From prison to the pulpit

  • Wednesday, February 24, 2010 - THERESA ONWUGHALU
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He was a big-time international fraudster. Or how better do you describe a man who once duped a bank of N750m? Known as Alhaji Turkur among his ilk, many were those whose lives have taken a plunge into the abyss after an encounter with Festus Akhidenor. “I was a great 419 person,” he told Daily Sun recently. “From 1989, I have been involved in fraud and drugs.” He even built a hotel from the proceeds of crime.

But today, Festus Akhidenor is a changed man. Having quit the fraud business, he is now the founder of the Total Commitment Ministries in Festac Town, Lagos. Akhidenor was forced to retire from his 419 business after defrauding a bank of N750million. According to him, that event turned his life around for the better.
He also told Daily Sun how he started his fraud business gradually until he became a notable 419 kingpin.
“I was into the refrigeration business until I got duped,” he informed.

“Then, out of anger and frustration, I started locating those people who duped me and they were the ones who eventually taught me the business. In the beginning, the business was a fantastic one and I grew in it and got to the peak. You don’t need to work but just go around and dupe people of money that is not your own. Then, I operated from abroad and my business name was Alhaji Tukur.”

The last fraud he committed before he was arrested by God was when he, alongside his fellow fraudsters, stole the sum of N750m from a bank. He explained how he got the money.
“When I committed the fraud of N750 million, almost a billion naira, God asked me to return that money and I returned the money even when I did not have ten naira with me. I returned the money because I never wanted to go back to the prison anymore.” Elaborating on how he intercepted the money from the bank, the cleric said: “There was an account that had almost a billion dollars, and we had information about that account. We instructed the bank to transfer that money into our account and the money got in there. That was when God spoke to me and said, ‘return that money or else you will go to prison.’

Akhidenor stated that his business associates became mad at him for taking such an action which to them was very stupid. “Those I did business with never wanted me to return that money. It was quite difficult but I went on and asked my bank to refund the money because it was got from fraud.”
He also explained that he and his associates usually sourced information before embarking on a business venture. “There is always an insider who will give information. The insider gives details about the account number, how much is there, the timing and how to act to get positive result.”

Before then, he had spent some years in jail after defrauding a man. “I was caught and detained for four years and seven days,” he asserted. “It was during the imprisonment that Christ called me. The voice clearly said: ‘Son, do you want to see me?’ Then all of a sudden, my eyes were opened and I saw the throne of grace. Before then, I never believed that there is heaven. That vision showed clearly what heaven is.
“However, when I left the prison, I didn’t follow up with what I saw in that vision. I abandoned Jesus and continued my usual life until one day, a reverend from the United States came and lodged in my hotel. The reverend told me that my hotel business would not be fruitful since I had refused to answer God’s call.

“When I returned home that day, I prayed all through the night. Early in the morning, a man with a partial stroke and a lady came to me that they needed money to go to the hospital. At that point, I had just N1, 500 in the house. Then something prompted me and I asked them if they believed prayers could heal them. They said yes, and we started praying. I heard a voice telling me to touch the man’s hand, so I did. The voice again asked me to tell him to walk and I obeyed. Immediately, the man started walking and crying. They told me that they lived close to my place. I gave N500 out of the N1, 500 and they left with a promise that they would return to give thanks.

“When I did not see them after three days, I became angry and complained to my wife. Then that day, I sat on a chair, slept off and went into a trance. I heard a voice from God saying that those people were not sick but were His angels. They were sent to reveal God’s gift in me. God later showed me the picture of hell with a warning that if I refused to heed the call of God, that is where I would end up. That was how I started my ministry in 2006. I stopped committing 419 in 2003.”

Prophet Akhidenor will be conducting a crusade in his church later this month. He also spoke about the programme.
“The purpose of this crusade is for people to be saved because the end time is here. It is not just going to church but about hearing and doing the word. And the moment you have the word of God in you, you will excel. I do not preach about prosperity, I am preaching salvation. This is because if you are born again, you have to follow the step of Christ. People should be contented with what they have because doing evil does not pay.”

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