•My husband’s last words – widow
•Lagos Pastors boycott burial
•Traditional ruler rains curses on killers
By Evelyn Usman
“This was not the pact we signed when I agreed to be your wife about a decade ago. It is too painful for me to believe that God allowed this to happen so soon,without a word to your Nedu and daughters who are too tender to tell stories about their daddy ….”
This was the heart rendering lamentation of Mrs Pauline Okpokpo,widow of Pastor Chukwuemeka Okpokpo of the Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Ministries, who was shot dead by gunmen on June 22, 2015 along Oba Kayode Way, in Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State.
Remember him? Okpokpo (50) was the Lagos State Pastor/Coordinator of the Lord’s Chosen. He had gone to withdraw the sum of N3 million from the Apple Junction branch of Diamond Bank, when three armed men on a motorcycle trailed and shot him dead before collecting the withdrawn amount.
Crime Guard gathered that he made frantic efforts to escape when it became obvious that he was the target but slowed down on reaching a bad spot on the road, an action that gave his assailants advantage to catch up with him. First, they shot at the tyres of the church bus he was driving, thereby bringing the vehicle to an abrupt halt. Then, one of the gunmen reportedly alighted from their operational motorbike, walked up to the vehicle and shot Pastor Okpokpo at close rage, riddling his stomach with bullets .
Not satisfied, his killer was said to have waited to ensure that Okpokpo was no longer breathing before he took the nylon bag containing the money, went back to his two colleagues on the motorbike and they zoomed off.
Fear-stricken residents who rushed to the scene raised the alarm on discovering that the victim was wearing the Lord’s Chosen reflective jacket. Okpokpo was thereafter rushed to the church’s clinic at Ijesha,where a prayer session went on for days for his resurrection.
His devastated twin sister, Mrs Augustina Chibueze exhibited a high level of faith even when it was obvious that Okpokpo was stone dead. She was said to have staged another round of prayer section for the resurrection of her twin brother whose corpse was deposited in the morgue.
Perhaps that prayer was not answered, as the remains of Okpokpo was laid to mother earth on August 21, at his home town in Amizi, Umuahia, Ikwuano Local Government Area of Abia State.
My husband’s last words – widow
Seated among other people from different walks of life who came to pay their last honour to the late Chukwuemeka Okpokpo, was his widow and three children. But it was obvious that the widow was lost in deep thought as she cast a blank stare. At a point, Mrs Pauline Okpokpo who was wearing a sun shade, used a handkerchief to dab the tears that flowed down her cheeks. At other times, she would snuggle one of her children close, as if her life depended on her.
The devastated widow recalled that her husband had called her that fateful day from Lagos, informing her that he would be coming over to the village for a visit later that week. He was said to have in his usual manner promised to get her and the children some goodies on arrival. As she giggled during the conversation, little did she realised that was going to be the last time she would hear her husband’s voice. Thus, when news of his demise reached her, she found it difficult to believe, insisting that it was the biggest joke of the century.
On the day of the burial, the widow who was yet to come to terms with the rude reality that her husband’s body would be interred, kept asking familiar faces that came to greet her before the ceremony began whether her husband was actually dead.
Apparently hoping someone would reply in the negative, she began by asking rhetorically, with an inquisitive expression: “Is it true that my husband is dead? You mean he is no more? Who will dance for me and my children? You mean that my Emeka, my heart is gone forever?”
At this point, she held unto one of the visitors and shook her vigorously as if that would bring back her husband. She asked again: “What will become of me, tell me?” As she continued, those who could not control their emotions burst into tears and wailing afresh. It took them some time to console her before she joined others outside.
While outside, she gave a brief remark about her late husband. But before she started, she chuckled and at the same time coughed to clear her hoarse voice. She started with her endearment name for late husband: “Mine, after my discussion with you in the morning of that fateful day, with love and assurance that you were coming within the week, little did I know that was the last time I would talk with you. This is too painful for me to believe that God allowed this to happen too soon.”
Pursing her lips in thoughts, she continued. But this time around, she said authoritatively: “Oh death, you have done your worst. You are a thief that has stolen all that I had; my love, my brother, a husband and mentor. A man of great faith, value and a peacemaker. My God will surely avenge for my him.”
She described her late husband as a compassionate man who would give all he had to satisfy his neighbour at the expense of his own family, with the firm believe that God would provide for them. “He was not never troublesome. He had a knack for social adaptability which helped his ministry. His playfulness and jokes bridged every social gap, barrier or distance which in turn helped one to get his attention.” She paused to heave a sigh. “Hmmm, I have lost a dear friend and none can fill that vacuum.”
His call to ministry
Crime Guard gathered that late Okpokpo’s conversion to the answer of his call as a minister of God was ordained by God. Family members revealed that the deceased once travelled to Italy and Greece but all his endeavours never yielded the desired result. He returned to Nigeria in 2003, to attend one of his cousin’s wedding. But several attempts to return to Europe and Asia, as gathered, never worked. During that period, he decided to yield the call of God and reportedly began as an intercessor at the Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Church.
His friend, with whom he shared a flat in Lagos, Mr Stan, gave insights into how Okpokpo rose to the envious position he held before he was murdered in cold blood.
Visited Okija shrine to destroy its potency
According to Stan who is also a member of the Lord’s Chosen Church, “He became our Intercessor Leader in Ogba branch. Through his leadership, many exploits were achieved through God’s grace. He was among the intercessors group that went to Okija Shrine and the evil forest that was given to Chosen in Ngor Okpala for prayers. From his humble beginning as an Assistant Pastor in 2006, he rose to become the Lagos State Pastor on the General Overseer’s appointment, coordinating Lagos State Pastors of the Lord’s Chosen since three years ago. He was also a deliverance Pastor.”
He touched so many lives – Ubani
Another relative with whom the deceased lived before he travelled outside the country, Mr Tony Ubani, was too pained to speak on the late Okpokpo.
Trying hard not to betray his emotions, Ubani said: “I have struggled with how to remember my brother, Augustine Chukwuemeka a.k.a. Teddy Oscar Uju. Teddy eclipsed his baptismal name Augustine and many did not know that he adopted the name from a radio presenter in IBC who had the knack for playing beautiful music on radio. Teddy was a gem. The shock of his death is still much on me. My charismatic Teddy shines on.
Teddy was the kindest person I have ever seen. He was never spiteful, judgemental or rude. The old always looked forward to his coming home, widows bore testimonies to his kindness, the needy are still crying while the youths are still livid with his death because he was their role model.
This brave and tender man in every storm of life was the rock. He was the friend of all heroic souls. He climbed the heights and left all superstitions far below and brought fresh air to Amizi and Amizi people adored him. If the world was not wicked who would have raised a finger against a chosen man of God?”
Traditional head rains curses on killers
Unable to hide his consternation over the killing of one of his subjects, the traditional ruler, Eze 1 of Amizi autonomous community, Eze Eugene Chimezie Ndimele cursed the killers, saying “It will never be well with all those who have hands in the death of our son, Chukwuemeka Okpokpo. They will never know peace because they have murdered peace and very soon they will be arrested.”
Lagos Pastors absent
However, it was observed that no pastor from Lagos church was present at the burial of their former coordinator. But their colleagues from neighbouring states graced the occasion. A family member who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “We did not see any Pastor from Lagos. It honestly did not speak well of them. Afterall, the deceased worked tirelessly at the headquarters and it was even in the course of his duty for the church that he met his untimely death.”
But investigation by Crime Guard revealed that the Lagos Pastors initially planned to attend the burial but decided otherwise, following a report that Amizi youths were spoiling for an attack on their arrival.
A member of the church in Lagos who confirmed the claim said that they were yet to get over the death of their coordinator and would not want to have any other death on their record.
Further investigation revealed that youths of Amizi as well as the Vigilante group were forewarned to shun any act that would put the community in bad light during the burial, an admonition they reportedly adhered to, following the hitch-free burial ceremony.
Unfortunately, the killers are yet to be found. Although Police sources hinted that investigation was still on, the question on the lips of some of members of the church and concerned Nigerians is whether this would not add to the list of unresolved murder cases in the country.