Magnus Eze, Enugu, Obinna Odogwu, Awka, Aloysius Attah, Onitsha and Eziomume Solomon, Nnewi
Rev. Father Chibuzo Emmanuel Obimma, parish priest of Blessed Iwene Tansi Catholic Church, Umudioka in Dunukofia Local Government Area of Anambra State, is arguably the most popular cleric in Anambra State at the moment. Popularly known as Ebube Muonso, the priest is also the Spiritual Director of Holy Ghost Adoration Ministry, Uke in Idemili North Local Government Area of the state. The adoration centre hosts thousands of worshipers on each day of worship.
Depending on their respective areas of interest, worshipers from all walks of life, including politicians, traders, civil servants, artisans and others throng the expansive prayer ground in search of miracles, economic breakthroughs and more.
And given the massive number of people who storm the place every now and then, Uke, which ordinarily is a quiet community, enjoys no calm atmosphere.
Born August 18, 1980 to the family of now late Mr Bartholomew Obiechina Obimma and Mrs Grace Obimma (Ochiora), from Uruebo village, Nkwelle-Ezunaka in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State, Rev. Father Obimma is the last son of seven children of his parents, all boys – Andrew, Charles, Victor, Anthony, Bartholomew Jnr, Vincent and Emmanuel. He attended the Ezunaka Primary School, Nkwelle Ezunaka before proceeding to St. Paul’s Seminary, Ukpor in Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra State, where he did his JSS1 – JSS3; then, headed to All Hallows Seminary, Onitsha, where he did SS1-SS3. He later went to Pope John Paul Major Seminary, Awka, and the Blessed Iwene Tansi Major Seminary, Onitsha; before he was ordained priest on August 6, 2011. He was ordained a priest nine years ago alongside nine others for the Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha. A second batch of eight other priests was ordained on August 13, 2011.
The priest’s father, Bartholomew Obimma, was among the adult mass servers/altar knights in their old age at Nkwele parish. His elder brothers, Tony, Victor and Bartholomew Jnr, were all in the seminary, but none of them succeeded in becoming a priest as they pulled out after a while. The small Chibuzor entered and like the proverbial rejected stone that became the chief corner stone, he was not only ordained, but he became an exceptional charismatic priest.
His parents formerly resided in the northern part of the country before relocating to the East. While the mother sold weaved clothes at Williams Street, Onitsha, the father was a tailor.
He wasn’t ordinary says mum
His mother told Sunday Sun that Ebube Muonso was an exceptional child born unprepared, the type the Igbo call ‘Atuanya or Eyiuche’ as they had decided not to have more children then. She also disclosed that they never thought in their wildest imagination that Chibuzor could make it to the priesthood as he was very stubborn while growing up, though with many positive sides.
She said: “The day he was delivered, I was very fit. I just felt like eating bitter leaf soup that day and had gone to pluck the leaves when I noticed labour pains. After cooking, I trekked to the maternity nearby and like somebody about urinating, he was delivered without much labour pain, prolonged labour or complications of any sort. He started squatting before clocking three months and by eight months he was already walking. I called my mother then to come and look at this strange boy and we kept wondering the kind of person he was going to be.
“He was so stubborn in his childhood days that we never thought he would make it to the priesthood. Always passionate about football, but still despite his stubborn nature, he always feels the plight of others. Give him food or anything personal and he would share it with others to the point of denying himself. He stands for justice and would always say his mind and the truth in any situation no matter whose ox is gored.
“All I kept saying then was – this stubborn boy what is he going there to do? All the humble children of mine couldn’t make it so how can this one succeed? The Monsignor who was in charge of our parish then at St Williams Nkwele also expressed surprise. He would ask whether it’s true that Chibuzor had entered seminary. That time he wasn’t coming close to the altar when he attended church and I would reprimand him for staying far.
“But he would fire back at me telling me to leave him alone. He told me from day one to go and mark it that I would later see him moving in convoy with siren whether he was eventually ordained or not. I always dismissed him with a wave of the hand. Most times, it was tug of war between me and him when he wanted to go back to school. Sometimes I chased him around for him to go back.
“I began to take him seriously after his one year apostolic work in the riverine area when he came home with a truck load of food items and other gifts given to him by the people of the area because of the impact they said he made in their lives while his stay lasted there.”
Escapades in seminary
Based on Fr Obimma’s life trajectory, he was given several nicknames. For his football prowess, friends hailed him as Acada, the footballer. For his “rugged” and “big-boy” lifestyle in the seminary, he was hailed as Kabaka Zongo. He was almost expelled from the seminary, but was given a second chance by the Archbishop. However, immediately he encountered the Holy Spirit like St Paul, he threw away all those titles and everyone started calling him Ebube Muonso. Till date, not many people remember his full names, but people rather call him Ebube Muonso (Glory of the Holy Ghost).
Asked whether he was troublesome while in the seminary that warranted all those nicknames, a fellow priest who was ordained in the same year with him, but pleaded anonymity, noted that Ebube Muonso was ‘troublesome’ in the positive sense of it. He described him as a nonconformist who did not want to fit in into the regular regimented lifestyle of an aspiring priest known as seminary life.
He noted that Fr Obimma was more ‘troublesome’ while in the younger formative years at All Hallows Seminary which was more of a secondary school and the early years of his philosophy studies at Pope John Paul Seminary, Okpuno, Awka.
“It is natural for seminarians to be more carefree when they were in the early stages of their vocation, but once you get to Theology without expulsion, it also becomes natural that such person needs to adjust because the consciousness of becoming a priest in few years is already there.
“If you count those who were the “hard men” in Philosophy and All Hallows, Fr Obimma was among. That youthful exuberance like those who entered university newly was a normal thing then, but once you spend more years, it’s natural to adjust. Most of his friends then were expelled from the seminary. In fact, some of his friends then who were sacked from the seminary now come to him for assistance. He has employed some of them in his numerous firms while some he gave financial assistance or facilitated other contacts for them.
“He was sent on probation and that was how he lost one year. He joined us after one year probation after first year Theology. Probation is a kind of evaluation. During our yearly reunion, Bishop would read out the report about you either from the school or where you went for apostolic work. Based on the report, it’s either he promotes you to the next class, expels you or sends you on probation so that you can be re-evaluated again. In this situation, some can decide to leave on their own if they were told to go on probation. In Fr Obimma’s case, I think he was sent to the Spiritual Year Seminary at Akwu-Ukwu and he was there for one year. That was how he lost one year and later re-joined the next class.”
Inclination to ministry
Those who knew Fr Ebube Muonso prior to his ordination also said that his quick move towards engaging in charismatic preaching and public ministration did not come as a surprise.
“Normally after Deaconate ordination which takes place few months before the priestly ordination, we are assigned to preach during house and weekday masses inside the seminary. We did it turn by turn then and whenever it was his own turn, you would know that he would eventually become a ‘warrior’ priest after ordination.
“The number of Bible quotations he reeled out during his own and his body mechanism said it all then. Even in the course we did then known as Homelectics, which dwells on topics and methods of preaching homilies in line with liturgy, the lecturer usually assigned us with different topics to preach on. In Ebube Muonso’s own turn, part of the remarks by the lecturer after his presentation was always that he quotes too many Bible passages outside the assigned areas. By then, he had started carrying big Bibles having ‘graduated’ from carrying the small ones and from him we learnt how to use Bible commentaries.”
From the moment he was ordained, there has been no dull moment as he moved at such a supersonic speed leaving no one in doubt that he was just about to ‘explode’ for the whole world. Starting as a parish vicar at St Charles Borromeo parish, Onitsha after some few months of relief duty at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, Uke, it did not augur so well with him and the priest in charge of the parish then at St Charles Borromeo. The parish priest then did not accept Ebube Muonso’s attraction to the ministry and they almost had a cold war. Sometimes he would be forced to sleep inside his car till daybreak having been locked outside for coming back late from ministering to people.
That was what prompted the attraction to go back to Uke and establish his ministry. Within the few months he spent there on relief duty, he had already started manifesting signs and wonders and people started trooping to see him there. In a jiffy, he started pulling crowd while several testimonies from the efficacy of his prayers started pouring in too.
Today, the adoration ground is the largest in Onitsha Archdiocese while more expansion and construction works continue in the area. Hundreds of priests and the religious also attend his adoration ministries where they volunteer in sharing the Holy Communion and other services. Anglican priests who are fascinated by his spiritual gifts also attend the adoration nights.
In a space of seven years, he has also travelled to several parts of the world, including America, China and Europe on evangelical invitations. One thing that also worked and has been working for him is that he is very obedient and has always remained close to the Archbishop. Those who incur the wrath of their bishops do not always go far in their ministry.
Built fastest church and structures
In Umudioka community, there existed a small portion of land, which served as an outstation of St Anthony Catholic Church. Being the hometown of the Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha, Most Rev. Valerian Okeke, the Archbishop in his passion for education and moulding young ones established a small primary school in the outstation to take care of the young ones within that vicinity, but the place moved at a very slow pace. Perhaps, by divine inspiration, the Archbishop, during the pastoral posting of the year 2014/2015, elevated the place to a full stand alone parish and sent Fr Obimma there as the pioneer Parish Priest and also his first posting as a parish priest after serving three years as a Parochial Vicar.
Ebube Muonso practically went to a ‘desert’ land and turned it to a honey well. Named Blessed Iwene Tansi Parish, Umudioka, he brought his ‘magic wand’ to bear in the new place that in a space of three years, the parish became another Mecca and turned foreign resort.
He turned around the small school into an ultra-modern nursery and primary school with high rising structures fully furnished and named St Valerian School. While other churches raised to parish status within the same period were still struggling to find their feet, Ebube Muonso built a mighty Marian Grotto, gigantic Chapel of Eucharistic Adoration, state-of-the-art Parish Rectory accommodating other priests in-residence and a magnificent Church, all within three years.
Presently, the parish has been elevated to the status of a pilgrimage centre for Blessed Tansi by the Archbishop while the attendees who stretch across different parts of Anambra State and beyond have also turned the small community into an urban area.
Mecca for politicians
With an ever-growing influence, the Uke adoration ground is a Mecca of sort for Anambra politicians. Those who seek political office throng the place for prayers and ‘endorsements,’ which they believe work mightily considering the millions of people that attend the adoration prayers.
Towards the end of Mr Peter Obi’s tenure in 2013 and the election that brought Willie Obiano into office, to the general elections of 2015, Obiano’s second term election in 2017 and the general election of 2019, the trend has been the same. From Ifeanyi Ubah to Dr Chris Ngige, Uche Ekwunife to Stella Oduah, Osita Chidoka to Ifeanyi Ibezi, the list has been endless. During the re-election campaign of Obiano, the governor personally attended several vigils at Uke where he, his wife and other aides were prayed for. At a stage, Ebube Muonso prophesied that despite plans by some contestants to hijack the election, he saw Obiano emerge victorious and it later came to reality.
As the next governorship elections get underway in Anambra, aspirants are already lining up to get the priest’s blessings. Just last week, one of them, Dr Chidozie Nwankwo visited the adoration ground and he was also prayed for. Some said that those seeking elective positions in Anambra who ignore Ebube Muonso do so at their own peril.
Also, closing ceremonies of the special prayer marches at the adoration ground had attracted several personalities like for Super Eagles Captian, Kanu Nwankwo, Chimamanda Adichie, gospel artistes, among others.
Unusual pilgrims too
When Chinese travel, it is usually for business. But in August 2018, a contingent of 18 Chinese, for the first time, left their country on pilgrimage to the Holy Ghost Adoration Ministry, Uke. The Chinese Christian converts from Guangzhou were in the state for a week to learn the rudiments of evangelism under the Catholic Church doctrine. Comprised three Catholic priests, two reverend sisters and other Christians, they were accompanied by seven Nigerians resident in China, who brought the message of repentance to them.
Sunday Sun learnt that about 1.3billion Chinese are not Christians. Leader of the Chinese delegation, Mary Lu, who is Coordinator of the Chinese Charismatic Group, Yide, road, Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, Guangzhou, China, recounted how they encountered Jesus Christ in Guangzhou City through the Spiritual Director of Holy Ghost Adoration Ministry, Ebube Muonso.
She claimed that God healed one of their sick brothers of a terminal disease after prayers from the Nigerian priest. Though, they accepted Jesus Christ in 2016, two years before meeting the Nigerian priest, Lu said that their encounter with Fr. Obimma became the turning point in their Christian life.
Ebube Muonso, while receiving the pilgrims, had said that he got the revelation many years ago that the ministry would become an attraction internationally for pilgrims as God has chosen it as a healing ground.
He narrated: “That day, I was in China for a crusade. The coordinator of the crusade, one Emeka, told me to wait behind and pray for the man, who was diagnosed of cancer. He said his liver and kidney were damaged, that he had only one day to live.
“When we got to the man’s house, I saw only a skeleton. I didn’t know what to say. I told God to wreak a miracle that would convert the entire Chinese country. I brought out my stole and lay on the man and started singing praises. After that I blessed the man and anointed him.
“The next day, Emeka, who took me to the sick man’s house, called me and said that China was in great jubilation. He informed me that the man was healed and that he was removed from the life-supporting machine. He also reported that the man who could not pass urine went to the toilet and passed urine unaided and also ate food. The doctors were amazed.”
Leader of the priests from China, Rev Fr Joseph Guo from Quiaoxi, Guangzhou Shanxi province China, who claimed to have taken Fr Obimma to the hospital where he prayed for patients, thanked the ministry’s founder, his congregation and Nigerian Christians for bringing evangelism in a special way to China.
Miracles and war with deities
So many stories have been told of hundreds of miracles associated with Ebube Muonso’s ministry, ranging from healing to breakthroughs and favours, deliverance, intervention, uplift, victory, riches, curse breaking, among many others.
The priest, who shared some of the outstanding miracles with our reporter, said that a certain couple, Mr and Mrs Emenike, had their 20 years of bareness wiped out with a bouncing baby boy through the intervention of God of the Holy Ghost Adoration Ministry.
According to him, “the couple got married in 1996, and in all those years, no sign of pregnancy took place, and the couple started moving from one prayer house to another.
“They visited spiritualists and hospitals for solutions; they drank every medication that would boost their fertility and conception chances, yet, nothing happened. Along the line, people, both relatives and friends, advised the man to get another wife, since his wife could not give him a child. But the man, being the type that loves God so much, and who also believes in God’s promise in the scripture: ‘There shall be no barren among my people,’ he held on to that promise. Then, later, in 2015, the couple was introduced to the Holy Ghost Adoration Ministry. They came with faith, and months later, in 2016, God made them parents of a son for the first time after 20 years of marriage.”
He also talked about another couple, Mr and Mrs Ikechukwu Ukpai, whom the Holy Ghost lifted their eight years of bareness with beautiful set of twins.
There was also one Mrs Franca Obi, whose son left for India for 11 years without communicating home. It was told that anytime he tried coming home, one problem or another would crop up. “So, during the 2017, 33 days prayer march, the mother brought her son’s picture. I prayed and told her that her son would come back. With that assurance, she sowed a seed of faith to that effect. That same month, the young man returned home.”
Beyond praying for miracles, the charismatic priest also carries out spiritual cleansing on communities and households; destroying the powers of deities while enthroning the worship of God.
According to him, his ministry has waged war against idolatry by uprooting many idols believed to have kept many people, especially the youths in bondage.
He said that shrines troubling some communities, including Omaliko, Ami-Agba, Iyi Oji Nkwelle, Udo Ekwulobia and Alusi Ikenga, among others, have been successfully uprooted.
In all these, Ebube Muonso has always attributed such success stories to God Almighty and not his own power.
Close shave with death
Fr Obimma has had his fair share of challenges at the early years of his ministry. At the early hours of February 20, 2014, bandits suspected to be assassins rained bullets on him while on his way to the weekly adoration at Uke from his Borromeo parish where he was the parochial vicar then. This happened barely after three months of the stampede that led to the death of some worshipers at the adoration centre on the early morning of November 2, 2013 after the November 1, All Saints’ programme.
Story had it that the priest left his then residence at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Parish, Odume Layout, Obosi, for the Uke adoration centre and a group of boys was at the Peoples’ Club Bus Stop, along Limca Road, Nkpor, near Onitsha standing aloof and making calls. They later trailed him and as he passed through Nkpor Junction, down to Ideani Junction where he was supposed to branch off to his Uke adoration centre, he sighted another group of men wearing police uniform.
He slowed down his car and beckoned on one of them to inform him that some bad elements were trailing him, so that they would go after them, believing that the uniformed men he was talking to were genuine policemen. Suddenly, other gang members who were hiding inside the bush trooped out from their hideout and opened fire on him at a close range.
They rained bullets on him with their sophisticated arms, but he sped off and escaped from their sight, without being harmed. After the staccato of gunfire settled, Ebube Muonso’s vehicle was riddled with bullets, but miraculously, none penetrated as they melted like ice block on his body.
The stampede of 2013
One of the saddest moments in the life of the Holy Ghost Adoration Ministry, and, of course, in the life of Fr. Obimma, was a stampede that occurred on Saturday, November 1, 2013. It was caused by a commotion that erupted among the congregation that attended the weekly crusade at the adoration ministry, resulting in the loss of many lives.
That day’s crusade, which coincided with the Feast of All Saints and was also on the first Saturday of the month had about 100, 000 worshippers in attendance. No fewer than 25 worshippers lost their lives, while several others who sustained various degrees of injuries, were treated in various hospitals.
Ebube Muonso said of the calamity: “I will not say there have not been challenges; but those challenges have been the stepping stones and platforms to my announcement. But a single challenge I will never forget is the stampede at the adoration ground. I never experienced such thing before. Imagine members of my congregation dying before me. That day, I was helpless; I prayed until all the strength in me vanished; so that I couldn’t get the strength to pray anymore. It was very devastating”.
Charity is his second name
Ebube Muonso is a giver anytime any day. As he receives so he gives out to the needy, the sick and the vulnerable. Many students are also on his scholarship while he maintains regular payment of hospital bills for patients. Insiders say he spends a minimum of N30 million yearly on humanitarian gestures while he increases the tempo as the years roll by. Not quite long, he splashed car gifts on eight of his dedicated workers and volunteers while he also promised to replicate such gestures from time to time. He has also distributed various palliatives in cash and food items both at the Uke adoration centre and his parish at Umudioka, especially during this COVID-19 era.
Chains of investments
The priest has business acumen and an excellent spirit that whatever he touches turns to gold. Apart from the various objects of prayers like calendars, stickers, anointing oil, and super candles which he produces in a very unique manner different from others, that are always in high demand, his table water known as Paraclete sells like nothing else matters.
Due to high demand, workers at the factory run shifts and hardly rest as they produce both bottled and sachet packages. The bulk of his adoration members believe that the Paraclete water possesses some healing powers different from other table water in circulation and there have been many testimonies to this effect. His Paraclete press, a thriving printing press with state-of-the-art facilities also produces the highly sought after –Divine Touch devotionals, a monthly publication that contains daily prayers, nuggets of faith and Bible readings. They also publish The Dove Newsletter, which serves as the ministry’s newspaper arm.
The school aspect – Divine Rays British School – remains another fastest built institution in Anambra State that has not only created jobs for many, but also absorbed an increasing number of young people desiring quality and affordable education.
Manager and Principal of the school, Mrs Ezeibeanu Stephanie Ozioma, told Sunday Sun that the school alone engages about 200 staff while her counterpart of Paraclette Table Water, Mr Udogwu Christopher, said the company has more than 150 employees.
But Fr. Obimma said the totality of his investments absorbs over 1,000 workers, including those in his ministry. He said the employment opportunities were some of the ways he preaches the word of God to the poor, as well as his contribution to humanity.
Ebube Muonso’s driving force
Fr. Obimma told Sunday Sun that he took to priesthood as vocation because of the passion he had for the salvation of souls. According to him, “I have great passion for the salvation of souls; I want to live for Christ. I want to live a life of sacrifice; that was why even during my primary school days, I could spend my last money to help indigent persons.”
On the adoration ministry, he said: “When I was in the seminary, I never knew I would have a ministry as big as it is today. In fact, I never had the intention of going into ministry. However, before my ordination, I had an encounter with the Holy Spirit. From then, I became very passionate about the Holy Spirit.
“Then, after my priestly ordination on August 6, 2011, my closeness with the Holy Spirit ignited strong fire in me; so that I became hungry to do the work that Christ did; casting out demons and undertaking the mandates of the apostles. So, my passion and love for the Holy Spirit and Christ led me into the ministry; which is today, known as the Holy Ghost Adoration Ministry, Uke. It is a global ministry. When we started newly, I never knew it would grow as big as this; where the Holy Spirit will be performing unprecedented and shocking miracles. The ministry has continued to grow, and people coming from far and near to seek the face of God; and also believing God for their miracles. Through the preaching of God’s word in this ministry, lives are transformed daily, hope given to the poor, the sick healed and souls won into the kingdom of God.”
He explained how he came about the name “Ebube Muonso.” He said: “The issue is that I did not nickname myself, it was people that started calling me Fr. Ebube Muonso, when I was newly ordained a priest, when I started healing ministry; people started calling me Ebube Muonso. I never nicknamed myself Ebube Muonso.”
What people say
Mrs Ezeibeanu Stephanie Ozioma, manager and principal of Divine Rays British School said: “If there is anyone to describe Fr. Obimma well, I should be the one. I started with Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Obimma as his first personal secretary. I’ve worked with him for seven years now.
“Fr. Obimma is a man of the spirit. I think God created him to come into the world to bring the message of hope to the hopeless. He is someone that stands in the truth always; he believes in things of God and the things of heaven. He believes God works miracles.”
For Williams Udeagbala, a member of the Blessed Iwene Tansi Parish, Umudioka; the priest is a workaholic: “I wonder whether Fr. Ebube Muonso has time for himself. Twenty four hours of the day, he moves from place to place, attending to people with diverse needs. He is a winner of souls”.
Also, Chief Ike Nnalue, former President-General of Nkwelle-Ezunaka Union in Oyi, home town of Fr. Obimma, he is a good servant of God, who loves God and humanity.
“He is a peacemaker; whenever there is any discord in our community, he mediates and restores peace. He is a very charitable man, because, he has been awarding scholarships to our people, and also assisting many going into businesses and priestly vocation. He does a lot of good things without letting people know.”
The Archbishop, Most Rev. Valerian Okeke, also described Fr. Ebube Monso as a servant of God, who works diligently in the Lord’s vineyard
“I love all the priests in my archdiocese. By the grace of God, they all live according to the vow they made before God on the day of their ordinations. But there are a number of them, who work as if the affairs of the archdiocese are their fathers’ business; Fr. Obimma is one of them,” the prelate stated.