Theo O. Ebonyi, a well-renowned pastor and apostle from Benue State, Nigeria, has been arrested for allegedly swindling his followers out of over 1.3B Naira (£740,000). Although he was arrested before being freed on bail last year, the news of his arrest and the allegations against him have only just been made public.
Ebonyi, who runs Faith on the Rock Ministry International church, did not directly address the allegations against him, however, he claimed the revelation of his arrest to be "fake news" spread by bloggers.
According to Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ebonyi allegedly asked followers to each pay roughly £1032 in fees to gain access to a $20bn (£16bn) grant from the Ford Foundation, which is a US-based company. However, the EFCC alleged that this foundation does not offer such a grant.
In a statement, the agency said: "Investigations by the EFCC showed that the Ford Foundation had no arrangement, grant, relationship or business with Ebonyi,"
"The foundation pointedly disclaimed him and his NGO stressing that it had no link whatsoever with them."
According to the EFCC, Ebonyi used his followers' money to buy five properties. Ebonyi is scheduled to be charged in court once the investigation concludes, says the EFCC.
Following the announcement of his arrest on X by the EFCC, Ebonyi addressed the news in a Facebook video, saying the news of his arrest had been fabricated by "bloggers... trying to use my body to make money... that is a very big fake news... it's not true".
The EFCC alleged the pastor was only on bail and that the arrest and bail took place last year.
An EFCC spokesperson said: "He had been arrested over a long period of time, but because of the investigation that we were doing, we did not issue any statements," the spokesperson is quoted as saying.