30th March, 2011
Pastor Bolaji Balogun, founder of Praise Evangelical Healing Ministry a.k.a. Hossana, situated at 2, Akeju Street, Ijako, Sango Ota, Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria, has confessed to the police at Adeniji Adele Road, Lagos Island that he has been using his church as cover up for his criminal activities.
He allegedly buys stolen vehicles from car snatchers and resells them to unsuspecting members of the public with forged vehicle particulars. He has been doing this since 1989.
He also confessed that he is not ordained by God to be a pastor or heal anybody but his activities are to enable him get rich quick.
The police alleged that the pastor-turned stolen car dealer was arrested following the arrest of a serial car snatcher identified as Bamidele who specialises in snatching vehicles around Sango Ota, Ifo, Idiroko and Abeokuta towns.
A man called Kehinde now at large was also linked with the theft of a Honda Accord Halla car series 2, which he allegedly sold to the pastor for N200,000. Bamidele allegedly snatched the car from the owner at gun point.
The police further alleged that the suspected car snatcher was arrested following a tip off from members of the public.
P.M.NEWS gathered that during interrogation, Bamidele confessed to the crime and mentioned the said Pastor Bolaji as the receiver of all the stolen cars his gang had snatched.
Bamidele led the police to the pastorâ€™s church which also serves as his residence on 10 March, 2011, where the pastor was arrested and the Honda car recovered with other five cars, including a Toyota Celica and Mercedes Benz which were undergoing refurbishment. Other cars had been dismantled to be sold.
Other items recovered by the police include assorted vehicle windscreens and door glasses with different vehicle registration numbers, charms and fetish objects inside Bolajiâ€™s cupboard.
When the police asked the suspect what a pastor does with charm and the fetish objects, he said he combines native herbs with the preaching of the Bible to deceive people and collect money from them.
In his confessional statement to the police, Balogun said: â€œI am from Abeokuta town. â€œI am a divorcee with three children and trained as a motor mechanic. I was born in 1956. I combine selling of stolen vehicles with church activities to get rich quick.
â€œI was not ordained to be a pastor or heal anybody and I am not a native doctor. I only combine both to deceive members of the public and my congregation. I built my church and a 2-bedroom bungalow in the same compound from the proceeds of the sales of stolen vehicles.
â€œI buy stolen vehicles from different sources, refurbish them and resll to members of the public and since then, I have never encountered any problem except in 2008 when I was accused of sleeping with one of my church female members and I was dragged to the Sango Ota Magistrateâ€™s Court where the case is still pending. This led my wife to disappear with my three children and to date I canâ€™t find them.â€
The police are still interrogating him.