The head of a Nigerian evangelical church has filed a civil suit against First City Monument Bank PLC (FCMB) over alleged defamation of character and breach of trust. Emmanuel Omale, a self-styled prophet and “General Overseer” of the Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry is suing the tier-2 lender for 50 billion naira for allegedly submitting a false report to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) stating that the church’s account was used to launder 570 million naira for Mr Ibrahim Magu, the now-suspended head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Mr Omale, who claims to be Mr Magu’s “spiritual guide”, asserts that the false report was injurious to him, his family and the church, subjecting them to embarrassment and public shaming after several media reports later claimed that the funds were used to purchase prime property for Mr Magu in the United Arab Emirates.
The suit numbered FCT/HC/CV/2020, was filed by Mr Omale, his wife, Deborah Omale, and the incorporated trustees of the Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry.
The claimant stated that in 2016, FCMB falsely reported to the NFIU that N570m was paid into the church’s bank account marked 1486743019 which caused security agents to place the account under surveillance for four years.
The statement of claim read in part, “Sometime on or about the 6th day of July 2020 the former acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu, was arrested and summoned to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, to appear before the Presidential Investigation Committee on the Alleged Mismanagement of the EFCC, Federal Government Recovered Assets and Finances From May 2015 to May 2020.
“That one of the key allegations levelled at the Presidential Investigation Committee against Mr Ibrahim Magu, was that the second claimant (Emmanuel Omale) fraudulently and corruptly purchased a real estate property for Mr Ibrahim Magu in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates with the said sum of N573, 228, 04 allegedly credited as an inflow into the first claimant’s (Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry) Corporate Current Account No: 1486743019 in the year 2016.”
The claimant stated that due to the investigation and negative media reports, they were exposed to public hatred and contempt, which has affected their ministry.
The cleric said he and his wife were summoned to appear on August 10, 2020, before a Presidential Investigation Committee at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Mr Omale and his wife, accompanied by their lead Senior Counsel, Gordy Uche (SAN), and a team of four senior lawyers appeared before the panel on August 10, 11, and 12 and were grilled for hours on their alleged roles in respect of the sum of N573m used in fraudulently and corruptly purchasing a real estate property for Magu in Dubai.
Mr Omale said that he paid Mr Uche 15 million naira to appear and represent them for three days before the said Presidential Investigation Committee and attached a copy of the receipt to the statement of claim.
Mr Omale said the panel headed by the retired justice Ayo Salami, in the course of its hearing also invited the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of FCMB, Adam Nuru, who appeared before the committee and testified.
“That Mr. Adam Nuru in his testimony informed the Presidential Investigation Committee that the said N573 million was credited to the bank account of the first claimant (church) in error and that the error was not discovered by the defendant for over four years,” Mr Omale said.
Mr Omale also added that he had paid 75 million to the law firm of Gordy Uche to file the lawsuit against FCMB and attached a copy of the receipt for the said professional fees to the statement of claim. He said in all, he had lost N180.5m due to payment of legal fees and personal losses.
Mr Omale is seeking a declaration of the court that FCMB negligently breached the fiduciary duty of care it owes the claimants by its false automated report to the NFIU of a suspicious credit inflow of N573m into the church account.
The statement of claim further read, “The sum of N5,000,000, 000.00 (Five Billion Naira) being exemplary, aggravated, special and general damages against the defendant for the negligent breach of its fiduciary duty of care to the claimants by its false automated report to the NFIU of a suspicious credit inflow of N573, 228, 040. 41 into the first claimant’s corporate current account number 1486743019 with the defendant, which has occasioned grave damages to the claimants.”