THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – A recent report has revealed the lavish life of UK-based Nigerian pastors, including plush mansions, a £120,000 birthday party and thousand of direct debit forms every week from worshippers.
According to the report which was gatherered by a British newspaper, Pastor Ashimolowo and Alex Omokudu, who were described as ‘Britain’s loaded pastors’, live in sprawling seven-figure mansions while their congregations are told to hand over money often straight from their salaries.
The pastors are said to lead church services where they claim people have been cured of life threatening illness, sometimes on the spot.
Omokudu continues to promote videos such as one claiming a young boy has been cured of cancer as the pastor placed his hands on him, based on findings.
The reporters said they witnessed worshippers being told ‘God wants you to give all your money to him’ and warned about ‘disobedience to God’ before being handed direct debit forms.
The pastors claim to share their wealth with those who need it, but the reporters say they can reveal financial dealings which have seen them acquire lavish lifestyles most worshippers can only dream of.
Omokudu, they say, claims to be ‘heavily annointed with healing powers from God’. His church takes more than £1 million a year in donations from devoted worshippers.
Omokudu was said to have moved to UK in 2002 and started his church Victorious Pentencostal Parish (VPA) there three years later.
Today, Omokudu is said to own an extravagant £2 million nine-bedroom mansion in Hornchurch, Essex. The gated mansion homes five reception rooms, a swimming pool, a sauna and a 250ft garden. The same pastor also owns a £600,000 property located nearby.
In contrast to Omokudu’s lavish lifestyle, his website message says:
‘My wealth belongs to the people, whatever I have I give out. People are suffering and need help.’
A reporter who visited the main church in Barking, East London, said the worshippers in the church were repeatedly told, ‘Give your money to God to get ahead of others.’
Despite vowing to serve the worshippers who donate over £1 million a year, Omokudu personally takes an annual rent of £102,000 for the building where they worship.
Investigations had revealed that Omokudu had purchased the property for £1 million with the help of a loan from London-based Kenyan called Kennedy Kulei.
Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo, on the other hand, launched his church Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) in 1992 from a rented hall.
Now, twenty-five years later, his church has £16.4 million worth of assets, £500,000 in the bank and gathers £8 million revenue every year.
The church also enjoys an army of volunteers who work over 300,000 hours of free labour worth more than £2 million a year.
Ashimolowo lives rent free in a £1.1 million nine-bedroom home in Romford, Essex, owned by the church. Reporters say they have obtained documents that show that the property was purchased by charity.
He and his wife own a second £600,000 home in Grays, Essex, currently occupied by their son.
He used to earn around £50,000 a year until 2005, when a probe by the Charity Commission found that he had flouted charity rules by being a trustee and paying himself a salary. is wife Yemisi who is also a senior pastor at the church both earn around £50,000 a year for ‘pastoral services’.
Charity Commission had also found that Ashimolowo used church funds to pay for a £102,000 birthday party for himself at a London hotel, an £80,000 new Mercedes Benz and a £13,000 Florida timeshare.
More than £500,000 have been paid by the church to his own private companies including Matthew Ashimolowo Media Ministries which publishes books and DVDs of his teachings.
In an interview this year, Ashimolowo said:
‘Money is called currency because it flows to where it ia celebrated, to wherever it is respected and showed it is needed and can be handled well.
Anything God blesses me with I just use to bless others. I don’t stack it somewhere.’
However, the reporter who visited his church in Walthamstow, East London, lamented that the service seemed like a sales pitch. The sermon, on that day, ‘The Power of the Tithe’ listed 14 reasons why worshippers should donate ten percent of their income to church.
Ashimolowo told worshippers at his church that, ‘If you do not pay tithe, it is like you do not really trust God.’
He described tithe money as an ‘insurance against Satan’. If you refuse to pay tithe to God, it is ‘impossible for Him to realease your harvest’, the pastor was noted to have said to worshippers at his church.
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