The UK Charity Commission says it is investigating SPAC Nation, a Nigerian-owned church, over allegations that its pastors told worshippers to “take out loans and sell their blood in order to pay for the church’s lavish spending.”
The church is run by Tobi Adegboyega, a Nigerian pastor.
Mail Online reports that the commission has ordered the church to bank all their money for the period of the investigation.
HuffPost UK previously reported that some members of the church allegedly took teenagers to donate blood for medical trials in a practice known as “bleeding for seed.”
In November, it was reported that SPAC Nation’s leaders threatened parishioners who failed to raise enough money and one pastor had even asked her followers to “beg, borrow or steal” in order to gather money for the church.
Mariam Mbula, a 30-year-old senior leader in the church, had reportedly been jailed in the UK, Belgium and Spain, and was also wanted for leading a crime gang in Italy.
The senior leader who had been praised for turning her life around after she was jailed for fraud at the age of 18, reportedly had at least 13 convictions for 34 offences; 27 for fraud and dishonesty.
In a statement, the commission said: “Of immediate concern to the commission is that substantial amounts of charity money are held in cash”.
“As a protective measure, the commission has issued an order under Section 84 of the Charities Act, requiring the charity to bank its money.
“The commission is also concerned about the apparent lack of clarity between the personal, business and charity roles of leaders within the charity.”
A spokesman of the commission was quoted as saying the issues raised about the church were “highly concerning”.
“The issues that have been raised related to SPAC Nation in recent weeks are highly concerning, even more so as the allegations are entirely at odds with the expectations about the way that charities will operate,” he reportedly said.
“The opening of this inquiry is an important step that will allow us to examine these concerns further and establish the facts.
Reacting in a statement from its board of trustees, SPAC Nation said the inquiry was “needful to lay to rest some unverified allegations”.
“If anything is found wrong we will adjust it, and if not we will keep going strong.
“If any pastor or leader is caught pressuring people to donate, such leader will be expelled without delay, not to talk of pressuring to donate blood for money.
“We encourage people to donate blood and all they can for the community but we also say not for money ever, that just won’t happen here.”