[UNDERCOVER INVESTIGATION] ENABLERS OF CORRUPTION (II): In Nigerian Church, Clergy Wants Share From Proceeds Of Crime

This is the second of a three-part series. You may read Part I here.

On an undercover mission on a sunny day in November 2022, I visited Celestial Church of Christ (CCC) Oluwadarasimi Parish, Apete, in Nigeria’s southern Oyo State. Apete is a sprawling community in Ibadan city, notable for housing students of The Polytechnic Ibadan, an institution of higher learning.

CCC Oluwadarasimi Parish, sited on Aimasiko street (named after the Shepherd-in-Charge of the worship centre), is a Bungalow building painted in white and blue. Two separate crosses man its main entrance.

Yahoo Boys
Frontage of the church
Yahoo Boys
The church’s entrance

Before embarking on the journey, I had preliminary information about how Celestial Church prophets prepare special soaps for cyber criminals and money launderers. In fact, according to my source, “Na cele soap sure pass [Celestial soap is very potent].”

Without beating about the bush and acting as a native of Ibadan, I inform Shepherd Aimasiko that I am a ‘Yahoo Boy’.

“I started sometime last year,” I explain. “Initially, I didn’t take it seriously. Not long ago, I decided to approach it with much seriousness.

“At the onset, I was only getting paltry sums. But now, things have become difficult: my clients no longer respond. I informed a guy who is like a younger brother to me in the neighbourhood, so he gave me your mobile phone line and directed me here for help. That’s why I’m here; I’m here for your assistance.”

The barefooted clergyman, wearing a white one-piece garment, asks the name of my acquaintance who referred me to him, and I mention “Ishola”.

“I’m convinced only God can take control. May He take control,” he says, before offering prayers which ended with Hallelujahs.

He issues a sprinkling of forewarnings, prior to announcing that he’ll prepare some lucky pieces to aid my Yahoo Yahoo ‘business’. “But the journey will cost you some money,” he states. “You’ll also need to be physically available. I’ll need you to come to this place at least four times consecutively. Before coming, I’d have prepared some things for you.”

Yahoo Boys
Shepherd Aimasiko

After he probes my readiness, I ask how much it’ll cost me and emphasise that I am not financially buoyant at the moment.

“My bill is not much; those that patronise me can testify,” he says.

Speaking in the same vein as Ustadh Zakariyau, the shepherd demands that I show gratitude if he helps.

“If only those we assist can be grateful. A lot of you tend to forget us once you get comfortable. You use the money you obtained for pleasure and extravagant lifestyle and forget about the place where God answered your prayers,” the Christian leader laments.

“Pastors Share Fraud Proceeds with Internet Fraudsters”

He continues: “I know what a lot of pastors from other churches take from internet fraudsters. Some (pastors) even insist on a 50/50 or 60/40 percent cut when the result is positive. But I won’t do that.”

Shepherd Aimasiko’s claim about clerics sharing from proceeds of crime is on the mark. In October 2020, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested an Apostolic Church pastor, Gbenga Moses Adesoji, in connection with a 12.7 million naira ‘Yahoo Yahoo’ fraud.

Yahoo Boys

Pastor Adesoji and his ‘Yahoo Boy’ associate were said to have conspired and defrauded their victim via various social media platforms and phone calls on the pretext that he (the victim) won a car, expensive phones and offer of employment into an attractive position.

Cleric Collects Tithe in Return for Working for ‘Yahoo Boy’

Pastors who act as spiritualists to ‘Yahoo Boys’ are often keen on remittance of tithes and offerings to the church. A tithe is a portion (10%) of one’s proceeds while offerings are something that are given, especially as part of religious worship or sacrifice.

Shepherd Aimasiko stresses the importance of paying “the scripturally-decreed tithes and offerings”.

“Once God answers your prayers, it is the tithe that is important to me. That is enough for me,” he says, before wailing about the “ingratitude” of many ‘Yahoo Boys’: “Tithe can be analogised this way: once your wish comes to pass and your client pays you a huge amount of money; let’s say you get paid 100,000 naira. 10 percent of 100,000 is 10,000 naira. That’s it.

“I do not do percentage, just the tithe. You put it in an envelope and pray on it. You’ll bring it to the church and we will pray on it as well.”

Making every effort to cajole me into paying tithes in the event I make money from cyber fraud, Shepherd Aimasiko speaks about at least two ‘Yahoo Boys’ who are frequent visitors to his church.

He keeps up with his psychological trick: “I made him (a ‘Yahoo Boy’) understand that for instance, if he gets money around 9:00 am, he has to bring his tithe to me, for God. If he gets another one in the afternoon, 12 noon, you have to bring 10 percent of it. Do not say because you have brought one in the morning then you will not bring any in the afternoon.

“It can be likened to when one buys five chickens or cattle, and you want to kill them for food. Will you remove the bile from only one of the chickens and not remove it from the rest? You have to remove bile from everything because you can’t eat it with the meat.

“It is in the Bible; ‘a tithe is like bile, you should not eat it’. It is not edible, it is bitter. If you wash bile with the meat, it will spoil the meat.

“Even if you are paid five times before the end of the day, you have to set aside 10 percent from each earnings.

“Do not say you won’t set aside your tithe from every money you get just because you have sent one. It will affect you negatively.”

Malachi 3:9-10 is often used to teach the need for Christians to tithe to local churches today. Shepherd Aimasiko quotes from the passage.

Immediate Needs to Prepare ‘Spiritual’ Concoction

He lists the immediate requirements thus: N16,200 (approximately 35 Dollars as of 11 April), cereal grains and fruits.

The fruits should comprise oranges, a bunch of bananas, and coconuts.

He adds: “You will be here for four consecutive days, have your spiritual bath daily and I will prepare some things for you.

“If I give you some soap to bathe and you do not do the necessary things, it might not be effective.”

I thank him and promise to source for money to enable him to get to work as soon as possible.

This is the second of a three-part series. You may read Part I here.

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