A five-man forgery has been arrested in Lagos following their daring escapade of forging the signature of Cardinal John Onaiyekan of the Catholic Archdiocese, St. James Catholic Church, Abuja.
Onaiyekan is a former president of the Christian Association of Nigeria.
The arrested suspects are Ikenna Aningwu, 28; Ebere Okere, 36; Toyin Dada, 36; Naboth Iyke, 35; and Yomi Alalade, 39.
They were caught while presenting the documents to the Consulate General of the Italian Embassy on Victoria Island in order to secure six visas for intending Christian pilgrims to Rome.
According to police, the embassy contacted the cardinal to verify the signature.
“The cardinal said he had never had any encounter with any of the suspects before and denied the signature as his.”
After petitioning the Zone 2 Police Command, Onikan, Lagos, the embassy called the suspects that the visas were ready and they should come to pick them up.
Aningwu was arrested when he went to pick one of the visas. Other members were said to have taken off immediately they knew of the arrest.
The suspects were on Thursday arraigned in Igbosere Magistrate’s Court on three counts bordering on forgery and fraud.
Police prosecutor, Sergeant Chinedu Njoku, told the court that the offences contravene sections 366 and 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State of Nigeria, 2015.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges and elected summary trial.
Chief Magistrate A.F.O. Botoku granted them bail in the sum of N100,000 each with two sureties each in like sum.
He adjourned the case till January 17, 2018.