OKEY SAMPSON, Umuahia
A wise person, it has been said, time and again, should learn from what happens to others. It is quite instructive here to let young ladies know that when it comes to marriage, all that glitters are not gold. For the impatient ones who jump into bed at the first sighting of a suitor, this heart-rending story should serve not only as a good lesson but also an eye opener. It speaks volume also that a pastor who is supposed to be God’s advocate here on earth, could, after promising to marry a girl, ask her to commit abortion after impregnating her in the course of their relationship. To say the least, it is quite appalling. But that’s what the world seemed to have been turned into by wolves in sheep clothing.
How the hunted met the hunter
Gift Onyeama, 18, from Enugu State, after finishing her secondary school education, last year, decided to get herself a job in a private firm in the coal city, pending the time she will be given admission to go for further studies. Luckily, she secured one this year to study Computer Science at Institute of Management and Technology (IMT). The girl whose father works in an engineering firm in Enugu and whose mother is a businesswoman confessed that because of the nature of her job, she hardly had time to attend church service. But sometime last year, she was compelled by one of her friends to do so.
According to her, she invited her to a vigil in their church and she decided to oblige her. The name of the church: Winds of Liberation Prophetic Church, located at No.14 Amagu Ugwu Road, opposite Redeemed Christian Church of God, off First Bank, Gariki, Enugu, Enugu State. Its General Overseer is one Pastor Samuel Orji Emenike, popularly known as Ikuku 1. “My friend told me they had vigil and that she would like me to go with her,” she recalled. “I said okay.”
Contact and exchange of phone numbers
But the moment Pastor Emenike sighted her from the altar, she said, it seemed he could not take his eyes off her. She said: “It was on a Thursday. After the vigil, the following morning being Friday, I wanted to go. But he sent his assistant pastor to call me.” She said she was as surprised as she was suspicious. “Within me, I was thinking whether there was anything secret he had seen about me that he did not want to expose on the pulpit but decided to tell me in the secret. I took excuse from my friend and went to his office.” It turned out that he did not invite her to preach the word of God to her nor to counsel her as she had hoped. “Immediately I entered his office, the first thing he asked me was my name. I told him,” she said. “But all of a sudden he started talking something about love and wanting to marry me. What he said sounded funny to me. I never believed he could say such things to me. I did not take what he was saying seriously that time and I let him know that.”
But before she left the Pastor asked and obtained her telephone number. He likewise gave his to her. “He requested we exchanged contacts and I obliged by giving him my phone number before I went home that day.”
After the exchange of phone numbers, Gift said the pastor kept calling her every other day. “After giving him my phone number, he kept calling my line every other time to the point that I became uncomfortable. Then one day he told me on the phone to come over for a hangout. I told him that the type of job I was doing did not give me time for such. He suggested that I quit the job and promised to pay me double of my salary. I told him that I was not going to resign and I made him understand that the little they were paying me was enough for me.” Never the one to give up easily, the lady said Pastor Emenike kept calling and disturbing her about relationship throughout last year. But she tried to avoid him as much as she could.
The promise of marriage
But this year’s Easter, she had some personal issue that bugged her mind and decided to seek his counsel. She said she went through the protocols, which include payment of money to see the pastor. She collected number and waited for her turn. “When it was my turn, I went in to see him. Immediately he saw me, he said: ‘since last year, you’ve been running, but now, I have seen you.’ He said that even before I came, they had shown him I was coming and told me he was serious about seeing me.” After explaining her reason for coming to see him, Gift said the pastor gave her some prayer points and some other things to do. “As I was about to leave, he told me he would want us to go into a relationship and added that he was not coming for friendship. He said that he saw me as different from the other girls he had been seeing. He also said he would want to meet my mum after which he would know what to do next.”
On hearing that, Gift said she went home a happy girl and gladly informed her parents about the pastor’s marriage overtures. “The next time I went to his church, he asked me why I did not bring my mum along, adding that whether I thought he was joking over what he told me. I responded that I never knew he was serious. It was from then that I started taking him a bit serious. So, the next Sunday, I went with my mum. We met in his office and he told my mum he would like to marry me. He was the one that fixed the date he would come to see my people. We came back and told my dad and he said it is okay.”
A move to solemnize the ‘marriage’
Thereafter, Pastor Emenike made what could be described as the right move towards ‘fulfilling’ his promise to marry Gift. “On that day, the pastor came with his friends and some bottles of wine,” Gift recalled. “My dad and my uncles with few relations were there; my mum cooked Onugbu soup for them and they ate and everybody was happy. After everything, he asked my parents to prepare the marriage list, promising that he would come again.”
But it would seem that all the sweet words were intended to make Gift and her parents drop their guards. As they were going, she said the pastor asked her to see them off. But he later pressurized her to follow him home. “I followed him without having anything in mind and when we went to his house with his friends, he said there was no electricity light in the house, that we should go to a hotel because he would not feel comfortable in the house without light. I followed him to the hotel. He paid for a hotel room and knelt down and was begging for all sorts of things. I asked him that since he said he was coming to marry me, why the rush into things (sex).”
But from that day on, it became a regular affair. “I followed him to his village and he introduced me to his uncle. After that, we started dating because I now became convinced that he was going to marry me. I used to visit and sleep over in his house. I cooked and we ate together with his friends.”
Pregnancy and pastor’s request for abortion
But the bubble burst when about five months ago Gift discovered that she was pregnant. “I told him but he said I should not bother. That was on a Sunday.” But the following day being Monday, Gift said he woke her up early in the morning and asked her to make inquiries about how much it would cost to abort the pregnancy. The flabbergasted girl said: “I did not expect that from him as a man of God and I told him bluntly that I could not do such a thing.”
Next, she took her parents into confidence about not only the pregnancy but also her stance not to abort it. “My dad went to his church the following day to find out what his decision was concerning my condition. He said if he had changed his mind concerning the marriage, he should at least take responsibility of the pregnancy. But he told my dad that before taking any decision on the matter, he would like to see me first.”
On the Monday following the day her father visited, Gift went to meet him. “When he saw me, he asked why I was afraid to do common abortion. He said that people have been doing it without stress. I repeated my stance that I am not prepared for any abortion.”
Gift who alleged that since the man impregnated her, he had not cared to know how she is feeling, said that the next thing he did was to transfer N10, 000 into her bank account. Thereafter, he put a call through to her and informed her that the money was for the abortion of the unborn baby.
Threat to life
But the girl added that his nonchalant attitude is the least of her problems. The constant threat to her life for refusing to abort the baby is her greatest headache at the moment, she told Saturday Sun. She feels that the man, afraid of the scandal that her giving birth to the baby, will cause, is determined to eliminate either her or both her and the baby. Her words: “This man has been threatening my life; I have on three occasions encountered strange men who I believe had sinister motives. One evening, I came downstairs to get something, when I sighted a Toyota Camry car parked in front of our house. All of a sudden, three men came out and moved towards me. I ran back. The second one was that I was walking along our street when the same car pulled up and three men equally came out. Two of them came and held my clothes and said: ‘you don’t want to do common abortion; you want to spoil our pastor’s image; you must do the abortion or we will deal with you.’
The girl said when she wanted to shout, the young men hurriedly left her. “After they left, I asked myself if it had gotten to this level. In fact, the third time, I was standing at a bus stop near our house when the same car pulled up and the occupants wanted to drag me inside. But I miraculously escaped from them. I keep asking if it had gotten to the extent of sending people to harm or kill me? I am now afraid. My life is in danger. I can’t move out alone again; in fact as I speak with you, I’m somewhere in Anambra State so that they will not harm me.”
The police connection
Gift stated that when the pastor refused to take responsibility for the pregnancy, they reported the matter to the police at the Enugu Area Command. Although he was invited to the station, he was later released on bail. But she alleged that since then the police have been foot-dragging over the matter as they have refused to take it to court. “We want the matter to be taken to court so that the court will mandate the pastor to take responsibility for the unborn baby, but the police keep saying that he is a public figure and that they wouldn’t like to embarrass him.”
The lady made it clear to Saturday Sun that she was no longer interested in marrying him. “I don’t need his money,” she said. “Whatever amount the court says he should pay to take care of the pregnancy and for the upkeep of the baby, will be okay by me,” Efforts to hear from the Enugu State Police Command could not yield fruit as the PPRO, Daniel Ndukwe, did not respond to text messages sent to him.
Pastor Emenike’s reaction
But when this reporter contacted Emenike over Gift’s allegations, he was taken aback and retorted:“When did Gift came (sic) to report again?” When the reporter told him, he snapped: “This is a past story.” But he could not say whether the matter has been settled or not.