Nigeria is a fertile ground for religions especially Christianity and Islam.
Over the years, the most populous African nation has contributed significantly to the growth of these two Abrahamic religions.
Both government and individuals have shown great commitment to the promotion and systemic growth of these two religions.
From sponsoring of pilgrimage to holy lands (Mecca and Jerusalem) to securing of paid scholarships to learn more about these religions.
According to Wikipedia, there are 23 notable head churches with widespread branches more than 20000 in Nigeria.
This said statistics does not include numerous new generation of pentecostal churches including the Synagogue – Church of All Nations which was founded by Pastor Temitope Balogun fondly called TB Joshua.
As at the time of filing this report, there is no actual number of churches in Nigeria.
However, some Nigerian pastors have introduced new dimensions to modern Christianity with claims that they can perform miracles, heal the sick and do exactly like prophets of the old.
As much as these claims attract new people from different parts of the world including the continent it originated from, boosting the tourism sector of the country, they also attract condemnations, criticisms and sometimes prosecution.
Call it persecution or prosecution, there is definitely a price for everything.
Religion has no doubt made numerous pastors rich and connected. It has also made some pastors done some crazy, evil and questionable things.
From alleged rape to ritualism to murder to fraud, it has been a web of crimes and a complete ridicule for others.
A check by WITHIN NIGERIA revealed that a number of popular prophets and pastors have one-time been arrested over these criminal acts, leading to the prosecution and imprisonment of few.
WITHIN NIGERIA compiled the list of some Nigerian pastors who moved from ‘altar to prison’.
Chukwuemeka Ezeugo fondly called Reverend King is a native of Umulekwe village in the Achina community of the Aguata local government area, Anambra State, Nigeria.
Ezeugo is the founder of the Christian Praying Assembly, a religious organization. In 2006, he rose to nationwide recognition following the murder of a church member, Ann Uzoh.
On 26 September 2016, Ezeugo was arraigned before the Lagos High Court on 6 charges of murder and attempted murder.
He was arrested and charged to court primarily due to the murder of Ann Uzo, one of his members to which he pled ‘not guilty’, as she was said to have died as a result of Ezeugo setting her on fire, with eyewitnesses saying he did it because he caught the victim in the act of fornication.
He was subsequently sentenced to death in January 2007 and his conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court of Nigeria on 26 February 2016.
Prophet Alfa Babatunde Samuel, the founder of Sotitobire Miracle Center situated in Ondo State.
He was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment for involving in the missing of a kid identified as Gold Kolawole during a church service.
The prophet was arrested on November 10, 2019 after the parents of the missing child petitioned the church. The prophet was jailed with six others.
However, a court of appeal sitting in Akure, capital of Ondo State set aside the judgment of the Ondo State High Court that sentenced the founder of the Sotitobire Praising Chapel, Prophet Alfa Babatunde, to life imprisonment over a missing child and freed him from prison.
Israel Oladele Ogundipe fondly called Genesis is the presiding Shepherd of Celestial Church of Christ Genesis Global, a fast growing Celestial church.
Justice Olabisi Akinlade had on November 18 sentenced the popular prophet to one-year imprisonment for converting a woman’s property to his personal use and stealing.
The court had found Ogundipe guilty of stealing and unlawful conversion of the property of a London-based architect, Mrs Oladele Williams-Oni.
However, the Prophet was granted a ‘ post-conviction bail’ by the Court of Appeal after five months in prison citing serious health challenges as excuses.
Glory Okeoghene Aberefa
Pastor Glory Okeoghene Aberefa on July 28, 2020 was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment by F. N. Azinge of the Delta State High Court sitting in Otor-Udu for stealing the sum of N32,516,620.00 (Thirty-Two Million, Five Hundred and Sixteen Thousand, Six Hundred and Twenty Naira).
The convict already in prison, was earlier jailed 17 years by both the Federal High Court, Asaba and Delta State High Court, Warri. He would now serve a new sentence, after completion of the extant 17 years imprisonment.
Pastor Basil Princewill is the founder of Mountain Movers Fire Ministry in Abuja.
The pastor on June 25, 2019 was reportedly sentenced to 7 years imprisonment for raping, impregnating and drugging a 14-yr-old girl between July 27 and December 31, 2011, at his church and also impregnated her.
He was also reported to have given the victim drugs in order to abort the pregnancy.
Pastor Onuigbo was the general overseer of the Christian Charismatic Movement [CCM], primarily based in Enugu before he was imprisoned by a competent court.
The General Overseer, Sabinus Onuigbo, was sentenced to seven years imprisonment over forgery by an Enugu magistrate court.
He was convicted along with three other clerics, Tony Chukwu, Chukwuma Orji Victor and Nick Nwoye for the same offence.
Pastor Omotosho is the founder of Dominion International Church, in South Africa.
It was gathered that the televangelist was accused of rape by a South African, Cheryl Zondi, 22, who said the pastor had been raping her since she was 14.
The pastor was already in prison prior to this, awaiting trial for 97 charges leveled against him.
He was accused of human trafficking, racketeering, and rape of his church members.
Pastor Oluronbi was sentenced to 34 years in prison by a court in the United Kingdom after he was found guilty of raping underage for a 20-year period.
According to reports, he performed an exorcism on church members and used the opportunity to have intercourse with them in disguise of cleansing them.
Additional reports revealed that he did this in collaboration with his wife.
He was said to have committed the act during religious bathing rituals he claimed would wash their sins away and cleanse them from evil spirits.