A former pastor of the Christian Charismatic Ministries, Rev. Joseph Ndolo, on Thursday insisted before an Enugu magistrates’ court that his signature was forged in a document forwarded to the Corporate Affairs Commission by the church’s General Overseer, Rev. Dr. Sabinus Onuigbo, to change the trustees of the church.
Onuigbo and five senior pastors of the CCM – Pastor Tony Chukwu, Pastor Chukwuma Orji, Pastor Nick Nwoye and Pastor Tony Ike – are facing trial before the magistrates’ court, presided over by Chief Magistrate J. O. Umezuruike, over alleged forgery.
They were accused of conspiring to commit forgery, an offence punishable under section 495 (a) of the Criminal Code, cap. 30, Vol. 11, Laws of Enugu State of Nigeria 2004.
According to the charge sheet in the suit numbered CME/56C/2017, the General Overseer and the other accused persons, on or about July 16, 2014, and August 10, 2014, forged and appended Ndolo’s signature on some documents without lawful authorisation.
Onuigbo and the others allegedly used the forged signature to apply to the Corporate Affairs Commission to change the trustees of the church.
Testifying while being cross examined by counsel for the accused persons, J. C. Eneh, at the continuation of hearing in the matter on Thursday, Ndolo maintained that his signature was forged.
Ndolo, who is the chief witness in the forgery case, said he had already left the CCM since 2011, having joined the Anglican Church, at the time his signature was allegedly appended on various documents by the accused persons in 2014.
“I left the CCM in 2011, before then I was one of the registered trustees of the church, as well as the national secretary, until 1999 when I resigned those positions,” he said.
The pastor insisted that there was no way he could have signed the minutes of a meeting of the CCM, where the alleged decision to change the church’s trustees was taken, as he did not attend the said meeting, having already left the church.
When the defence counsel observed that it was ‘appropriate’ to replace Ndolo as one of the trustees of the CCM after he left the church, the pastor noted that his replacement was effected in an illegal manner by the accused persons.
He said, “The constitution of the CCM provides that when a trustee of the Ministry leaves, the Board of Trustees will re-appoint to replace the person.
“But the document (sent to the CAC) was not a product of the BOT of the the CCM.
“The CCM has a right to replace my name as a registered trustee since I have left the Ministry but I was not in the meeting where the decision was taken, neither did I participate in the process.
“So my signature in the document that emanated from the said meeting was forged, because I was not there.
“The validity of the process (of removal of a registered trustee) is enshrined in the constitution governing CCM – if the constitution was followed, then the validity will be established but it was not followed.”
Ndolo had earlier, while testifying before the court, disclosed that he was writing an examination at the Institute of Theology and Mission, Enugu, on the date the accused persons appended his signature in a document purported to be the minutes of a meeting of the leaders of the Ministry.
According to him, “Upon my resignation on May 13th, 2011, I left and became a member of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion. From that day I never participated in any engagement of the CCM.
“I was not part of the meeting of 16th July, 2014 – I was having a theology exam at the Institute of Theology and Mission on that day.”
It would be recalled that the crisis in the church, which culminated in the move to change the Ministry’s trustees, ensued after the Interim Board of Trustees/Elders of the CCM suspended Onuigbo, the General Overseer, at a meeting in Enugu on May 30, 2014.