As Nigerian churches continue to rail against the recently signed Companies and Allied Matter Acts (2020), a section of which grants the Nigerian Government the power to appoint trustees for religious bodies in case of infractions, the United Kingdom has appointed an interim manager for a religious charity of Nigerian origin.
The interim manager will have the power to review the charity’s financial and governance processes of the north London-based Mountain of Fire and Miracles International and inspect a number of its branches and their handling of serious incidents.
“The interim manager assumes these duties at the exclusion of the charity’s trustees; the trustees retain control over matters relating to religious activities,” the Charity Commission said in a statement.
The appointment of the manager for Mountain of Fire and Miracles International came after an investigation
The UK’s Charity Commission said it began the investigation on March 27, 2018. It said the investigation is still ongoing
The Commission said it was concerned about the “apparent failures” of MFM International’s administration and management that allowed for huge losses to occur and “continued to occur over a prolonged period.”
It also condemned, among other infractions, the failure of the MFM International’s trustees to report the incidents of financial infractions to the police.
“The charity has repeatedly failed to submit returns and financial information to the Commission on time and its accounts for 2014 and 2015 were qualified by its auditors,” Charity Commission said in a statement in March 2018.
“The Commission has been in active engagement with the trustees of the charity since September 2017 having been made aware of potentially significant losses to the charity.”
MFM’s Trustees Indictment
The UK commission doubled down on its indictment of MFM’s trustees earlier in August. It said two separate incidents of fraud by former employees of the charity were not reported to the police “until a number of years after the frauds were discovered.”
It said only a “small percentage” of the stolen fund has been recovered.
MFM was also blamed for breaching its governing document by paying three of its trustees. The Charity Commission listed Dr Daniel Olukoya (chair), Florence Sankey O. A., Oluwafemi Emmanuel Oladipo, Bamidele Omotayo, Kehinde Williams and Enock Sunday Olaniyan as MFM International Trustees for the financial year ending December 31, 2018.
Although the Charity Commission did not say who were the three trustees that were paid, it clearly, however, said it had serious concerns about how the chairman of the trustee handled “serious incidents”.
“Despite the Commission’s continued engagement the trustees are still not complying with their legal duties, this includes failing to submit accurate financial accounts on time,” the Charity Commission said.
MFM International was not the first Nigerian-owned charity for which the UK government would appoint an interim manager.
The Charity Commission appointed Rod Weston of Mazars LLP, on 6 August 2014 to take over the management and administration of the Christ Embassy UK, founded by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, to the exclusion of trustees.
The Christ Embassy’s trustees were accused of several infractions including failure to “exercise reasonable care and skill in the execution of their roles and as a result exposed the charity to risk and financial loss” and failure to “comply with planning law and regulations and adhere to enforcement notices, causing the charity substantial financial loss.”