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Pastor Michael Oluronbi and wife Juliana were jailed for historical child abuse/Photo: WEST MIDLANDS POLICE

Nigerian pastor, wife jailed in UK for 34 years

A self-proclaimed pastor was sentenced to 34 years imprisonment in Birmingham, UK, on Friday, after he was convicted of a series of rape and sexual abuse of children and adults over a period of twenty years.

Michael Oluronbi, 60, was convicted of 15 counts of rape, seven counts of indecent assault and two counts of sexual assault at a trial that ended in January.

The self-styled ‘prophet’ was initially of a branch of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church, which was founded in Nigeria, carried out “one of the worst cases of sexual abuse” against children to come to court, the judge said.

Oluronbi, a pharmacist, set up a splinter group separate from the church and at another address for about 40 members – adults and children, where he began his practice of “spiritual bathing”, jurors heard.

The offences began in 1989 when he set up a church group at a house in Winson Green, Birmingham. It was after these church meetings the abuse for many of his victims would take place. 

The court was told there were at least 88 separate occasions on which he raped his victims, who are now adults.

Some offences were carried out after he convinced some of his victims to take part in “spiritual bathing”, which he said would “cleanse” them of evil spirits.

But Philip Bradley QC, prosecuting, told the trial Oluronbi’s true purpose “was to serve his sexual gratification”.

In some cases, he added, the offender “progressed to repeated rapes, on many occasions leading to unwanted pregnancies and terminations”.

“One of his victims was as young as nine when the abuse began and for some it continued into adulthood. Oluronbi would brainwash his victims into thinking that the abuse was a normal part of their religion, claiming that it warded off evil and even that it would help improve their school grades,” the police said.

His wife Juliana Oluronbi, who arranged abortions after four girls became pregnant, was jailed for 11 years.

Judge Sarah Buckingham called Oluronbi “arrogant, selfish and vain”, adding, “You abused your position of trust.

“They (his victims) trusted you like God…. In my judgment, your offence must be one of the worst cases of sexual abuse of multiple children to come before the courts.”

When asked about the offences, which took place in Birmingham and London dating back to the 1980s, the court was told, he said,“The devil made me do it.”

In statements read to the court one of the victims, now in her thirties, said Oluronbi had “taken my innocence, my youth and my purity as a child”.

Another said: “I used to eat soap until I was physically sick so I could get rid of this man’s mark on me inside and out”.

A third woman said she no longer attended church. “I don’t think I can ever place my faith in religion again. I trusted him”, she said, “because he was like God on earth.”

Last year, a family member of one of the victims confronted Oluronbi and his wife at their home address where he claimed the devil made him carry out the abuse. He was arrested by police last year at Birmingham airport on his way to Nigeria.

Detective Inspector Dave Sproson, from the Public Protection Unit, said: “These were sickening crimes committed against children who had put their trust in Oluronbi and looked up to him.

“I hope these sentences offer some closure to the victims and I would like to thank them for their bravery throughout the trial. I would like to reassure anyone who has been through anything similar that we will investigate and prosecute those responsible.

Austin Ohaegbu

 

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