Popular Celestial Church cleric gets bail in N11m fraud case

 


The Court of Appeal in Lagos on Thursday upheld the application for post-conviction bail by the founder of Genesis Parish of Celestial Church of Christ, Evangelist Israel Ogundipe.

A three-man panel of the court granted Ogundipe bail on health grounds.

The justices held that the bail subsists pending the determination of Ogundipe’s appeal challenging his two-year jail term for defrauding a United Kingdom-based woman of N11 million. 

A Lagos State High Court convicted and sentenced the popular televangelist last November, of defrauding Mrs Olaide Williams-Oni, following a trial that began in 2011.

Justice Olabisi Akinlade found the priest guilty of two of the seven counts of obtaining by stealing, inducing delivery of money by false pretences, unlawful conversion of property and forgery.

She dismissed the remaining five for lack of evidence.

Akinlade ordered Ogundipe to pay the plaintiff the sum of N11m, which he illegally obtained from her.

“Both sentences are to run concurrently and the defendant is to restitute the complainant the sum of N2.5million in respect of count two (stealing) and N8.5million in respect of count 4 (unlawful conversion of property not delivered),” the judge said.

But, displeased, the convict, through his counsel, Mr. Babatunde K. Ogala, SAN, approached the appellate court for bail pending appeal and an application to quash the conviction.

Ogala argued that the televangelist was diabetic, could no longer follow a strict diet and the constant specialised medical attention in custody, which had taken a toll on his health made him “gaunt in appearance.”

He stated, among others, that prior to his incarceration, Ogundipe was suffering from hypertension, peptic ulcer and unending malaria which had worsened his health challenges since his November 18 conviction.

Delivering the lead ruling on Thursday, Justice Abudullhai Muhammed Bayero admitted Ogundipe to bail in the sum of N2 million with two sureties in like sum.

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