The case has been on at an Ibadan court for 22 years.
An Oyo State High Court on Thursday ruled that a former President of the Christ Apostolic Church, Elijah Oluseye, and others, should answer for fraud charges brought against them.
Justice Abimbola Adejumo-Obaseki, who made the pronouncement at a court session in Ibadan, said evidences and documents in support of the charge against the accused persons are strong enough to allow their prosecution.
Other persons standing trial with Mr. Olusheye are Johnson Ayo Olabisi, the Oyo State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN); Gideon Okegwemeh, the general secretary of a faction of the church’s executive; and Abdulhakeem Mohammed of the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, Abuja.
They were accused of conspiracy and forgery in a suit against them by the Federal Government.
While delivering the ruling, the judge said a prima facie case has been established by the prosecution against the accused persons in seven out of the nine-count charges.
According to him, though the defence lawyer only responded to an initial five-count charge which the prosecutor had filed to amend to nine-count on February 13, and had been allowed accordingly, the court’s ruling would be based on the amended charges.
He said counts one to six of the charge centred on allegations of forgery of minutes of meetings, conspiracy, fraudulently obtaining registration certificate of the Christ Apostolic Church CAC among others.
All these, the judge maintained, would require that the accused persons put up defence, particularly, on some of the grievous allegations raised.
The judge, however, struck out counts 7 and 8 for lack of substantive evidence.
Noting that a no-case submission could only subsist if prosecution evidences are lacking in merit, the judge said upon perusal, he was convinced that evidences supporting counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9 are strong enough to link the accused persons to the crime.
He said they would need to clear themselves before the court.
The case has been adjourned to October 28 and 29 and November 15 to allow the accused persons open their defence.
The case, which started some 22 years back, has led to a sharp division within church with the two factions laying claim to its ownership.
The then factional leaders, Nelson Udofia and Joshua Ogunlade, died in the process.
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