An Ekiti State High Court in Ado Ekiti on Thursday sentenced two men, a 63-year-old cleric, Adereti Ebenezer, and a 68-year-old chief, Akinyede Joseph, to three years in prison each for forgery.

They were arraigned before Judge Lekan Ogunmoye on October 18, 2021 on four counts bordering on conspiracy, forgery, making false affidavits and making unauthorized documents.

According to the indictment, Joseph and Ebenezer on January 10, 2016, at Ilado Street, Iwore, Ifaki Ekiti, “conspired to falsify the meeting minutes of the registered trustees of the United Church of Cherubim and Seraphim Organization.”

They were also accused of making “false representations that they were appointed as members of the registered trustees of the church and also amended the constitution of the registered trustees of the church without legal authority.

According to the prosecutor, Gbemiga Adaramola, the crimes contravened articles 516, 467, 191 and 473 of the Penal Code Cap. C16, Vol.1, Laws of Ekiti State, Nigeria, 2012.

In his statement to the police, one of the trustees, Faseyi Albert, said: “I was appointed along with others as the church’s board of trustees in 2001.

The appointment was sent to the Corporate Affairs Committee for ratification.

“After the death of the Primate and Archbishop of the Church, Monsignor SA Fadeyi, the bishop in council accordingly ratified the appointment of the Rt. Rev. Tunde Ogunseemi as the organization’s new primate/archbishop in 2015.

“During the hand search conducted by CAC, it was discovered that the Rt. Rev. Adereti Ebenezer, who was the 3rd Archbishop of the church and Chief Akinyede Joseph, tampered with some documents indicating that the trustees had met and a decision was made to remove the name of the Most Reverend Tunde Ogunseemi; the minutes of the same meeting were falsified, among others, and presented to the CAC.

“It is also alleged that I was introduced at the meeting. The matter was subsequently reported to the police for investigation and action,” he said.

The prosecutor, Adaramola, called five witnesses.

The defendants, who spoke through their lawyer, Ayotunde Ibitoye, called four witnesses and pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy.

In his sentence, Judge Lekan Ogunmoye, who said there was overwhelming evidence before the court that the defendants conspired to forge the signatures of the board of directors and the minutes of the meeting of the registered directors, acquitted them and cleared them of the charge three (false statement).

Ogunmoye, however, said: “The defendants are sentenced to one year in prison each on counts one, two and four (conspiracy, forgery and unauthorized document making) with a fine option of N20,000, for each charge. The statements must be executed concurrently.