By Francis Igata
ENUGU—Members of the Adoration Ministry, Enugu Nigeria, AMEN, yesterday, accused the Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Most Rev. Calistus Onaga, of bowing to the pressures from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, over the recent transfer of Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka.
Mbaka is the priest in charge of the Adoration Ministry, which has thousands of followers drawn from various churches but was transfered on January 30,from Christ the King Parish,GRA, where he had been the parish priest for 20 years to Our Lady of Rosary,Emene Enugu.
The fiery priest had while leaving CKP on January 30,described his transfer as,”a calculated attempt meant to make him suffer.”
In a statement signed by Kingsley Eze, Igbo Youth Kaduna; Sunday Ukam,Enugu Adorer; Adedije Wale,Osun State, Adorer; and twenty others, they maintained that the transfer of Mbaka out of Christ the King Parish, GRA, Enugu, fell short of the routine transfer of priests in the diocese.
They alleged that whereas former Bishops in the diocese gave Mbaka all the support needed for the ministry to flourish, Bishop Onaga had allegedly been acting a script aimed at bringing the fiery priest down.
Bishops Eneja, Gbuji, Onaga and Fr. Mbaka
“What Bishop Michael Eneja saw and allowed, Bishop Gbuji protected and watered but Bishop Onaga uprooted in a most barbaric and despondent manner. How? Sometime ago, he gave an impromptu directive that the Ministry should stop the Wednesday all-night Adoration prayer, which Fr Mbaka complied with. The directive would have blown out the fire of the ministry and brought it to a painful end if not for the intervention of the Holy Spirit,” they stated.
“Is Bishop Onaga angry that Fr Mbaka is prophesying? Was it not from the seat of the Bishop he occupies that Fr Mbaka was ordained a priest, a king and prophet? How then can the Church become worried when he begins to prophesy? Does the Church contradict itself?
“We are not happy with the manner the wind of the transfer blew and many of us feel bad about it. Fr Mbaka is holding the brake for some of us and we implore him to keep pressing the brake and hold the steering firmly because all eyes are on him.
“Some of us who are not from Enugu Diocese didn’t believe it that Fr Mbaka was transferred in this manner. The transfer is not our problem but the manner it was done. It struck us like thunder and we have been inundated with calls from our people residing outside the country, UK, Spain, USA ,etc. We are dumbfounded and we can’t help asking- Is this the fight of faith that the diocese is enjoined to fight? Is this how the diocese wants to win souls? While the true lovers of the Catholic Church are thinking of how to protect Fr Mbaka as gift to the Catholic Church, his own diocese just exposed him and left him without shelter.
Bishop Onaga silent
“Most Nigerians know that the uncommon silence of Bishop Onaga over Fr Mbaka’s prophesy of the defeat of the Goodluck Jonathan’s PDP-led government by President Muhammadu Buhari was not really for nothing.
“Barely few weeks before the posting, the voice of a faction of the Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, a socio-cultural group that fell out with the party was heard barking at Fr Mbaka to ‘shut up’ over his prophesies. And now comes the posting done in such a manner as to really shut Fr Mbaka up. A source close to Bishop Onaga disclosed to us that the Bishop said he transferred Fr Mbaka out of pressure from Ohanaeze and PDP. The posting is not Holy Ghost oriented but PDPnized and Ohanaezenized, and any cleric be him Pastor, Bishop or Cardinal that supported this is enemy of the Holy Spirit.
“How can the Bishop just wake up and tell Fr Mbaka to pack into a parish that cannot comfortably contain two priests as a third priest? Is he meant to punish him? Is that the way the Catholic Church in the diocese is meant to reward and encourage him for the glory and honour he had brought to the Catholic Church in this part of the divide and for his unalloyed humility and total obedience to the Church? Is that the way the Church is meant to reward him for taking care of the flock of the Catholic Church both within and outside the dioceses?”, the statement read.
They equally warned the Secretary, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Raph Madu to stay out of Mbaka’s ministry, “otherwise, we shall expose his questionable life as a priest to public glare.
Living in a glass house and throwing stone
“He should learn the wisdom in the adage that he who lives in a glass house should not throw stones. He lacks the moral rectitude as a priest to talk to Fr Mbaka and we are ready to confront him with those facts if he doesn’t mind his language.
“We are ready and determined to carry out a religious revolution in Nigeria if the stage-managed defamation and character assassination sponsored by enemies of the Holy Spirit in the garb of clerics against Fr Mbaka persists. We have been silent because Fr Mbaka has been calming us down to protect the image of the Church in Enugu Diocese , but this time, we cannot continue to hold our peace for we believe that respect is reciprocal.”
Catholic secretariat reaction
A reaction through the Secretary-General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria,Abuja, Reverend Father Ralph Madu, said the posting was not meant to be punitive but a “normal church procedure.”
According to him, “Mbaka’s transfer is not an exception; the Bishop has the right to post any priest wherever he feels his service would be more useful to the church.
“If he (Mbaka) says it’s a punishment, then it’s open to further investigation. Posting is a regular thing, a priest can be transferred after two, three, four, or more years. It depends on the discretion of the Bishop.
“That ministry (Adoration Ministry) is his private ministry. It does not belong to the church. Overseeing a parish is a full time job. Overseeing a ministry is a bigger task. If the church decides to take him somewhere where he’ll have more time to carry out his ministry, how is it punitive? That should not be the language.”
Madu said Fr. Mbaka had done things that were unacceptable to the church in the past but received no punishments for them.
He said: “He is supposed to be a missionary. What if the Bishop had closed down the ministry , which is within his power to do? Sometimes, transfers can be for the good of the priest as something can be going wrong which he might not be aware of. The Bishop is free to move any priest at any time. It is his prerogative.”