The Enugu State Police has arrested five members of a syndicate, who collaborated with church owners to confirm fake prophecies, by dishing out forged testimonies in order to increase patronage and membership. It was gathered that the group usually faked healings for the men of God, who contracts and pays them for their services.
The suspects, Obi Ejike from Ubaho, Okija in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State; Kuku Mary, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State; Oluwakemi Joy, Lagos State; Nwosu Chizoba, Umunze in Anambra State, and Peter Uchechi from Ebonyi State, were nabbed at Holy Ghost Park axis on Friday, 19th August, following an altercation among them on how to divide their booty, which drew the attention of a police patrol team.
Revealing their modus operandi, a member of the group, Uchechi, said they were recruited in large numbers and kept in a house from where they would shuttle to confirm fake prophecies and stage-manage miracles for pastors.
They usually received their pay depending on their roles through a coordinator, who acted as a middleman between the syndicate and the pastors. When they arrive in the church, a man, who works for the pastor, would enlighten them on the nature of the assignment. Uchechi further explained that before the scheduled church service, they would list their names and the fake ailments they had, which would be given to the pastor while ministering to the congregation.
According to Uchechi:
“we operate in all the states nationwide. Once our boss calls, he will give us the contact of the church owner.
“When we arrive, we will go through the stories with the prophet or church owner before the crusade starts. The idea is for the prophet to be familiar and abreast with the story.
“When it is prophetic hour, the prophet will bring us out from the crowd to the pulpit. Thereafter, the prophet, who then pretends to be praying, will touch us and we will fall down.
“The prophet will then reveal our life challenges, which supposedly brought us to the church for miracle, and we will confirm the story. At that point, the congregation will erupt in joy not knowing that all they were witnessing was a written script meant to attract patronage and membership to the church.
“After the prophetic hour, offering time will follow. It is well designed to rake in money during offering. Some people will donate their cars, write cheques and make pledges. There are a lot of problems in the society, so people are looking for quick fix.
“We were at the bus stop around P&T axis in Enugu, when police swooped on us. We had operated at a ministry at Emene, Enugu, and were returning to Abuja when altercation broke out over sharing formula of the proceeds, when police arrested us.”
Another member of the group, Chizoba, said she started the ‘business’ in Abuja, after finding it difficult to fend for her baby, who she had out-of-wedlock. According to her, she eventually relocated to Onitsha, Anambra State, to team up with the syndicate.
Two other members of the syndicate, Oluwakemi and Kuku, claimed to be widows with four children each, adding that hardship pushed them into the crime.
Confirming the arrest, Police Public Relations Officer, Ebere Amaraizu, revealed that manhunt for other fleeing accomplices has been launched, adding “they will be prosecuted as they have made confessional statements.”
He went on to advise the public on the need to “be wary of new generational churches that spring up at every 10-meter radius in a desperate bid to make a living for themselves”.