chris, as he is widely referred to by Christ Embassy members, warned church members against analysing the squabble between him and Anita as the church is not a political party. He allegedly described his wife as a “bitter and angry” woman who is being influenced by bad friends who are out to seek his downfall. He reportedly accused his wife of seeking to overpower the authorities of the elders she met when she joined the Christian ministry.

As the divorce battle rages, Mrs. Oyakhilome’s profile has been pulled down from the church’s website.

News Feed

‘We counted 15 dead bodies’ – DJ Switch breaks silence on Lekki shooting (video)

Published

on

'We counted 15 dead bodies' – DJ Switch breaks her silence on Lekki shooting (video)

 

Popular Nigerian DJ, Switch, has opened up on what happened in Lekki on Tuesday night.

Known as Obianuju Catherine Udeh, Switch said she counted 15 dead bodies during the shoot-out.

 

 

 

In a video she posted on her Instagram page, Switch asked the authorities not to insult the intelligence of Nigerians when giving their own account of what happened on that day.

According to her, the military aimed at endsars protesters as they fired gunshots. She also said that SARS officers came in after the military had left and also attacked them.

According to Switch she and others present counted over 15 bodies.

‘‘I just want to clear a few things that I have been seeing online. To our leaders, I urge you please do not minimize the suffering of families. Do not insult the grief of Nigerians, do not insult the intelligence of Nigerians. Do not insult the pains the families are facing.

People were falling left and right. Yes there were soldiers there. Another part that people are not talking about is that the police also came. The SARS people we are talking about, they also came, some maybe 40-45 minutes after the soldiers left.

We were teargassed. The teargass was like Cotonou pepper mixed with acid. We were running. We would run and we would come back and the only thing we fought with was our flags. We would sit on the floor and we would raise or hands up, raising our flags and singing the national anthem. That was all we had.

They put off the lights. Even if there was no power in that axis, there was always light at the tollgate. There was no lights. The street lights were off. It was pitch black.” she said

Speaking further, she said

”A boy jumped on me and was shouting cover her, cover her. I didn’t even understand why he did that. They shot that boy on my back. I fell and while the soldiers were picking their shells, we were running around and picking their shells too because we wanted proof.”

She showed photos of bullet shells picked from the ground. She showed the one that was fired close to her ears and the one that was removed from someone’s lap.

The military, they were there on Nigerian soil, killing Nigerian citizens. The police and their SARS like people came doing the same thing, aiming and shooting. They were pointing the gun at us and shooting live bullets. Who takes live bullets to a protest?

To our leaders, I urge you to please not insult the intelligence of Nigerians and the families.”

DJ Switch expressed regrets that she and others allowed the military to take the bodies of the deceased persons.

”Something I think of in hindsight I wish we hadn’t done it but we carried dead bodies and dropped at the feet of the soldiers so that they could see what they did to us. When I asked their unit commander why are you killing us? I wish we didn’t do that because they ended up throwing the bodies in their van. This was up until the next morning.” she said

She dissociated herself from the social media accounts claiming she said 78 persons died. She said she and others counted 15 dead bodies.

”I never said 78 people died. What I do know is that when I was doing the live, 7 people had died. When my phone died, we had counted about 15 people. I don’t know if it was more than that. We had a lot of people stray bullet wound, gunshot wounds, and all that.

People did die. It wasn’t photoshopped. I must be a tech genius to photoshop a live feed.” she said

She dismissed reports that her cousin died in the incident.

Thanking everyone for their prayers and support, DJ Switch said

”We must continue to move. We must continue. If we stop I fear it will probably be the next 60 years before we talk about this again. We must continue peacefully. I condemn any sort of violence. I condemn the burning of buses and peoples livelihood. ”

Continue Reading

News Feed

Nigeria still needs SARS, Zamfara gov, Matawalle insists

Published

on

Nigeria still needs SARS, Zamfara gov, Matawalle insists

Zamfara state governor, Bello Matawalle says that the recently dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit was important and useful in the state.Nigeria still needs SARS, Zamfara gov, Matawalle insists

The Governor who made this known while fielding questions from newsmen, called for the deployment of officials of the disbanded police unit to Zamfara.

Matawalle said;

“We have recorded tremendous development in the area of peace building the Zamfara state with the commitment and professional contribution and support of the FSARS of the Nigeria Police.

“I will personally seek audience with Mr President on this issue. We need the FSARS or its equivalent in Zamfara state because we have seen their positive impact in spite their alleged excesses.”

Continue Reading

News Feed

If End SARS protest doesn’t work then it might be over for Nigerian youths – Burna Boy

Published

on

If End SARS protest doesn’t work then it might be over for Nigerian youths – Burna Boy

If End SARS protest doesn’t work then it might be over for Nigerian youths – Burna Boy

Popular music entertainer, Burna Boy has stated that if the recent end SARS protest by Nigerian youths doesn’t yield any positive result, then the future holds nothing for the teeming youths in the country.

The ‘On the low’ crooner stated this in an interview with foreign media, Sky News.

The interview comes two weeks after protests began, sparked by a video showing a man being beaten, apparently by police officers from SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad).

Burna Boy, who spoke to Sky News from London, said: “It is shocking when you see it happen in that place, in such a place, that was the landmark of everything.

The Lekki Toll Gate, that was the most peaceful place to protest, the most peaceful venue in the whole country and then that is the place where [the shootings] happen. It is not something that you can just wrap your head around.”

The best-selling Afrobeats artist, who has mixed rap, funk and dancehall influences on international hits like On The Low and Ye, said nationwide protests against SARS have changed the nature of politics in his homeland.

This is the most important moment in Nigeria’s history… that is what we are witnessing right now because if nothing changes after this, if this doesn’t work, then it is over.”

When asked what he meant by this, he replied: “Look at what is going on right now: the youth have come together, like something unexplainable (sic), something that no one man could have possibly organised or led, the youth of the largest black nation in the world came together, said enough is enough and this was triggered by police brutality.

“It’s not like it was triggered by all the other things that it should have been triggered by all these years.”

Sky News

Continue Reading

Trending