- The weird proclamations and actions of some Christian clerics
Clerics are perceived holy. They are believed to wield miraculous powers to exorcise demons and witchcrafts, heal all kinds of illnesses and possess the innate ability to unlock floodgates of heavenly blessings on anyone they pray for, or lay hands on. Their utterances on the pulpit are adhered to, and taken to be a message from the Supreme Being. Hence, ardent religious followers see their church leaders as acolytes, intercessors and intermediaries to the Almighty God. And these men of God are revered as epitomes of piety, purity and morality.
However, in what seems like a proof that men and women of God are fallible, many have been involved in scandals of all sorts. From those involved in murder, rape, promiscuity, homosexuality, polygamy there are growing indications that some of them have veered off to the weird world of make-belief and voodoo and magic.
Countless sacrilegious incidents and bizarre lifestyles of these men of God have been, and are being reported on various media. One of the many widely reported stories is that of Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeugo a.k.a Rev. King, the general overseer of the Christ Praying Assembly (CPA). He has been convicted for murder, and is currently waiting on death row for about 11 years.
Rev. King, from the very moment he stepped into the scene in 2000, sparked controversy. When many pastors at that time wore exotic hairdos, Rev King preferred looking all a bit strange with his clean-shaven head and long beard. His looks drew a lot of attention and in a very short while, his church situated at 1, CPA Base, off Bishop Ojo Drive, by Ugo Nnabuife Street, Ajao Estate axis of Lagos metropolis started bustling with members.
But in no time, tales of his crude ways became public. First reports emanated of how he brutalized his followers, flogging them like school children for doing as little as going out to take a leak during service. Afterwards, there were messy tales, of women whose husbands came raging, claiming that he (Rev King) has been having illicit sex with their wives in the name of deliverance. And how the cleric- who members have ascribed as ‘His Holiness’, move with stern looking bouncers that pounce on and pummel anyone at his command.
In one of his quoted statements, Rev. King justified the wanton and merciless flogging of his members. “I am a preacher. I know that the spirit of witchcraft is against the Almighty God. If somebody is a liar, he is bewitching God. I don’t condone lie. Dr. King does not condone sin. I flog a lot. I have canes. If husband and wife mess up by having misunderstanding, I have to settle them. But the person that is at fault, I must flog. If the person refuses to be flogged, I will send him out of the church.”
The disturbing tales kept piling until 2006 when Rev King was arrested and prosecuted for killing a member of his church called Ann Uzoh. He set her on fire alongside six other members of his church; accusing them of fornication, a crime for which he sentenced them to death.
Years after these worrying incidents, his church has continued to wax strong with his followers believing that like Jesus Christ, their spiritual leader is being persecuted, and a great miracle to save him from the hangman’s noose is still likely.
But, although the Rev. King saga stands out among many in the realm of bizarreness, the reality is that strange and hilarious beliefs and practices are being propagated by these ‘Men of God’ in many churches, sects and cults in Nigeria. From human deification, stage-managed miracles and killing in the name of their supreme being, it seems nothing is off limits when it comes to meeting religious requirements.
Another cleric that also acclaimed himself as ‘King’ is the leader of Kingdom of Heaven on Earth Mission (KIHEM) a bustling church in Akowonjo-Egbeda road in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State. The church leader, popularly called King Olutanmole of the Universe, is almost worshipped as a deity by members. The man said to be in his 60s is always regal and resplendent in appearance, and sits on a throne whenever he is to conduct the Sunday service. According to the members, they have since jettisoned the 10 biblical commandments generally believed by many churches, to embrace the seven commandments reeled out by the leader. And the seven commandments are: Be Obedient, Worship God at all Times, Be Faithful in your Deeds, Be Obedient to God the Father, Be Obedient to God the Son, Be Obedient to the Holy Spirit, and Be Obedient to Olutanmole.
Again, another issue that is shrouded in mystery is the number of wives and children Olutanmole has. Some claim that King Olutanmole is married to almost 100 women, and has numerous children, but another source countered that he has only one wife who has seven children for him. It was gathered that Olutanmole also made it a rule that anybody getting married to any of his daughters must quit secular work and join his ministry.
Members are also required to pay obeisance to King Olutanmole like other earthly royals. While greeting him, you must not stand but prostrate or roll on the ground before him, while he also reportedly has the right to change name of members to whatever pleases or suits him.
Many pastors have also been caught and reported for performing fake miracles. Like somewhere in Igando area, also in Lagos state, a pastor was alleged to be defrauding members with the promise that he would make them fruitful enough to conceive and bear children if they bring lots of money. The ‘pastor’ swindled many of his followers of millions of naira, until the bubble burst on him in the commune.
Religion, sages is the opium of the masses. Hence rogues, charlatans, maniacs and even paedophiles use the guise of being pastor, and pretence of religiosity to exploit their naïve flock.
Otherwise, how else does one explain a situation in which a man of God would mutilate various parts of the body of a little boy in the name of deliverance from wizardry?
That is exactly what Andrew Mathew, a 16-year old, who dropped out of primary school, went through. He got deep cuts allegedly inflicted on him at the prayer house of Danladi Boyi, located at the Abattoir area of Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State.
Boyi, as Sunday Sun learnt, claimed to be a specialist in casting out demons from little children.
Andrew, who was brought to the church by his parents, was given thorough beating and subjected to rigorous exercise beyond his strength. He was starved and beaten so terribly, all in the bid to make him confess to being a witch and responsible for the deaths of some people in the family. And within the two-week period that Andrew was in the custody of the ‘prayer warrior’ he sustained deep cuts and injuries all over his body as a result of the torture he passed through in the ‘deliverance’ process.
When he spoke with Sunday Sun, Andrew narrated how he came to such a terrible pass: “I am not a witch. It was my parents that accused me of being a witch. It is true that I could be stubborn but certainly I was not engaged in witchcraft practice.
“I have gone through horrible and terrible experience. I was maltreated by my parents at home before I was taken to the man they said could cast out demons. I was subjected to two weeks of sustained whipping which tore my skin in several places.” He was starved of food for several days and subjected to harsh treatment, day and night, as part of the strategy to deliver him from witchcraft.
In some churches, their men of God introduce their twisted beliefs as doctrines that are sheepishly swallowed hook, line, and sinker by the adherers. One instance is that of Rev. Rowland Olajide Macaulay, who was reported to be neck deep into homosexuality, and has a gay church for established gays and initiates. The church called House of Rainbow, probably because the colours of the rainbow is same as that of the LGBTIQ movement, was reportedly located at Yakoyo Street, Ojodu Berger, Lagos, but was later closed down after a public uproar which culminated in death threats, and manhandling of his members.
Rev. Macaulay, who was married to a woman in 1991 and got a divorce in 1994, came out to declare his same sex preference, saying he established his gay church to be a voice of the younger generation of citizens, activists and their collective beliefs. “Religion,” he observed, is a backbone to life in Nigeria, so, we all want to go to church. But we don’t want to lie to God about who we are.”
Homosexuality is a topic that sparks heavy controversy in Nigeria. Majority of the population are vociferously against it, while acts of homosexuality will offer you a 14-year jail sentence in accordance with Nigerian law.
But the man behind the House of Rainbow movement sees himself as an advocate. And in 2016, he marked the 10th year anniversary of his church in faraway London, away from the grasp of Nigeria’s anti-homosexuality law.
His church has conducted up to 10 gay marriages. And Rev Macaulay has even come up to make controversial declarations, arguing that some characters in the Bible are gay and lesbians. “The Holy Bible tells me David was gay and Ruth was a lesbian, if this makes you mad, you need to wake up. David and Jonathan were gays. Ruth and Naomi were lesbians, if we are to interpret using modern languages to describe the behaviours, accounts and evidences in the Bible.”
Another church tucked inside Elijah Bus Stop, Badagry expressway in Agbara has a pastor that sees promoting polygamy as his major anointing. The popular man of God uses biblical passages and interpretations, to support men marrying more than one wife, insisting that polygamy is not a sin before God.
Identifying wolves in sheep’s clothes:
Freedom of worship has led to the proliferation of religious sects. This has been worsened by the fact that starting a church in this country is as easy as starting a road side kiosk. Hence, shady persons with weird lifestyles have cashed-in masquerading as men of God to hoodwink and deceive the gullible.
However, identifying the wolves in sheep clothes is somewhat easy says, Rev. Bernard Ude, a Lagos based cleric. According to him, “we have several outlandish pastors on the prowl in our country now”. Their speaking in tongues is the loudest, and they have a fairly large congregation. Also they dress, talk and appear like real pastors, but they are fake in real sense. Some of the various ways to identify a fake pastor are. One, they only preach sweet things. They just preach prosperity instead of salvation. Two, they guide without being able to lead. A pastor should not just guide a Christian; he should also lead the Christian. The pastor only requires the facts of the Holy Bible to guide his followers, but he will need the leading of the Holy Spirit in order to be able to lead his followers. If a pastor is not able to give you words directly from the Holy Spirit or he teaches you to shun such revelations, then that pastor is fake. Then the third is the easy life kind of pastor. If your pastor is the type that loves to take things easy and try to avoid offending his church members, then that pastor is a fake one. The fourth tip is that a fake pastor places more emphasis on tithe than other biblical truths. The fifth is that Christians should be wary of a pastor that just lay hands on people’s head without any prompting or without you asking of prayer. His uncontrolled and constant laying of hands on members is most probably a means via which he initiates his congregation to Satanism. So, be wary of such ungodly pastors.”