By Albert Akpor
WHEN in 2006, the story of the sacrilegious activities of one Emeka Ezeugo alias â€˜Reverend Kingâ€™ of the Christ Praying Assembly (CPA) located somewhere on Ajao estate, Lagos hit the town, it sounded more fictional than factual until those who actually tasted the bitter pills of the self~ acclaimed `Jesus of our time` came out in their numbers to testify to his ungodly activities.
His trials and subsequent conviction by a Lagos high court howeverÂ put paid to the fact that most Pentecostal churches today, are far from preaching and practising the gospel as contained in the Holy Bible.
Curiously, while the hazy dust razed in the â€˜Reverend Kingâ€™sâ€™ saga is yet to settle in the eyes of many,Â a similar bizarre activities seemed to be going on in another Lagos church again.
The church, christened Christian Bible Ministry (CBM), is located in an obscure area on Dunamis Street behind Apakun Saw Mill,Â along Murtala Mohammed Airport Road, Mafoluku, Oshodi, not too far from â€˜Reverend Kingâ€™s CPA in such manner that it is ordinarily difficult to know if there was any building in that area.
There is no banner nor signboard as is common with most churches today to depict that a church is located in there.Â Reports said the church, which started over 20 years ago in a village in Imo State and was founded by one Reverend Barnabas who had since been allegedly edged out by other pastors who served under him for his alleged hardline stand and is now fully enmeshed in absurdities.
Saturday Vanguard scooped that one Pastor Emeka Okafor who succeeded Reverend Barnabas died shortly afterwards following an alleged curse laid on him by the said aggrieved Reverend Barnabas.
However, a twist was said to have been introduced into doctrines of the church after the wife of the late Pastor Emeka, Prophetess Felicia Okafor, formed a separate ministry under the same church and named it â€œMinistry of Sacrificeâ€.
This, she did,Â after she reportedly returned from a fasting and praying exercise on an unnamed mountain of God.Â The Ministry which underwent metamorphosis from the original â€˜Sacrificeâ€™ to â€˜Separationâ€™ and then â€˜Raising the Deadâ€™ was for specific members of the church who were ready to sacrifice all they had, including separating from their respective spouses.
Smarting from the mountain of God, the prophetess was said to have calledÂ members of her ministry to tell them that God revealed to her that what could not be achieved by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden would be fulfilled in her.
She was reported to have told the congregation that members were now brothers and sisters and therefore, there was nothing to hide from each other.
To buttress her claims, she allegedly stripped herself naked before the congregation and instructed each member to follow suit.Â The implication was that all of them are now one.Â In addition,Â Â a married female member from that day on was barred from having anything to do with her husband sexually.Â She is subsequently â€˜assignedâ€™ to a brother in the Ministry.
If perceived to be having sexual relationship with her legitimate husband,Â she would be termed to have committed adultery.Â The punishment is 14 strokes of an armoured cable and grinded pepper in her private part.Â Â Same thing goes withÂ male members.
A sister named Chinyere was reportedly beaten to pulp and candle stick inserted into her private part allegedlyon the instruction of the Prophetess for reportedly committing fornication with a male member of the church.Â She left the church without hesitation.Â Â Another sister, Mrs Stella Goodnews whose husband is a Pastor in the church also suffered similar fate.
She was allegedly stripped naked as is the custom, flogged severally and grinded pepper poured into her private part for confessing that she fornicated with her husband.
After her ordeal, she reportedly suffered two miscarriages and a doctor later confirmed that she may not be able to bear children any longer as she had developed inflamation in the womb.
Seven members of the church who left on discovering the unethical practice there were said to have died under mysterious circumstances.Â Â However, the bubbleÂ there, here the bubble burst recently after a Pastor in the church, Friday Oforegbu, could no longer withstand the excruciating pains of 17 strokes of the armoured cable and peppery substance rubbed on his body that he had to ran to the X-Squad at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID),Â Panti, for refuge.
Sources said Pastor Oforegbuâ€™s grievances was further aggravated after his wife, Jocintha, was assigned to one brother Paul, which meant he could no longer relate with his wife as a husband.Â His report, therefore, prompted detectives who stormed the church and got its key members, including the General Overseer, Pastor Vincent Uzuegbu arrested for questioning.
But when Saturday Vanguard was able to locate the church on Sunday August 30, 2009 at about 4.30pm after a painstaking search and met Pastor Uzuegbu, he described the allegations as â€œlies, greed and quest for position.â€Â The fair complexioned well built and handsome Pastor who was leaning close to his Hummer Jeep which has its plate number customised and marked Okenna 1(meaning strong father or Share from God the Father in Igbo translation), exclaimed and said, â€œMy brother, God bless you for coming to know the truth.
I know those who gave you the story because they are those we sent away from this church because of their promiscuity.Â All they have told you are lies borne out of greed and unguided ambition for position.
â€œYes, some of the questions you asked are true. But most are fabricated.Â Perhaps, you may want me to take you to the history of the church.
The Christian Bible Mission is an old church which started in a village in Imo State about 29 years ago.Â I came to join them some 15 years ago when the church was in a primary school in Amukoko in Lagos.Â The original founder was Reverend Barnabas Iwundu who left in the face of glaring irreconcilable differences with key members.
It was after he left that Pastor EmekaÂ Okafor and his wife, Prophetess Felicia took over the mantle of leadership of the church.Â But we still relate with Reverend Barnabas today as the founder of the church.
Even when we wanted to register the church,Â we approached him three times to tell him about the need to get the church registered but he drove us out of his house.
But at the Corporate Affairs Commission, and of course,on certificate of registration, his name is there as one of the board of trustees.Â To tell you the truth, Reverend Barnabas left the church when it was discovered that he was not practising what he preached.Â The church headquarters was in Ogba under him but go there today, it has collapsed because he was fornicating with female members.â€
But when Reverend Barnabas was called on a GSM number provided, a little girlâ€™s voice was heard and she said, â€œMy daddy is not around now, please call back around 8.00pm.â€Â However, when the line was called back, it was switched off.
Continuing, Pastor Uzuegbu said,Â Â â€œProphetess Felicia is one woman of God that is so blessed and filled with the holy spirit of God.Â She was the one that founded the â€˜Ministry of Sacrificeâ€™, a praying ministry in the church.Â What the ministry stands for is simple: detaching oneself from earthly things.
â€˜Raising the dead ministryâ€™ which they also told you alsoÂ means resurrecting members from sins, it does not mean physically raising a dead person.Â We do not raise dead persons here.
The fact that brothers are assigned to sisters or vice versa, it also means that one person is acting as a watch dog to the other.Â My brother, the ministry of sacrifice is such a strong one so much so that many members clamour to join.Â If Pastor Friday is saying that he was flogged that is why he left, that means he has forgotten that he was the Provost Marshal of the church.
He was responsible for flogging erring members.Â Â Â In fact, when Pastor Austin Okocha confessed that he lust after a lady who exposed half of her breasts while on alms begging, it was Pastor Friday Oforegbu who flogged him before the congregation.
So, when Sister Hope confessed that she was fornicating with Pastor Friday, there was no option than to visit the corporal punishment on him too.
It is the tradition!Â It may also interest you that Pastor Friday embezzled the church money and as I speak with you now, he still has a case with the Satellite Town Police Station.
â€œ The Sister Stella you are talking about, she came here with the disease, and I know the personal sacrifices I played to see that she was let off the grip of the disease.Â I prayed and prayed and became tired and resolved to seek orthodox medicine advice.
She has even infested her husband with the venereal disease.Â That we do something immoral here is like giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it.
â€œIf they tell you that we beg for alms,Â that is correct because we cannot go stealing.Â We suffered to get this building erected.
There is nowhere we did not go for financial assistance to no avail.Â It was through personal efforts and sacrifices that we are where we are today.
So, if they say we strip naked and all that, I leave them to God to judge.Â The case is before the police and I am sure the truth will prevail.â€
At the SCID Panti, the Officer- in- Charge (OC),Â Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Solomon Arase said the matter was still with his X-Squad Department, â€œI have asked the IPO to do a thorough investigation of the matter. The allegations raised are very sensitive.Â The police will not allow itself to be used to achieve a selfish end.Â But if the allegations come out true, then the law will take its due course.â€