The founder of the Beloved Gideon Ministries and Foundation, Bishop Giniko Obi, has been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC in Benin City, for allegedly defrauding thousands of people of various sums of money running into millions of Naira. The suspect allegedly collected the money from his victims in the guise of helping them to ‘fight poverty.’
According to a statement by the acting EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade, in Abuja on Monday, Obi said it was his desire and God’s will to see people prosper that led him into operating what appears to be a Ponzi scheme.
Obi, who claimed to be a consecrated Bishop with a diploma in theology, explained that he was selling what he called nuggets for successful living to subscribe to the scheme.
“We write books such as ‘24 Nuggets for Successful Living’, ‘36 Nuggets for Successful Living’, ‘48 Nuggets for Successful Living’. We organise seminars and conferences on how to be successful and tell the people to subscribe to these publications.
“If you subscribe with N10, 800, we give you N15, 000. If you subscribe with N18, 000, we give you N23, 000. I had about 30,000 subscribers and I was paying them.”
Obi, has however, denied any involvement in fraud, the diploma certified and consecrated bishop’s ministry that is headquartered in Agbor, in Delta State, has branches in Bayelsa, Onitsha, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja, and Benin City. Bishop Obi claimed that he was only
“doing the will of God by trying to help the people fight poverty.”
Because of the reverend gentleman’s strong desire to increase his “subscription base”, he relocated to Lagos, but the impatient, whistle blowing Lagosian subscribers gave him up to EFCC.
According to Obi,
“If they had allowed me to hold the conference in Lagos, I would have paid them”
However, some of his victims who thronged the EFCC office since his arrest, described him as a fraudster, claiming he defrauded them.
One of Obi’s canvassers, Janet Okafor, reportedly told the EFCC that Obi introduced himself as a representative of Gideons International, an organisation that distributes Bibles and Christian literature.
According to her,
“He organised seminars in Agbor market and claimed that he was from Gideons International and that their mission was to help eradicate poverty in Nigeria. He told us that unlike in the past when Gideons International distributed Bibles and Christian literature, their mission now was to eradicate poverty.”
“The Bishop knelt down and swore with the Bible; He convinced us that he was from Texas, USA and we believed him. I subscribed with N10, 800 and he paid me N15, 000. It was after this that he engaged over 60 of us as canvassers. I brought many people including my relations and friends. All together, they invested over N5 million,” the victim was quoted as saying.