By Sam Eyoboka
THE rift between the founder of the Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Ministries, Pastor Lazarus
Muoka and a former member of the church, now founder of Christ Chosen Generation Revival Ministry, Eze Nnamdi Ofoegbu over the alleged investment of some N370 million in the church, may have been resolved.
Briefing newsmen recently in Lagos one of the parties to the dispute, Pastor Eze Nnamdi Ofoegbu, who recently officially dedicated his ministry, said the dispute has been resolved but did not say whether the appeal he filed against an earlier judgment had been withdrawn.
The legal battle between the General Overseer of the Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Movement, Pastor Mouka and his church and two prominent former members of the church, Pastor Emmanuel Njuwa and a traditional ruler, Eze Nnamdi Ofoegbu, shifted to the Court of Appeal, with the defendants asking the appellate court to set aside the restraining order of the lower court.
The parties have been in court since last year over an alleged financial ‘investment’ for the growth of the church within and outside Lagos. In the suit by the church before a Lagos high court, the plaintiffs, the Lord’s Chosen and Pastor Muoka, claimed that Ofoegbu joined the church as a pauper and that the church on different occasions gave him money to help cushion the effects of his financial hardship, Ofoegbu averred he had invested N370 million in the church.
In a recent interview, however, Ofoegbu said there is no love lost between him and Pastor Muoka, because “we have reconciled and made peace. There was no compensation as I demanded but what we had was peace.” Asked if they have totally forgiven each other, arguably, the first traditional ruler to be ordained a pastor said: “I have forgiven him and he has forgiven me. He is my spiritual father and I have the utmost respect for him to have led me to Christ.”
What is a traditional ruler doing on the pulpit, we asked the paramount ruler of Umudiawa Kingdom in Umuahia, Abia State who quickly said: “Well, if you look at the history of kingship, you would find that God has always been involved right from the days of the Israelites. If He wants to change a community, He goes after the king. So, that was what happened in my own case too. I know that in Africa, people believe all kings are idol worshippers and to an extent that can be true. Some of theings we do here in Africa can be humiliating although some of them are just cultural. I believe God made me a king to make a change and that is what I have been doing. I became a king about nine years ago and became a born again Christian in 2003.
How did you really find yourself on the pulpit? “You know there is something they call bloodline. My father repented after the Nigerian Civil War and remained true to God. I have also had the things of God in mind all along. I have always sponsored churches and ministries as a businessman. The decision to become a true Christian started when I started having challenges as a king in my community. The challenges were so enormous that I knew I needed God and that was what drew me to God. And as soon as I made that decision, I made it known to my community. There were so many outcries because they said I was going to discard our customs and tradition. Before I became the king, I was the prime minister—the custodian of the customs—for 10 years. So, you can imagine the shock when I accepted Christ. People who have lived and prospered through the customs were threatened. The decision was going to affect their livelihood and everything and that was natural. But I was determined and had to put my feet on the ground on some things that were bad. This is despite the fact that 90 per cent of my cabinet members are native doctors. But by the grace of God, I changed many things.
Are you saying there are no more occultic practices in your community?
Yes! I have ensured that anything that does not glorify God is not done. But you know some people will still do it secretly in their corners. But they all know what I stand for and that I cannot condone anything fetish. The truth is, not everybody can be a Christian and we are praying that they see the light.
What price have you paid to bring about these changes?
You see, God revealed to me the numerous challenges I was going to face and everything has come to pass. It has cost me a lot. My family has abandoned me for being a new man. They were shocked I became a Christian, wondering how I would take care of them. There have been attempts on my life by assassins, but I know when you are in Christ, nobody can take away your life without approval from God. So, I am not bothered. I am not afraid. I just want to be sure I am in Godâ€™s will.
As a traditional ruler, you have the licence to marry as many wives as possible. What is the situation with you?
I have only one wife but when I was in the world, I had a child from another woman.
How does it feel to be a traditional ruler and a pastor?
I feel great because God has given me the opportunity to serve Him. I believe I am in the best work on earth and I will not look back for any reason.
You recently had the inaugural service of the church. What is the focus of your church?
You will agree with me that there are many churches out there, but God told me to emphasise salvation as against prosperity. If a man is saved, God would prosper him. So, salvation is the ultimate and that is what we focus on in the church. No matter how big a man is if he lacks salvation, he is in danger.
Where were you ordained as a pastor?
In my former church, the Lordâ€™s Chosen Charismatic Church where I also became born again.
Will you one day invite Pastor Muoka to preach in your church?
He is a father and has a big, big church. I feel to invite him to a small church is like asking a king to come down to your territory. Besides, I believe he has so much on his hands to do. But it would be a dream come true to have him in our church.
How are you going to cope with being a traditional ruler and a preacher?
The only business I have now is doing the business of God. It is to draw people out of darkness to His marvelous light.
What if they demand for your attention on a Sunday back home? Would you abandon the church to be there?
The way my kingdom is structured, I donâ€™t have to be there always. We have the Council of Chiefs, which deliberates on issues; the Council of Elders, which resolves whatever the chiefs cannot resolve. It is when these cannot resolve an issue that the cabinet steps in.
What is your advice to government?
I can only advise them to fear God and remember there is a judgment day. That is all I can tell them.