Daniel Olukoya, the General Overseer of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (MFM) falsely affirmed himself to be a legal resident of the State of Maryland in the United States for business purposes, official court documents show.
Olukoya made the false claim in the Articles of Incorporation of the church in Baltimore in 2002. In the Articles of Incorporation filed with the State of Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation, Olukoya claimed to be a Resident Agent for Service for MFM Baltimore, and personally signed the Articles in that capacity. (See certified copy of the Articles of Incorporation in story).
The laws of the State of Maryland require all corporations or organizations applying for registration in the State to designate a person or organization, who must be a legal resident of the State of Maryland, as Resident Agent for Service. The Resident Agent for Service of any organization is primarily to receive court and other legal processes for and on behalf of the organization.
Contrary to these stipulations, a SaharaReporters investigation reveals that Olukoya is not and has never been a legal resident of the State of Maryland.
The Articles of Incorporation containing the man of God’s false declaration came to light in the filings before the Circuit Court for Prince Georges’ County of the State of Maryland in an ongoing lawsuit instituted by MFM International (Lagos) against Lawrence Adetunji and Ronke Adetunji, two former pastors of MFM Bowie, Maryland. Also joined in the suit are 11 former members of the church, as well as Christ the Truth Ministries.
In their Motion to compel the testimony of Pastor Olukoya (see a copy of the Motion below), the defendants stated that they requested his presence at deposition or trial via a subpoena served through the plaintiff’s (Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries International’s) attorney, but the plaintiff refused to produce Olukoya for that purpose.
“The purported grounds that plaintiffs have cited in refusing to produce Olukoya is that he is ‘not a party’ to the litigation and that he ‘resides in Lagos, Nigeria’ and is therefore beyond service of process by the court,” the defendants’ motion further states.
They argue that Olukoya’s testimony is crucial in the case because he is the signatory of at least three documents that are central to their defense in the case.
They further assert that Olukoya is a Resident Agent for Service for Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, Baltimore, as demonstrated in that Church’s Articles of Incorporation. According to the claim, as Resident Agent for Service in the State of Maryland, Olukoya has subjected himself to Maryland State Courts’ jurisdiction and therefore is not beyond service of process by the court.
The defendants are therefore requesting the court to issue a subpoena to compel the attendance of Olukoya for deposition and at trial because his testimony is necessary for the purpose of justice in the case. As of the time of filing this report, the plaintiffs, MFM International have not filed a response to the defendants’ motion. Contrary to our earlier report, the trial is scheduled to start next Monday, October 23rd.
It would be recalled that about two weeks ago, we reported that in the defense and counterclaims filed before the court, the former pastors of MFM accused the leadership of MFM International (Lagos) of making false declarations to the United States Customs for the purpose of evading payment of duties to the US government on books exported from Nigeria and sold to members of MFM in the US.
While this allegation and Olukoya’s false declaration in the Articles of Incorporation involve knowingly making false statements, they also have different possible implications. For instance, while the false declaration to the U.S. Customs could lead to possible evasion of duties charges, the pastor’s false declaration he filed with the State of Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation could result in charges of perjury, depending on whether or not the declaration was made on oath.
Editor's Note: Sahara Reporters has published a rejoinder written by General Overseer Daniel Olukoya and MFM, which is appended to this article.
The article published by Sahara Reporters, for which this rejoinder is written presents a distorted view of the facts surrounding litigation concerning Mountain of Fire & Miracles Ministries, its branch in Bowie, Maryland, and its General Overseer Dr. Daniel Kolawole Olukoya.
In 2015, a Mountain of Fire regional overseer (Pastor Lawrence Adetunji, pastor of the MFM Bowie branch), and a group of local trustees left the Mountain of Fire churches. There was a dispute as to ownership of the church buildings, the contents, and the bank accounts. Mountain of Fire was forced to file suit in a Maryland Circuit Court to recover these assets.
The case was scheduled to begin trial on October 24, 2017. On October 19, 2017 (less than one week before trial), Sahara Reporters published the article to which this rejoinder is written, attempting to accuse Dr. Olukoya of dishonesty and to suggest that he was afraid to testify at the upcoming trial. It appeared to the Mountain of Fire legal team that this was a tactic on the part of the break-away congregation to attempt to influence the negotiations and trial preparation that were then ongoing. Mountain of Fire did not change its position in response to this published
The October 19 article stated that Dr. Olukoya was falsely claiming residence in the State of Maryland and that this had “come to light” in the course of this litigation. This was not true. In fact, the article admitted that it was referring to a corporate document that had been in the public records since June, 2002. Nothing “came to light” and it had all been public for 15 years. The corporate record had nothing to do with the upcoming litigation, or the church at issue, or any of the parties. In it, Dr. Olukoya was listed as having the address “care of” another named person living in the Baltimore. Dr. Olukoya was himself never part of the case going to trial. He had never claimed residence in the State of Maryland as associated with that litigation or any other; and has not knowingly made false representations in any publically filed document.
The Sahara Reporters October 24, 2017 article also suggested that Dr. Olukoya had been served with a subpoena but was trying to avoid giving testimony at the trial of the case. This was not true. No subpoena had ever been issued for Dr. Olukoya. He was in France at the time that his appearance was requested in the Maryland court. Nevertheless, in open court, the attorneys for Mountain of Fire offered to make Dr. Olukoya available to testify by remote conference if the attorney for Pastor Adetunji and the break-away trustees wanted to call him as a witness. When this offer was made, the attorney for Pastor Adetunji declined and never called Dr. Olukoya as a witness.
At the conclusion of the trial, the Circuit Court found in favor of Mountain of Fire against all of the break-away pastors and trustees by “clear and convincing evidence.”
The Court found that the substantial majority (more than 66%) of the congregation at the Bowie Branch had stayed loyal to Mountain of Fire. The Court found that Pastor Adetunji and the trustees with him had breached their fiduciary duties to Mountain of Fire and to the Bowie congregation.
The Court ordered all the land to be returned and retitled to Mountain of Fire, and with all of the building contents. It ordered that all of the bank accounts be restored to Mountain of Fire and when it was found that some of the money was missing, judgements were entered against the individual trustees to pay it back personally.
The Circuit Court findings were affirmed on appeal. Altogether, almost $1million was recovered and another $198,000 paid by the defendants personally.
The Court findings can be read in full here.
Mountain of Fire hereby sets the story straight, and provides the full picture of the events that were the subject of the original reporting.