How I built a Church while in prison – Ex-president Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on Nigerians to be useful to God no matter their circumstance.

Mr. Obasanjo spoke at the Shepherdhill Baptist Church in Lagos, Sunday, during a Thanksgiving Service to mark his 80th birthday.

The former president said God made him do three things while he was an inmate at Yola Prison.

“One, God made me to build a church,” Mr. Obasanjo said.

“It’s very unusual, I asked the authorities for land, they were reluctant, but eventually they gave me land and immediately we started getting donations.

“It was started before I left Yola. Wherever you are, you can still be useful to the work of God.”

Mr. Obasanjo said he also got approval from prison authorities to farm while in detention and he cultivated “enough beans to feed all the inmates and warders.”

When he was transferred to the Kirikiri Prison in Lagos, Mr. Obasanjo said he became the prison pastor and won several souls for God.

“There was a boy whom they had introduced to me, his nickname was Baba Ali,” the former president said.

“Baba Ali was the head of the armed robbers in the North. And if you were an armed robber and you came to prison, you must first of all go and pay homage to him. If you were going out, you must go to him and ask for instruction on what to do next.

“So I called Baba Ali one day and said, ‘You are not coming to fellowship, I want you to be coming to the fellowship.’ And he said, ‘Baba, don’t worry me, don’t worry me at all because God can never forgive me. I have killed so many people in my life, I have drunk the blood of so many people, I have eaten the flesh of so many people and God will never forgive me, so don’t waste your time about me.’”

Mr. Obasanjo said he left Baba Ali for a while, and then returned later to continue his evangelism.

“I went back and said, ‘Baba Ali, you know all you said that you are a murderer, whether you killed only one person or a thousand people, you are a murderer; but you have forgotten that Moses was a murderer but God used him to bring the people of Israel out of Egypt?

“David was a murderer but God called him a man after my heart.

“By the time I was leaving the prison, I told Baba Ali that if he was able to make it and he would like to go to Bible school, I would send him to Bible school.”

Baba Ali was released from prison two years after Mr. Obasanjo, the former president said, by which time he had been elected Nigeria’s president.

“It took him two years to get through to me, when he got to me, I reminded him of our agreement and he said he was ready to go to the Bible school.

“So I sent him to the seminary, Baba Ali spent two years in the seminary. Today, he is a pastor of a Baptist Church. What is more? Baba Ali’s junior brother took after him and has also become a pastor.”

 

Source: Premium Times

Nigerian Army probes church invasion by soldiers.

The 23rd Amoured Brigade of the Nigerian Army based in Yola, Adamawa State, has commenced investigation into the disruption last Sunday of a church service in Yola by some men in military uniform.

The men, suspected to be soldiers, were reportedly invited to the state headquarters of the Assemblies of God’s Church in Luggere Ward by a Reverend, Thomas Taro, during the Sunday service in an attempt to take over the church and remove the presiding pastor, Patrick Waziri.

But the brigade spokesman, Adamu Ngulde, a Major, said the army did not send any of its personnel to the church and has commenced moves to track those involved if at all they were genuine military men.

“The church told us that the men were not wearing their name tags. We contacted our officer in charge of counter insurgency as well as security in the town and he said he did not deploy soldiers to participate in any operation in the church.

“Besides, no civilian has the right to invite soldiers into a civil matter like this,” Mr. Ngulde said.

Mr. Ngulde said the military had already met with the authorities of the church and was looking for Mr. Taro who was said to have invited the said military men.

Speaking to journalists on his church’s experience, Mr. Waziri said the development had to do with the crisis rocking the national leadership of the church at its headquarters in Enugu.
Two men, Paul Emeka, a professor, and Chidi Okorofor, a Reverend, are contesting the leadership of the church.

Mr. Waziri said the Supreme Court had recently addressed the matter by asking the parties to embrace dialogue.

According to Mr. Waziri, the Supreme Court judgement did not give any party victory but said the parties should go and settle the dispute amicable.

Mr. Waziri said Mr. Taro, who belongs to Mr. Okoroafor‘s group, misinterpreted the judgement to mean the court gave his side victory and that was why he stormed the church with the soldiers to remove him.

He said Mr. Taro needed to know that since Mr. Emeka’s group, to which he (Waziri) belongs, is still in charge at the headquarters, nothing has changed.

“He (Taro) needs to know that he is not the one to enforce court judgement whenever the need arises; the presence of military was totally uncalled for.”

Mr. Waziri called for the review of the church’s constitution to check lapses that created room for the crisis.

“Most people have identified the need for the review of our constitution, which is obvious to safeguard such happenings in the future.”

When contacted on his involvement, Mr. Taro simply told journalists that he would not speak to the press until he had contacted the church’s national headquarters.

 

Source: Premium Times

Pastor EA Adeboye: The worst leadership is from the church.

Enoch Adeboye, the general overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, worldwide, has said “the worst leadership is from the church.”

The cleric said bad leadership was the core of Nigeria’s problem as a nation, but noted that it was particularly worse in the church.

PUNCH reports that Adeboye made the comments on Wednesday in Ikeja, Lagos, during the third annual birthday public lecture organised to commemorate his 75th birthday.

Represented by his wife, Foluke, the pastor said, “Leadership is at the core of our problem in this nation. Some people sit in their room and comment on newspaper articles, but have you removed the log in your eyes?

“If there is anywhere leadership should be recommended, it should be from the church. But it is unfortunate that the worst leadership is from the church. We should go and check ourselves. Are we in true leadership or we are in falsehood? Because this has been the groaning of my heart for many years and I pray about it fervently.

“I challenge the leaders in this church that what the Bible says about elders, I have not seen it. But things are changing and I want us to be part of that change.

“The problem of corruption which we have in this nation would not have been there if everybody is contented with what he or she has. But people love to do more than they have. They want to show off to their children, and the children also when they get to school or are with their colleagues, are not satisfied because they were not brought up to be satisfied.”

“Kill any Fulani herdsmen you see around you”, Pastor Suleman admonishes his church members.

The founder of Omega Fire ministries, Johnson Suleman, in a sermon given at his church’s parked auditorium called for the killing of Fulani herdsmen.

The controversial Evangelical preacher, who caused a stir last year when he declared that the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, will die for his plan to pass a law restricting public preaching, in a video footage told his congregants that he was told of a plan by Fulani herdsmen to attack his convoy and shoot him.

It is unclear when the video was recorded but the preacher’s reference to the recent crisis in Southern Kaduna suggests the sermon might have been given any time within October 2016 and January 2017.

“Somebody called me on phone and said: ‘are you alone?’ I said yeah. He said I want to talk to you. I said what is it. He said there is a plan to send Fulani herdsmen after you. I said after who? He said after me. He said why are you saying okay? He said I’m telling you to be careful. I said careful of what? He said they are going to run into the road like herdsmen and cause some confusion and when your security men are trying to clear them, clear them, you will come out and the will open fire. I said Okay,” the cleric said.

The Auchi, Edo State based pastor, added that the same person called him about two weeks later to inform him that herdsmen have now planned to attack his church premises.

He said after the he received the call he instructed his “people” to kill any Fulani herdsmen they see around the church, to loud cheers of approval from the congregants.

Apparently spurred by the noise of approval from his followers, he escalated the call for Fulani herdsmen to be lynched.

“I have told them in the church here that any Fulani herdsman that just enters by mistake and want to pretend, kill him. Kill him. Cut his head. If they are busy killing Christians and nothing is happening, we will kill them and nothing will happen, he said pumping with emotions.”

The cleric made reference to the communal clashes in Southern Kaduna, where hundreds of people have been reported killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen saying no one has been prosecuted for the killing.

The preacher also accused Nigerians from the north of the country of being in control of the country’s security agencies. He wondered how Boko Haram members were able to escape from jail when pro-Biafra agitators are in prison.

He suggested that a state of emergency should have been declared in Kaduna State for the killings but for Mr. El-Rufai.

When reached for comments, a spokesperson of the church, who gave his name as, Pastor John Okafor, said he cannot give comment over the phone and that this reporter should travel to the church headquarters in Auchi, for answers to questions posed to him about the video.

Below is a transcript of the video:

I have not told my wife. I will tell you this. Yesterday she was telling me something and I walked away. She didn’t know why I walked away. I was battling between telling her and not telling her.

Somebody called me on phone and said: ‘are you alone?’ I said yeah. He said ‘I want to talk to you’. I said what is it. He said ‘there is a plan to send Fulani herdsmen after you.’ I said after who? He said after me. He said ‘why are you saying okay?’ He said ‘I’m telling you to be careful.’ I said careful of what? He said ‘they are going to run into the road like herdsmen and cause some confusion and while your security men are trying to clear them, clear them, you will come out and the will open fire.’ I said Okay.

After about a week, two weeks, he called me and said, ‘if they don’t do that they might bring them to come around church premises.’ I said it is okay. Are you the one they are after. I said it’s okay.

And I told my people, I said any Fulani herdsman you see around you, kill him. (cheers from the congregants). Yesterday she was talking I just keep quiet because you know women there are things you don’t tell them.

I have told them in the church here that any Fulani herdsman that just enter by mistake and want to pretend, kill him. Kill him (more cheers from the packed church).

Cut his head. If they are busy killing Christians and nothing is happening, we will kill them and nothing will happen (more cheers).

I said I’m not going to talk this year, so let me not talk. Am I talking to somebody here. ‘Apostle why are you saying we should kill somebody?’ Didn’t David kill Goliath? Was that spiritual?

Many people in Kaduna are now widows. Many are now fatherless. Many are orphans because some people think they own power. Kill them. Am I talking to somebody here? Are we Christians? Yes. Are we believers? Yes? You can’t be widows, you can’t be widowers because of some devilish people that say they have a religion? Now they are shouting Biafra wants to go, Biafra wants to go. Why won’t they want to go when you think that the north own the country. Every security, every position is from the north. Very soon south-south will start their own and say they want to go. Let’s leave your cattle for you.

We have lawyers here. We have some lawyers in the crowd. There is a lawyer here. 212 people in Kaduna are dead. Nobody is prosecuted. Not one. River State election, few people died now there is a panel of enquiry because it is South-South. In a state, when 50 people died they will declare a state of emergency. Two hundred and two people died and one short devil that calls himself a governor is moving about and no state of emergency. They caught a Boko Haram member, before we woke up they said he has escaped. Escaped! And Biafran agitators are still in prison now and they have not escaped. But Boko Haram members Escaped!

 

See the video below:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0RhW3spBo8

“Engine cleaner healed, delivered my church members” – South African Pastor

Theo Bongani Maseko, a South African pastor, has joined the league of religious leaders who carry out deliverance through unconventional means.

 

Maseko, a pastor at Breath of Christ Ministry, makes use of engine cleaning fluid to “cast out disease and devils”.

 

“What I am holding now with my hand, is the fullness of Christ in this bottle. With this bottle you can empty HIV wards. You can cast out any disease and devils. By looking at this bottle you are now free! By touching it you are imparted with a strange anointing from above,” a post on the church’s Facebook page read.

 

“The fullness of Christ is in this bottle. Healing and strange deliverance #Mark 16: 17 -18,” another post read with pictures of the congregation attached to it.

 

Havoline1

 

Maseko confirmed to The Star, a South African newspaper, that he made congregants drink the chemical to demonstrate the power of God.

 

“When we pray over anything, its poison dies. So it can’t harm people. Nothing happened, no one has been to hospital,” he said, claiming that those who drank the engine cleaner had been “saved, healed and delivered”.

 

“Jesus spat on the ground and made mud. He took that mud and smeared it on the eyes of a blind man and, instantly, that blindness was healed,” he added.

 

Before now, some religious leaders have made headlines by using items like insecticide and disinfectants for deliverance sessions.

The Nigerian church and its contradictions – By Niran Adedokun

I am hoping that the church in Nigeria does not see Monday’s sack of Mr. Jim Obazee as the Executive Secretary of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria as some sort of victory.

I am still in the process of convincing myself that the hullaballoo, which followed Pastor Enoch Adeboye’s decision to step down from his position as the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Nigeria, did not inspire President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to send Obazee home at this time. I try to justify the action by the fact that there e loads of boards of government agencies and parastatals not yet reconstituted and that this was just one of those actions that the President remembers by the day.

If that is not the case, I hope the former ES got fired for insubordination, coming from his alleged refusal to follow a ministerial directive to suspend the implementation of the Not-For-Profit Organisations Governance Code, 2016. Either of these would save the church from the public angst on this matter even as one concedes that they are propositions Nigerians are reluctant to consider. And, it would be foolhardy not to understand. The Yoruba say when the neighbour’s baby dies the morning after the witch shrieked, you need no fortune teller to arrive at the conclusion that the witch killed that child!

Obazee’s sack comes across like an  aftermath of Adeboye’s relinquishing of his position two days earlier,  and it is a sack that did untold harm to the already beaten reputation of the church! It does not seem to me that the leadership of the church realises this though, and that is unfortunate.

In response to Obazee’s sack, way ahead of the expiration of his tenure, General Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. Musa Asake, was quoted by The Nation as saying: “The sack of Jim (Obazee) is good riddance to bad rubbish. Anybody that wants to fight the church will find himself where he does not want…”

Although this distasteful statement appears to be Asake’s personal opinion since the same news report cited CAN President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, as saying that lawyers of the organisation were still studying the situation, it nevertheless suggests that the NFPO was a personal war against the Christian faith. This position is untrue.It also suggests that the Nigerian Church is a sovereign entity by itself.

Otherwise, bodies like CAN that feel aggrieved by the code would adopt the normal course dictated by the laws of the country in the pursuit of justice. To submit that the premature dismissal of a man who only seemed to demand good corporate governance in the country was appropriate deepens the suspicion of opacity and mammon mongering that many Nigerians, including a lot of faith adherents, hold against church leaders!

In addition to this, the Church would have taken the pains to deliberately communicate its disputations as well as processes that it had put in place to obtain reprieve and retain the confidence of the people by being open and accountable. It is a duty that a body serving God and man owes and dereliction at it is bound to send wrong signals.

For instance, discussions in the public domain have restricted these issues to the refusal of church leaders to pay taxes, open their books to scrutiny and preserve the leadership of churches for their family members. Beyond the commendable step taken by Pastor Adeboye in compliance with provisions of the code, the church has made no effort to put a contrary perspective forward. A section of the church even blames Adeboye for being so forward! And I am unable to understand the grouse.

First off, this code is not just about the church as it also talks about leaders of the Muslim faith. Second, while the idea of government stepping into the arena to dictate the tenure of religious leaders sounds absurd, I found that the regulations provide a lot of latitude for founders and extant spiritual leaders of such organisations. If the Church however finds unjust provisions in this code, it owes the public the presentation of superior arguments to that effect. But there are many reasons why the Nigerian church would be unable to do that.

Prime amongst this is the appalling lack of cohesion within its fold. No matter how much it pretends at it, Christendom in Nigeria is unable to approach issues with a single mind and this seems to have diminished its impact.

Some could argue that the level of discord in the Church derives from the number of denominations creeping on us daily, but that is beside the point. Since unity hinged on selfless love for one another is the very essence of the faith, those who start new churches would be forced to fall in line if they met functional structures on the ground.

If the preaching of Christ remains the focus of the Church, His ministers should aggregate opinions and speak with one voice on issues that affect the effective propagation of their Commission. But here is where the problem is- the Church in Nigeria is a big but disorganised enclave where every man feathers his own nest or so it appears.

A corollary to this is the low or no entry barrier into ministry. Capitalising on the ethereal and personal nature of the invitation into ministry, innumerable people wake up daily to claim that they have been called by God whereas, many are inspired by nothing other than existential reasons and accumulate the wealth that they assume churching brings to them.

They then go on to perpetrate lies by concocting all sorts of out-of-this-world doctrines that find no foundation in the Bible. This is the origin of abominable conduct of spiritual manipulations, fortune telling, dissentions, embezzlement and such immoral acts that should, ordinarily not be spoken of amongst believers.

What is worse is that neither CAN nor the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, which pretends to give a sense of oneness to the Church in Nigeria, has any structure with which to deal with members who fall short of the very clear precepts of God. I do not even think that any self-induced code governs the administration of churches in Nigeria.

As far as it runs, Christians and their leaders are a body of free souls with everyone doing what they like without repercussions.  It is an irony that church leaders who teach the eternal truth that nature allows no vacuum, forget that a church that does not regulate itself invites secular scrutiny.

To fail to self-regulate and then go on to reject external intervention is to cast yourself in the shadowy image of a dodgy group of people, engrossed in every other thing but the limpid gospel you represent and preach.  This becomes more intolerable when you get triumphant at the termination of the duties of a man who, even if overzealous or misguided, only sought a decent country. That can be no victory at all.

Victory for the Nigerian church lies in for starters, leading the nation in the very important task of good corporate governance; finding a voice, united in the promotion of the selfless love of Christ; creating an effective internal self-check mechanism; maintaining an irreducible standard of decency and accountability to the faithful and nation as well as committing to persistent prayers on behalf of the faith, the faithful and the country that fathers us.

What we currently see of the Church is a power drunk, money mongering group, striving for the preservation of personal fiefdoms, none of which benefits God who made the call or the man, which the Church is called to bring good news to. We only see the embracement of vanity, all in contradiction of the profession that leaders of the Church say they committed. It is a contradiction that begs for urgent and godly attention.

Follow me on Twitter @niranadedokun

Police arrest comedians for criticizing church in new video

Comedians, Mc Toothpick, Laff Mayor, Mc Tutalk and Mc Samorano, all of them members of a comedy group known as Naija’s Craziest, were reportedly arrested by the police on Tuesday in Lagos for their part in the production of a new video that parodies members of the Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Church and its General Overseer, Pastor Lazarus Muoka.

Tagged Naija’s Craziest Episode 144, the video, which is available on Youtube, begins with a disclaimer and a caption that reads, “When members of a church think that an apron is powerful enough to protect them, they will roll in the mud and confront armed robbers.”

Thereafter, it opens, showing a group of Christian worshippers, presumably members of the church, wearing olive green aprons and singing loudly and dancing in a muddy street. One of them, a male, rolls on the ground and in a pool of muddy water that lies between the camera and the singing mass.

While the scene continues to run in the background, the comedians appear on the screen, one after another and criticise members of the church for their conduct in public. Beginning with Mc Toothpick, they attack the latter for “preaching and constituting a nuisance” to the public.

Also, in the video, Mc Tutalk hints at a plot to deceive the members of the church with the idea of a spiritual and protective apron that sells for N1000 each. According to him, if all the members, numbering 200,000, buy an apron each, the total sum realised would be N200m.

Our correspondent gathered that the video caught the attention of the church and its G.O, who then reported the matter to the police. A statement posted on the Facebook page of Naija’s Craziest on Tuesday formally announced the arrest of its members.

The statement read, “We would like to inform our fans concerning the arrest of the Naija’s Craziest Crew by the state CID Panti. The arrest came as a result of a report filed by the Lords Chosen Church G.O. over a comedy video satirising the church members rolling in the mud.”

The statement indicated that the mobile phones belonging to the comedians were confiscated to prevent them from making calls.

Describing the arrests as an attack on the comedians’ rights to freedom of speech, the statement continued, “It is amazing that you can be arrested over a comedy video that has a disclaimer at the beginning.” It ended by adding that the arrested comedians were being detained at the state Criminal and Investigative Department in Panti and urging fans of the comedy group to share the post.

According to a report published by a popular blog, the police informed one of the comedians, MC Toothpick, that he and other members of Naija’s Craziest had committed an offence against the law.

But it added that the police did not state the exact offence committed by the comedians by posting the video on social media.

When contacted for details, the Public Relations Officer of the Lagos State Police Command, SP Dolapo Badmus, did not respond as of the time of going to press.

Lagos police accuse Ogun pastor of selling 64 babies.

A pastor at the Divine Yard Deliverance Ministry in Iyana Iyesi, Ota, Ogun State, Peace Udoh, has been arrested by the police for allegedly running a baby factory in the church.

The 47-year-old was said to have sold 64 babies before she was arrested on Sunday by operatives from the Lagos State Police Command who acted on a tip-off.

Udoh was apprehended with one Angela Akpan and a nurse, Mrs. Bukola Ajala, who reportedly assisted in childbirth at Udoh’s church.

PUNCH Metro learnt that the pastor usually referred complicated cases to the nurse, whose clinic – El Shaddai Hospital – is located a few metres away from the church.

Our correspondent gathered that Angela’s younger sister, 17-year-old Goodnews Akpan, recently gave birth to a child at the clinic.

Angela, who was arrested on Saturday in the Sango area, was said to have led police operatives on Sunday to Udoh’s church and Ajala’s clinic, where they were picked up respectively.

While parading the suspects on Monday at the Lagos State Police Command headquarters in Ikeja, the Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, said detectives swooped on the syndicate after receiving intelligence report that Udoh needed a buyer for Goodnews’ baby.

“The suspects run a baby factory in the Sango Ota area. We are still working to get 64 other children she has sold out,” the CP added.

However, the pastor, who hails from Akwa Ibom State, refuted the allegation, saying she used the church as a maternity home to assist her pregnant church members for a token.

She said, “I have been a pastor for 13 years. I only assisted my church members during childbirth. I take delivery of 13 to 15 babies every year and I have handled over 60 cases so far. I don’t sell the babies.

“Whenever I have a complicated case, I refer the patient to the nurse and we share the money she collects for the service. Angela brought her sister to me in July. She gave birth on November 16 at the nurse’s clinic and she was discharged. I was surprised when the police came to arrest me yesterday (Sunday).”

Ajala, the nurse, said she collected between N15,000 and N17,000 for each child delivery, adding that she didn’t know anything about selling of babies.

The third suspect, Angela, said, “I am from Abak in Akwa Ibom. I took my sister from our village to the pastor when her pregnancy was four months. She was there until she gave birth in November and I paid N17,000. I didn’t intend to sell her child and I have never sold any child before.”

Goodnews, a secondary school dropout, told our correspondent that she was not aware of the plan to sell her baby. She said she followed Angela to Lagos to avoid being ridiculed in the village.

“I got pregnant in the school but none of my boyfriends was willing to take the responsibility for the pregnancy.

“My mother would not allow me stay with her so I decided to follow my sister to Lagos,” she added.

Activist rejects Church’s award after request for ‘small assistance’.

Inibehe Effiong, a lawyer and human rights activist, has rejected a “Freedom and Justice Award” that was to be given to him by a local branch of the African Church in Akwa Ibom State.

The award ceremony took place on Sunday

, without Mr. Effiong showing up.

Mr. Effiong said he rejected the award from the St. Paul’s Parish of the church, Eket, because of “unnecessary expectation” from the church.

“I cannot accept an award that violates my principles and values,” Mr. Effiong said.

“My work as a human rights lawyer cum activist is totally humanitarian and selfless. I believe that any recognition or appreciation of my modest humanitarian activities by any individual or group should be without a request or expectation of reward.”

The young lawyer explained that he took to Facebook to publish his “Notice of Rejection” because he had previously used the same medium to publicise the church’s decision to bestow the award on him.

Richard Peter, the priest in-charge of St. Paul’s Parish, in his response to Mr. Effiong, explained what the lawyer meant by “unnecessary expectation”.

Mr. Peter said Mr. Effiong and others who were to receive different categories of awards from the church were expected to assist the church complete a “small project”. He did not mention what the project was all about.

“It was never a condition (for the award) or compulsory. But (just) an appeal for support,” Mr. Peter said.

The clergy told PREMIUM TIMES, Tuesday, that he was embarrassed by Mr. Effiong’s action.

He said he had never met with Mr. Effiong before, but that he had followed his activism through the social media, and that his nomination of the lawyer was to encourage him to touch the lives of people.

He said he called Mr. Effiong to brief him in advance that during the award ceremony the awardees would likely raise money publicly to support a church project, and that he did not want the lawyer to be surprised or embarrassed when it happened.

Buying of titles, awards and honours is a common practice among rich and influential Nigerians.

“Though I feel so sad about it, I want us to forget about what happened,” the clergy, Mr. Peter said.

How I survived Uyo Church building collapse – Ini Edo

But for divine intervention, popular Nollywood actress, Ini Edo, would have been a victim of the collapsed church building in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.

The roof of the Reigners Bible Church in Uyo, caved in during an ordination service on Saturday, klling at least 29 people.

Hundreds of worshippers including the state governor, Udom Emmanuel, were present when the incident occurred.

Ini Edo, who is the Special Assistant to the Akwa Ibom State Governor on Tourism, attributed her lucky escape to a missed flight to Uyo.

She shared her “testimony” with her 1.6 million Instagram followers.

“Two days ago, I was very bitter about the unreliable nature of some of our airlines cancelling flights without prior notice thereby hindering my plans to attend a church service ceremony held in Uyo. Now out of determination, I took a flight to Calabar with the hope of being in Uyo just in time for the service since the journey between Calabar and Uyo was just about an hour. The journey ended up taking over 7hrs because of an unexplainable traffic.

“No accident, good road no hitches just a headlock traffic. Whilst in the car, I started wondering why all my efforts to be at the service was being thwarted… then I got a call, that the entire church building had collapsed during the course of the service. Once again, God had saved me. My heart goes out to the families of the departed. May the good Lord grant them the heart to bear the loss.?Every day we see is a blessing. It’s not because we are special or better. It’s the exceeding Grace of our Lord Jesus. I am so humbled and grateful to God for preserving me. Happy thanksgiving.”

Popular Nigerian clergy blasts pastors who invite comedians to church events

Popular Nigerian dramatist and founder of Mount Zion Drama Ministry, Mike Bamiloye, has spoken out against Nigerian clergies who invite comedians to perform at their church events.

Mr. Bamiloye, who is also the president, Mount Zion Faith Ministries, tackled the controversial topic in a lengthy post on his official YouTube page on Monday.

In addressing the issue, he made reference to a particular YouTube video titled, Still Ringing Brings Down House On The Rock, Pastor Paul Adefarasin Laughed So Hard.

He titled the article, As per COMEDY in Church Meetings and Events!!  The post, which has since gone viral, generated a lot of comments with majority of the respondents concurring with the popular clergy.

It partly read, “I want to address Christians – ALL denominations – this morning without prejudice!

“For a long while I have questioned the inclusion of COMEDY in Church events. What do I question? The fact that the comedians brought in are allowed to make jokes of scriptures, the Blood of Jesus, speaking in tongues, the throne of grace etc.’ AND WE SIT THERE LAUGHING!

“What are we laughing at? What is funny? Mocking God and Christ and the Holy Spirit and the Word is funny????

“We hear of other religions where they are obsessed with protecting the image of their Leader and we gleefully allow people to MOCK our Leader JESUS CHRIST and the Holy Spirit and thereby indirectly MOCKING GOD!!! They look at us with disdain because we are BAD AMBASSADORS of our faith!”

Still writing, he added that cynicism has crept slowly into the lives of Christians. He also noted the fact that most Christians publicly abuse leaders of the gospel with glee and mock certain commandments of God.

“I was thinking of all this since Friday when a comedian was allowed in the stage at the EXPERIENCE to use a scripture in the Old Testament as foundation for his jokes! I LAUGHED also but later felt badly convicted and I said I will speak out – then this morning I received the message below in my Watsapp and I said – somebody feels the same way I do. So there it is: what is the stance you will take??? Join the revelers or stand against MOCKERY in the name of COMEDY in Church activities and events???I have said my own!.”

One of Nigeria’s foremost Christian dramatists, Mr. Bamiloye founded Mount Zion Ministries in 1985.

His debut drama, titled Hell in Conference was staged at the National Christian Teachers Conference in 1986 at Ilesa in Osun State.

He has featured, produced and directed several Nigerian Christian films over the years. Some of his notable films include Fiwajomi”, “Dying With the King”, “Shadows of Death”, “Journey in Circle”, “Mobile Prison”, “Harmony Deal” and “The Accountant.”

Akwa Ibom church collapse: How aide sacrificed his life to save Governor Emmanuel

An aide to Udom Emmanuel lost his life in the process of saving the Akwa Ibom governor from the collapsed church building in Uyo, PREMIUM TIMES has gathered.

At least 27 persons lost their lives, while others sustained injuries when the roof and the iron beams in the building housing Reigners Bible Church, Uyo, collapsed on Saturday during a church ceremony.

The church pastor, Akan Weeks, was to be ‘enthroned’ as a bishop in the ill-fated ceremony.

Ubong Mboho, an evangelist, who was inside the collapsed building told reporters that he witnessed the governor’s aide sacrifice his life to save the governor.

“He (the governor’s aide) was standing close to the governor. I saw him push the governor away from danger when the building started falling,” said Mr. Mboho whose father, Elijah Mboho, an influential arch bishop in Akwa Ibom, was scheduled to perform the ‘enthronement’.

Unfortunately, the governor’s aide, who was later identified as Ernest Idem, couldn’t get out alive; he was hit by the iron beams and he died instantly, Mr. Mboho said.

Two other persons who spoke separately corroborated Mr. Mboho’s story on how Mr. Idem died.

The late Mr. Idem, from Ibesikpo-Asutan Local Government Area, was said to have worked with the Zenith Bank before he joined the protocol unit of the state government when Mr. Emmanuel became the governor.

Mr. Mboho said he was making effort to save his own father – the archbishop – when the incident occurred.

He said the archbishop and his wife were unhurt, but that some persons within his entourage sustained injuries.

The 40 years old Mr. Mboho pulled off his shirt and got involved in the rescue operation as soon as his father was taken away to a safe location, within the church premises.

“My focus was how I could save those who were still alive,” he said.

One of the persons Mr. Mboho said he helped rescue was Emmanuel Ekpenyong, the Chief Whip of the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly.

“The iron pillar had fallen on his leg. I had to rush to our bus for hydraulic jack which I used in lifting the iron (beam) before we could pull his leg out.

“He was in great pains and was screaming ‘My leg! My leg! My leg!’ while we were making effort to rescue him,” said Mr. Mboho.

Mr. Mboho, in the course of the interview, refuted the information being spread on the social media that the enthronement later took place at Abak on the same day of the incident.

“That is complete falsehood. There is no way my father or any person for that matter could have gone ahead with the enthronement after such a terrible incident,” he said.

The archbishop has remained downcast because of the incident, he said.

“He has been talking to God since yesterday, asking what could been the cause of this calamity.

“The incident is not about Reigners Bible Church. It is not about Akan Weeks. It is about God’s kingdom.

“Please let the church and everyone come together and support the victims’ families, the church and Akwa Ibom State,” Mr. Mboho said.

Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police in Akwa Ibom, Murtala Mani, on Sunday confirmed that 27 persons died, while 37 were injured in the church collapse.

A source said that the church choirmaster and his family were among those who lost their lives.

When reporters visited the church, Sunday afternoon, a large crowd of people gathered outside the church perimeter fence to have a look at the collapsed building.

The church gate remained locked. Some police officers were seen inside the premises.

Cars, said to belong to those who lost their lives in the incident, were seen parked around the church premises.

Update: At least, Fifty People dead as church building collapses in Akwa Ibom

Tragedy struck Saturday in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital when a church building belonging to Reigners Bible Church International, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, collapsed killing scores and wounded several others.

According to an eyewitness, the incident occurred at around 11am during a special service: “Bishopric Enthronement”, to mark the ordination of its resident pastor, Akan Weeks.

As at the time when the building collapsed, eyewitnesses say the church was filled to the brim and the incident occurred shortly after the offering session, a development that brought the event to an end.

Governor Udom Emmanuel alongside some of his commissioners who were billed to attend the function were on their way when the building collapsed.

When Sunday Nation visited the scene, the governor was seen helping in the rescue operation as many worshippers were trapped under the debris as rescue team evacuate the dead and those that were injured.

An eyewitness said: “This is a disaster. Why today? People have been rushed to hospital while many have been trapped under the structure.”

Security agents comprising men of the Nigeria Police Force: Nigerian Army; Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC and officials of the Federal Road a Safety Corps, FRSC, were seen condoling off the area to save the lives of those they were injured.

Also officials of the Red Cross were seen attending to some of the worshippers with minor injuries.

When contacted, the FRSC’s Spokesman in the state, Mr. Godsgift Uwen, said officials of the commission were currently at the scene of incident.

When asked the number of casualties resulting from the collapsed building, Uwen said he was not competent to speak on that but ordered Sunday Nation to get the reaction from the Police.

He said: “I am not competent to give you information on this matter for now. I will advise you call the Police Public Relations officer.”

Speaking on the development, the State’s Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Cordelia Nwawe, could not confirm the number of casualties.

She said: “This is a very unfortunate incident. The governor is safe. A lot of the people are safe. People have been rushed to the hospital. By evening, we will be able to talk about the number of casualties. We are here to ensure that hoodlums do not take over the place.”

JUST IN: Church building collapses in Akwa Ibom, many feared dead

A church building has collapsed in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, with many feared dead.

The Reigners Bible Church, located along Uyo Village Road, was filled to capacity because its pastor was being consecrated as a Bishop, when the tragedy occurred, witnesses said.

“Pastor Akan Week was being consecrated today so the programme was holding inside the Church when suddenly, the whole building collapsed,” one witness said.

The witness said the Church was being renovated and upgraded because of the expected high number of guests on Saturday.

“Many people are buried under the debris as emergency workers continue rescue exercise,” he said.

Governor Udom Emmanuel was expected to attend the occasion, but, sources said he was not at the church when it collapsed.

“The governor has gone to the scene and is presently there helping with the rescue,” a witness said.

Our sources said many victims have been taken to various hospitals and mortuaries in the town.

A source at one of the hospitals, Premier Hospital, said many of the injured were taken there and were receiving medical attention.

A police spokesperson who sounded emotional when contacted by phone, said she could not speak on the matter immediately.

“You need to be here to witness it, there is so much confusion,” she simply said.

More Pictures Below:

 

 

 

 

Three men jailed 22 months for stealing in church.

A Jos Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday sentenced three men to 22 months imprisonment for stealing from a church.

Magistrate Helen Danboyi convicted Mathew Daniel, 38; Monday Garba, 32; and Peter Chris, 38, of a three-count charge of conspiracy, theft and mischief, following their guilty plea.

Danboyi sentenced Daniel to four months jail term with an option of N1,000 fine; Garba, six months with an option of N1,500 fine; and Chris, the ring leader, 12 months with no fine option.

The prosecutor, Cpl. Yange Terzungwe, had told the court that the three men stole items valued at N281,360 from the Grace and Light Ministry in Dong Kasa.

He said that the crime took place on October 1.

According to him, the trio broke into the church auditorium through its burglary proof and stole a laptop worth N250,000, a telephone valued at N20,000; nine MTN recharge cards worth N750 each and a cash sum of N4,560.

He said that the offences were punishable under sections 97 and 345 of the Penal Code, Laws of Northern Nigeria.

Sultan 10th Anniversary: Kaduna Yoruba Community Holds Special Prayers In Church, Mosque

As part of activities to commemorate  the 10th years anniversary of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar  III, leadership of Yoruba Community in Northern States and Abuja has planned a special jumat and church prayers for the foremost Northern traditional leader in Kaduna.

A statement signed by Chairman of the Yoruba Council of Chiefs in the North and Abuja, Ambassador Mohammed Arigbabuwo and madeavailable to newsmen in Kaduna yesterday said the prayers is organized to thank Allah for His mercy on the President of the Islamic Council of Nigeria who has reached ten years on the throne of his ancestor.

The statement read in part “the leadership of Yoruba Community in Northern States and Abuja has planned a special anniversary of the Sultan of the of Sokoto, Alhaji (Dr) Sa’ad Abubakar the III to be held in Kaduna.

“The two religion prayers would serve as a contribution of the Yoruba Community to appreciate the fatherly role of Sultan whom is a pillar and leader who loves and respect every mankind.

“Since he ascended the throne, the nation has witnessed unity among all tribes and has made friends across the country.

“We also hailed the Sultan for the roles he had played in fostering unity, peace and love among all tribes, not only in his domain but across the nation”, the statement added.

Credit:

http://leadership.ng/news/557279/sultan-10th-anniversary-kaduna-yoruba-community-holds-special-prayers-in-church-mosque

Evangelist & Church Worshippers Kill Man With Stones In Ebonyi

The Ebonyi State Police Command has confirmed the murder of a man, Philip Ugwu, 60, by suspected worshipers following a land dispute in Afikpo Local Government Area.

The Public Relations Officer of the command, George Okafor, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Abakaliki on Monday that the incident occurred at Amebo-Ndebo village.

Mr. Okafor said that the matter was reported to the police on September 30 by the wife of the deceased, Abani Ugwu, adding that one Tochukwu Okoh, an evangelist, had been arrested in connection with the incident.
He said the deceased’s wife alleged that Mr. Okoh and three others attacked her husband with stones.

The officer also quoted the widow as saying that her husband who could not withstand the attack eventually became unconscious and was rushed to a hospital where he was confirmed dead.
He said that his body had been deposited in a mortuary and would undergo autopsy.

The spokesperson said the divisional police officer for the area led a team of detectives and anti-crime patrol officers to the scene and arrested the suspect.

“We are currently on the trail of other suspects and I am sure that they will soon be arrested due to the useful information at our disposal,” he said.
“We assure the public that the matter will be investigated thoroughly while the culprits will be duly prosecuted,” he said.

NAN learnt that the victim, popularly called Boxer or Coach, had argued with the worshippers in a new generation church over the Attention of a fence to demarcate their lands.

“We heard Boxer’s wife screaming that her husband had been attacked by some worshippers and before we could get to the scene, he was lying unconscious.

“He was immediately rushed to the hospital but his wife identified one of the attackers still with a stone who was immediately apprehended and handed over to the police.

“The victim’s wife explained that he had purchased and built on the parcel of land even before the church came to lay claim over it,” a witness who preferred anonymity said.

The witness said that the matter had previously been reported to the traditional council during which the head pastor of the church, still at large, was invited.

Pastor Commits Suicide After Sending Pictures Of His Penis To Church WhatsApp Group

A Pastor with Christ Embassy, Pastor Letsego, has committed suicide after he allegedly sent pictures of his penis to his church Whatsapp Group.

It was gathered that the married pastor who is based in South Africa mistakenly sent a picture of his penis meant for his alleged lover to his church whatsapp group.

The images were captioned: “Wife is away, it’s all yours tonight.”

He then realised his mistake after having hit the send button with congregants expressing shock and outrage over the mishap.

The Pastor reportedly left the group after he realised his mistake.

All calls put through to the pastor by congregants who expressed shock at such acts proved abortive.

The next day, he was found dead, hanging in his rented church house.

One of the pastor’s congregants, who pleaded anonymity said: “Pastor’s antics have always been a cause for concern, he was always seen in the company of one of the deacons named Miriam and we suspected there was more to their friendship than meets the eye.

“Quizzed by his wife and congregants, he would shrug off the allegations and say as a Pastor he was a father to everyone and Miriam was his favourite Daughter.”

According to Live Monitor, efforts made to get a comment from Christ Embassy Officials remains fruitless.

Disarm Herdsmen, Anglican Church Tells FG

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has called on the Federal Government to take urgent actions to “disarm all Fulani herdsmen ravaging the country.”

The church, which premised its demand on the need to stem the wave of attacks and killings of harmless farmers in the country, also called on the Christian Association of Nigeria to map out strategies to curb the killings of Christians in the country.

The position of the Anglican Church was contained in a communique on Sunday by Bishop Rev. Duke Akamisoko after the second session of the third synod held at St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral, Kubwa in Abuja.

The church expressed disappointment with the prevalent attacks on farming communities by the herdsmen in different parts of the country, stressing that the situation was inimical to Nigeria’s desire to promote agriculture.

Akamisoko said, “The Synod notes with dismay the prevalent attacks on farming communities by Fulani herdsmen in different parts of the country and demand that more decisive actions should be taken by the government to disarm the herdsmen to stem the rising wave of attacks and killings of harmless farmers as this is inimical to its desire to diversify our economy through agriculture.”

The cleric noted that while the church was trying to recover from the effect of the massive destruction of lives and property in the North-East by Boko Haram insurgents, the incessant killings of Christians, like the women killed in Kano and Kubwa, were worrisome.

The Bishop also called on the three arms of government to guard the constitutional provisions of freedom of worship and association.

Speaking on the government’s anti-corruption crusade, the church appreciated the efforts of the government, advising the anti-graft agencies to adopt a strategy that would cut across all arms and tiers of government, agencies and departments.

Akamisoko enjoined Nigerians to cooperate with the government for effective result.

Church Fined In London For Noise Offences At 3am Says It Wont Stop Because That’s When Demons Are Active

A church which has been fined for noise offences caused by their 3am services say, they won’t stop – because that’s the time when “demons are active”.

The Kingdom Church in Camberwell, south London, faced a fine of £7,740.50 earlier this month after residents nearby complained about sleepless nights.

But the church leader has insisted that the “loud preaching” and “amplified music” on Saturday
mornings will go on because of their “religious beliefs”.

Bishop Climate Irungu says that they have worked on solving noise issues by soundproofing with a new floor and ceiling.

The nighttime is “the time when we’re dealing with spiritual things, when the spiritual world is busy. That’s the time when demons are more active, when people are asleep, that’s when they will come,” Irungu said.

The 41-year-old, who heads up 400 churches worldwide,says people come from far and wide to be helped by the services at the Pentecostal Kingdom Church with their troubles including sickness, financial hardship and “demonic soul ties”.

He said that hate mail from atheists and “people like witches and Satanists” will be dealt with by God.

“I’m hoping that people who have been mocking us, people speaking bad things – God is going to deal with them.”

“Our 3am service has helped hundreds of people whom have all shared their testimony about what God has done for them,” he said.

Pastor Catches His Wife With Choirmaster In Hotel

Some marriages these days are worse than boyfriend and girlfriend relationship! A middle aged pastor in a new generation church in Asaba, Delta State, has revealed how he caught his own wife live having s*x with the choirmaster of his church. Just imagine the nonsense!

The pastor who spoke to the press in Asaba said that report of his wife dating the choirmaster had got to his ears but he was finding it difficult to believe until he eventually caught them live in the act.

Explaining that he has been married to her for 12 years without a child, the pastor said that the
adulterous lady he got married to had exposed him to public ridicule.

“I have been inundated with reports about my wife having s*x with the choirmaster, but I kept my ears to the ground until the fateful day I was called to a hotel around Ezeani Avenue, Asaba where I caught my wife pants down in the hotel room.

“I have been married to her in the last 12 years without a child, she has exposed me to the winds; people spread all kinds of rumours about me.”

He said that the choirmaster, on interrogation, admitted to the crime and begged for forgiveness.

It was gathered that the wife had been warned by the church members, who had earlier suspected that she was involved in an illicit relationship with the choirmaster.

The warnings fell on deaf ears as the love birds continued their s*xual relationship with pride.

A member of the church, Rosemary Iwoha, who once stumbled on the choirmaster and the pastor’s wife in the church neck deep kissing, said, “I met them kissing one day and I reported to our Daddy about it.”

The pastor said the adulterous wife has left his house and necessary action would be taken against her.

Pope Says Church Does Not Want ‘Dirty Money’

The Catholic Church does not want people to donate “dirty money” earned by abusing low-paid workers, Pope Francis said on Wednesday.

“Some donors come to the Church offering profits from the blood of people who have been exploited, mistreated, enslaved with badly paid work,” Francis said during his regular weekly audience with pilgrims at the Vatican.

“I will say to them: ‘Please take your money away, burn it’,” said Francis, who has made safeguarding the poor and cleaning up Vatican finances central tenets of his papacy.

“The people of God… do not need dirty money, they need hearts that are open to God’s mercy,” he said.

The pope has branded money “the dung of the devil” and condemned the evils of unbridled capitalism, prompting criticism from some U.S. business leaders.

Francis has increased the power of the Vatican’s financial intelligence authority (AIF) but the European finance watchdog Moneyval said last year the Holy See still needed to be much more aggressive in prosecuting financial crimes.

Credit: Yahoo

91-Year-Old Retired Director Of CBN Kidnapped In Church

Members of St, Micheal’s Anglican Church, Emevor, Isoko North local Government Area of Delta State were left stunned when unidentified gunmen stormed the church premises in an ash-coloured Passat car and forced the retired Director, Foreign Operations, Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Chief Joseph Ogedegbe to enter into their waiting vehicle as the elderly man was alighting from his vehicle

They speed off immediately without waiting for a second. Efforts are on to rescue him.

Church Members Arrested During Service For Noise Pollution

The police in Lagos have arrested six persons for allegedly disturbing the peace of residents of Olaomibiyi Street, Ogba, during a church service.

 

 

The members – Ngozichukwu Onyebuchi (44), Clement Eromosele (26), Chukwudi Akwegbu (26), Chibuzor Chukwu (18), Godspower Enudi (21) and Okorie Livonus (36) – were arraigned in a Lagos Magistrate’s Court sitting in Ogba.

 

They were accused of converting a residential apartment to a church.

 

It was learnt that the landlord and residents of the building where the defendants gathered to worship had complained that the congregation caused noise pollution whenever they prayed.

They were said to have cautioned the worshippers to lower their voices, but the members reportedly declined.

 

The church was reported to the police at the Pen Cinema division, who arrested the six members on January 14 during Sunday service, while the others were said to be at large.

 

They were brought before a Chief Magistrate, Mrs. T. Akanni, on two counts of engaging in a conduct capable of causing a breach of the peace.

 

The offence, according to a police prosecutor, Inspector Clifford Ogu, is punishable under sections 410 and 166 (1) (d) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, Nigeria, 2011.

 

The charges read, “That you, Ngozichukwu Onyebuchi, Clement Eromosele, Chukwudi Akwegbu, Chibuzor Chukwu, Godspower Enudi and Okorie Livonus, and others still at large on Olaomibiyi Street, Ogba, Lagos, on January 14, 2016, at about 8am in the Lagos Magisterial District, did conspire to commit felony to wit: conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace.

 

“That you and others still at large on the same date, time and place, in the aforementioned magisterial district, did unlawfully convert the residential apartment of the aforementioned house to a church and disturb peace of the landlord and other tenants as you were praying on top of your voice, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 166 (1) (d) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, Nigeria, 2011.”

 

 

The accused, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges and elected summary trial.

 

The presiding magistrate, Akanni, admitted them to bail in the sum of N50,000 each with two sureties each in like sum. The magistrate added that the sureties must provide evidence of tax payments and their residential addresses to the court for the perfection of the defendants’ bail.

 

 

The case was adjourned till February 15, 2016, for mention.

 

 

Credit : Punch

APC Alleges Manipulation In Fr Mbaka’s Transfer

The south-east geopolitical zone of the All Progressives Congress, APC, yesterday, expressed displeasure over the traditional routine transfer of fiery Enugu-based Catholic priest,Fr. Ejike Mbaka, alleging that unseen hands acted on Bishop Callistus Onaga’s discretion that culminated in the decision.

Mbaka-Buhari
Mbaka-Buhari

Fr. Mbaka was affected in the routine transfer of over 1,000 priests in the Catholic Diocese of Enugu with effect from January 30, which saw him leave Christ the King,CKP, GRA, where he had been the Parish Priest for over a decade to Our Lady Parish Emene.

The cleric had in nostalgic remark while leaving the CKP premises for Our Lady Parish Emene, last Saturday lamented that,”this is a calculated move to make me suffer by a certain leader of the church. I know we are going to suffer within now and few months to come. I am going to suffer and suffer; I know that. I’m going to suffer because I have no place to put my head. I am going to suffer because I have no place to keep the Adoration ministry’s assets. I know I’m going to suffer.”

While reacting to Fr. Mbaka’s predicament, spokesperson, South-East APC Caucus, Osita Okechukwu said:”Whereas we accept that the transfer of priests is a routine exercise of the great Catholic Church; however, we do not wholly accept a situation where the church allows external forces to influence transfer as Mbaka’s case suggests. Otherwise, future liberation clergy who speak the truth will be punished to the detriment of the society.

“Our major concern is the security implications and the fate of his flocks who are mostly the down trodden who may find it difficult to go to Emene for salvation and healing. We frown at anything which will put Fr. Mbaka in harms way or deny his flocks healing.

“As a party, we have watched with concern and trepidation the criticism, the attack, assault and unpleasant comments hurled against Fr. Mbaka since he providentially prophesied that President Buhari would win the 2015 elections. Even the church did not spare him; he was called unprintable names, yet his prophecy came true. We are happy that Fr Mbaka was vindicated.”

“It must be pointed out that accusing fingers were pointed at the direction of some anti-Buhari elements like Ohanaeze Ndigbo, a group that didn’t want to hear the name of Buhari; even though Ohanaeze denied the allegation, doubts still persists. For we are still at a loss why a senior priest will be degraded to an assistant parish priest.”

“We repeat that we are in solidarity with Fr. Mbaka and our major concern is the security of Fr. Mbaka and the suffering of his flocks mostly the poor who need his healing powers. We had thought that His Lordship Bishop Calistus Onaga could have retained him at the Adoration Ground, as the Bishop Emeritus Gbuji did because of security of his life and easy access by his flocks”.

Vatican: Iran Must join Fight Against Terrorism

Pope Francis held talks with Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, at the Vatican Tuesday, calling on Tehran to play a key role in stopping the spread of terrorism as Iran tries to improve its image in the global arena following an agreement on its nuclear program.
Hassan Rouhani made the first state visit to Europe by an Iranian president in almost two decades this week, following the lifting of sanctions against his country.

The pontiff warmly clasped the hand of President Hassan Rouhani in the first official call paid on a pontiff by an Iranian president since 1999. They held 40 minutes of private talks before Rouhani met with other top Vatican officials.

The talks “delved into the conclusion and application of the nuclear accord, and the important role that Iran is called upon to play, together with other countries of the region, was highlighted,” the Holy See said.

It added that that role should “foster adequate political solutions to the issues plaguing the Middle East, fighting the spread of terrorism and arms trafficking.”
The “cordial” talks also stressed common spiritual values, the statement said.

Usually it’s the pope who asks his audience to pray for him. This time, after the two men spoke with the help of Italian and Farsi language translators, it was the guest who asked the pope for prayers. “I ask you to pray for me,” Rouhani said.

The Vatican meeting was a key part of the Iranian effort to take a more prominent place on the world stage after the nuclear deal with Western powers.

Iran, which agreed to limit its nuclear activities in exchange for an end to economic sanctions, is eager to carve out a bigger role in mediating Middle East conflicts. Francis’ papacy has emphasized mediation and conflict-resolution, including his role in helping Cuba and the United States to normalize their relations.

Rouhani heads to France today on his four-day European trip seeking to boost Iran’s image abroad as well as to rehabilitate economic ties with a continent that had been a big trade partner before the sanctions.

Francis gave Rouhani a medal depicting St. Martin giving his cloak to a poor man in the cold, describing the saint’s act as “a sign of unsolicited brotherhood.”
Rouhani brought a gift of a hand-made rug that he said was made in the Iranian holy city of Qom.

Before going to the Vatican, Rouhani told a forum of business leaders in Rome that “Iran is the safest and most stable country of the entire region.”
Italy also sees Iran as a potential peacemaker in Syria’s civil war, as the Italian government fears the warfare will further destabilize Libya — just across the Mediterranean from southern Italy — fuel terrorism and jeopardize energy security.

“Italy has always backed the role of Iran as a regional player in resolving tensions in the area, starting with the Syrian crisis,” Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said after meeting his Iranian counterpart, according to his office.

Rouhani has described the political talks leading to the nuclear deal as a potential blueprint for pursuing peace in the Middle East.

Corps Member Slumps And Dies In Church While Leading Choir

A 29-old-youth corper, Mr Excellent Okpako Akevwighome, recently slummed and died while leading a choir ministration in his church, Christ Gospel Church, in Edjeketa community, Ethiope West Local Government Area of Delta State.

 
The graduate of Accountancy from Anwai campus of the Delta State University was said to have browsed with his handset for about an hour on the eve of his death before heading to the church for a night vigil where he was said to be a choir master.

 
He was said to have slummed and died almost immediately midway into the vigil while leading the choristers in a song.
An eye witness said when he fell, he was thought to be under the influence of Holy Spirit, but after waiting for about 20 minutes and he was not getting up, some of the choristers tried to help him up only to find out that he was already dead, at exactly 11.30pm of that day.

 
The Pastor of the church, Pastor Peter Akpovwera, expressed shock at the incident, saying “the brother was a faithful worshipper but lost his life to the cold hand of death even in the church.”

 
His younger brother, Mr Godday Akevwighome, said the victim was serving in Anambra state as at the time of his untimely death.

Fan Calls Out Bishop TD Jakes for Wearing Ripped Jeans to the Altar; Bishop Replies

Bishop TD Jakes was in church yesterday in this ripped jeans.

Only for a ‘concerned’ fan to lash out at him, after Bishop posted the photos on Instagram, that he is supposed to be leading by example and not wearing ripped jeans to the altar as it is worldly. Do you see anything wrong with Bishop Jakes’ attire? He replied the fan though. See it below:

Police Nabs Pastor Over Charm Buried In Church Premises

The police in Benin arrested one Apostle Ikenna Okafor on Sunday for allegedly burying charm in his church premises in Benin.

 

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the identity of what the suspect buried was unknown even though residents around the church located along Esigie St. in Benin alleged it was a live animal.

 

The police took away the suspect to avoid being lynched by angry residents who stormed the church.

 

An eyewitness, Mr Chinedu Nnamdi, said his father woke him up around 2 a.m. on Saturday night to watch what the Pastor was doing.

 

According to him, the pastor buried something in front of the church and later performed a little ritual by walking round the church several times.

 

Confirming the report, the Police Public Relations Officer of the Edo Police Command, DSP Osifo Abiodun, said the suspect was under investigation.

 

The spokesman explained that the suspect has made useful statements that will assist the police in their investigation.

 

 

(NAN)

See The Church Where Bible Is Not Used and The Oba Of Benin Is The General Overseer

On Akpakpava Road in the heart of Benin City, the Edo State capital, is a church founded over 500 years ago. The architectural design of the building tells its story. It does not advertise itself; yet has a large following. The Oba of Benin is its spiritual head, reports Osagie Otabor.

The Holy Aruosa Cathedral is to the Bini people what the Church of England is to the English people; no wonder it is referred to as the Church of Benin.

Welcome to the Holy Aruosa (the eye of God) Cathedral.

Members of the Holy Arousa are different from flocks of other religious bodies: they are seldom seen sharing pamphlets to convert members or inviting people to the church. The church leaders do not hold crusades or revival services to convert ‘souls’, neither do they invite people to experience miracles.

Legend has it that the church was located at the place because it was the spot the Bini had direct contact with Osanobua (God) long before the coming of the European explorers and missionaries.

During the British invasion of Benin Kingdom, the church was destroyed and the black stone was carted away along with other artifacts from the ancient city at about 1897. The invaders came with their own God, mode of worship and forbade the people from worshipping Osanobua at Holy Arousa.

It was Oba Akenzua II (father of the present monarch) who rebuilt the current cathedral, not only in Benin City, but in Onitsha, Umuahia and other areas.

The Oba of Benin is the spiritual head (general overseer) of the Church. His deputy is the Benin Crown Prince. The presiding head of the church is known as ‘Ohen Osa’ (God’s servant). A special seat is reserved for the Oba at the church. The priests dress like the Roman Catholic priests and usually wear red caps.

Service at the church is conducted in Bini language. The Holy Bible is not used in the church; much of the preaching revolves around reminding the congregation that the Oba is God’s representative on earth and on the need to be good while on earth. Baptism of new converts is done with the white chalk (Orhue) in what is regarded as ‘Igborhe’.

Does miracle happen in the church? Ohen Osa Harrison Okao said people received miracles and God’s blessings directly from God without any intermediary.

He said: “Those who seek God come here. We don’t beg people to come. If you attend and discover that your contact with God is cordial, you will remain. If you beg God for promotion and you come here and got it, you will remain here.”

Harrison said the church was founded during the reign of Oba Esigie and to worship God without praying through any intermediary.

He said: “We use our local language to communicate with our God. We are aware of other diverse ways of reaching God. If you are a good Muslim, God will accept you. If you are a good Christian, God will accept you.

“We don’t use the Bible here. We have our own book. We use the book of Holy Arousa according to the sayings of the ancient belief written by the wise men. The church is still in existence till today, it is an entity that will last forever. Nothing can stop it.”

“A professional doctor does not need sign board. Oba is a special human being. He is God’s representative on earth. The seat that concerns Omon N’ Oba, nobody can sit on it. That seat is exclusively preserved for him.”

The Nation

For Kneeling Down In Church: Ooni Tells Critics ‘No King On Earth Is Above God’

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi(Ojaja II) has berated those criticising him for kneeling in church to worship God, saying that “no King on Earth is above God”

 
A picture showing the monarch kneeling down during the installation thanksgiving held at St Paul’s Anglican, Ile Ife, on Sunday, December 13th, had gone viral on internet, attracting diverse comments.

While many that commented on the picture saw no wrong in the action of the newly installed monarch, many were of the view that the act desecrated the revered stool of Ooni.
The week-long coronation activities for the Ooni climaxed with a thanksgiving service on Sunday 13th December 2015, at St Paul’s Anglican Church, Ile-Ife.

 
But in a statement signed by the Director of Communication and Public Affairs, Ooni’s Palace, Ile-Ife, Moses Olafare, the Ooni said it is an unacceptable sacrilege to equate Ooni’risa or any other king to the almighty God.

 
His words: “God is the creator of mankind and it is God who made it possible for the enthronement of any king.

 
“The ILE OODUA has been drawn to a publication released Wednesday 16th 2015 by an online medium known as NEWSPUNCH in which His Imperial Majesty, Ooni’risa & Arole Oodua Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi (Ojaja II) was criticized for bowing to God.

 
“God remains the highest KING OF KINGS who has kept all Kings alive and had made it possible for me to be crowned as the a King of the source of Yoruba civilisation.

 
“I have no regret whatsoever for kneeling down to exalt the almighty God who did not only create me, but also kept me alive, saw me through all the storms in m life-journey and eventually crowned me as the Custodian of Oodua Race.

 
“This act of equating me to God of Gods, King of Kings and the sole owner of the universe is a wicked sacrilege planned to embarrass the the throne.

 
“My emergence as Oba has been made possible only by the almighty Olodumare to whom I remain eternally grateful” the Ooni said.

 

 

Credit : Vanguard

Husband Storms Church, Demands Money Wife Paid As Tithe

An angry husband stormed a church service demanding his Sh200,000 loan that his wife gave as tithe for prayers against demons in a local church last Sunday.

Mr. Geoffrey Odhiambo said his wife took the money, for which a bank used his car as collateral, and gave it to the church, without his consent.According to the  wife,she gave the money as “tithe for prayers as there were evil spirits and devils in her house”.

An eyewitness, Lawrence Odengo said Mr. Geoffrey complained it was not the first time his wife had taken money to ‘Jesus Elevation Tabernacle’ located in the Kisumu CBD, Kenya.

It took male ushers more than 10 minutes to eject Mr. Geoffrey from the midday service moments before the APs Quick Response Team arrived. He reported the matter at Kisumu Central police station.

Members of the public, who had glimpse of the drama at the place of worship they termed a “Pastor Kanyari church”, demanded its closure.

Daily Post Kenya

Church Aborts Couple’s Wedding Over Groom’s Refusal To Remove His Designer Shoes

What was planned as a day of joyful union between a couple (names withheld) weekend turned awry as the spiritual leader of a fast growing miracle church in Benin City, Edo State capital declined to wed a couple following the refusal of the groom to pull his Italian designer shoes before entry into the church.

Worshippers, friends, family members and well-wishers who stormed the church were disappointed as the groom, who claimed he bought his shoes for N50,000, was adamant as he shunned pleas from his bride to comply with the rules of the church.

According to a source in the know, the church is reputed for miracles which have led to the influx of
new converts from residents in the vicinity. It was learnt that the groom’s who was expected to prevail on the groom shunned all effort to ensure that the wedding took place.

Meanwhile, as the drama raged, guests and well-wishers who were seated under the canopies for reception at the same venue were lavishly entertained by hired caterers as the confusion between the church’s overseer and the couple.

The beautiful bride who refused to be consoled over the incident wept profusely before church members, and the groom soon followed as tears freely ran down his cheeks.

A senior pastor in the church who does not want his name in print said: “It is quite unfortunate that the groom is adamant.

“We expected that the bride who is our member must have educated him enough.
It is not new among our members.
Politicians, business moguls who often visit comply with our ways of worship and I must say that what we do here is divine and biblical.”

450 Year Old Church Emerges From Reservoir After Water Levels Drop

Due to a drought in southern Mexico, water levels have dropped so much that a 450-year-old church looks as if it has risen from the ground.

The water levels around the abandoned 16th Century church in Chiapas are so low that the place of worship is now visible above the water.

The church known as The Temple of Santiago or The Temple of Quechula, disappeared beneath 100 feet of water after a dam was erected in the late 60s to make the Nezahualcoyotl reservoir.

Now, the levels have dropped by 80 feet.

Tours of the church are now being given by local fisherman that brings people around by boat. The church looks like a floating island in the water.

Credit: InsideEdition

Man Breaks Into Church, Does The Unthinkable On Altar

Police are searching for a man who broke into a Massachusetts church, donned the priest’s robes and committed a lewd act at the altar.

Surveillance footage released by Cambridge police shows the identified man inside St. Sava Serbian Church after he entered through an unlocked door around 3:15 a.m. on September 29.

Police say he put on priest’s clothing and then walked around the empty church for about 45 minutes before stripping down and performing “a lewd, sexual act on the altar of the church.”

The incident was discovered when the church’s priest, Alexander Vlajkovic, reviewed surveillance video. Church members say the man also left behind a mess of soda and wine.

“There’s a strong sense of violation throughout the community,” Church Board President Alexander Pogorzelski told Fox25. “We had to perform a consecration before we could perform another liturgy because of the desecration.”

The church is now keeping its doors locked between services.

Read More: InsideEdition

Obiageli Ezekwesili: The Role Of The Church In Nation Building

I am delighted at the privilege of being asked by the leadership of FOURSQUARE Church to deliver this Diamond Lecture in celebration of sixtieth year of the Church in Nigeria. Let me specially thank Reverend Felix Meduoye,  The General Overseer of FOURSQUARE for the honour he bestows on me whenever he asks me to speak to his congregation of fellow believers in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Please accept my congratulations for the Diamond celebration which is happening under your inspiring and visionary leadership. I wish to also thank a dear brother, Femi Adesina who pressed on until my very swampy schedule opened up to enable me fulfil the promise I made several months ago when I could not be with you at a similar event in Lagos. Speaker of our House of Representatives-  Honourable Yakubu Dogara, delighted to have you chair this event. Other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, thanks for being here today to listen to this lecture.
 
The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, commonly referred to as the Foursquare Church, is a Pentecostal denomination founded in 1923 by one of the historically outstanding female preachers — Aimee Semple McPherson in Los Angeles, United States of America. She it was who described the basis for the naming of the Church from the revelation of Prophet Ezekiel as recorded in the Bible depicting the four faces of God that he ( the prophet) had seen. Pastor Aimee McPherson elaborated this even further stating that the four faces “were like the four phases of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the face of the man, she saw Jesus our Saviour. In the face of the lion, she saw Jesus the mighty Baptiser with the Holy Spirit and fire. In the face of the ox, she saw Jesus the Great Burden-Bearer, who took our infirmities and carried our sicknesses. In the face of the eagle, she saw Jesus the Coming King, who will return in power and victory for the church. It was a perfect, complete Gospel. It was a Gospel that faces squarely in every direction; it was the “Foursquare Gospel.”
 
The church propounds that its call is to preach Jesus Christ, God’s Son, as The Savior, The Baptizer, The Healer and The Coming King. In so doing, it seeks to glorify God, advance the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus as it undertakes His Great Commission of preaching the gospel and making disciples of all nations. Over the ninety two years of existence, the Four Square has experienced successions which have helped with its growth into a world wide church. Today, the Foursquare Church has more than 1,700 U.S. churches and more than 66,000 churches globally and meeting places in 140 countries and territories.
 
Nigeria is one of those several countries in which FourSquare has flourished since the Reverend and Mrs. Harold Curtis first brought the message of Four Square to our country in 1955 to three founding members Reverend James Boyejo, Rev. Samuel Olusegun Odunaike and Rev. Friday Chinyere Osuwa. The year of the inauguration of the first FourSquare Church is remarkable seeing that it was just five years before Nigeria gained her independence. The Nigerian branch of the Church has since spread in prolific growth not just across the entire country but also across the continent of Africa. The FourSquare Church is according to data considered one of the largest Pentecostal churches in Nigeria.
 
BIBLICAL CONTEXT FOR CHURCH.
 
The Bible documents  the spoken words of God to His people, written to shape the sacred beliefs of those who were first called Christians because their observers declared that “they had been with Christ” as they scrutinised their conducts in the city of Antioch.  So, it is natural for most people to assume that Church when defined as “organised gathering of people as a group and under some clear leadership” is a phenomenon only of the New Testament. The reality however, is that the Church evolved from the Old Testament into the New Testament in the form we know it today. It can be said that Church started in the Garden of Eden where God used to come down to fellowship with the first man that He had created- Adam; but that ‘gathering’ was interrupted by sin. The fall of Adam and Eve, aborted the awesome plan of God for humanity as expressed in Genesis. God subsequently made several other provisions, ranging from Noah to Abraham, to Joseph, to Moses, to Joshua, to Deborah, to Eli, to Samuel, to Elijah, Elisha and several other priests and prophets that were to “gather” God’s people regularly in harmonious fellowship with Him.
 
The New Testament church as recorded in Acts2 started at the Pentecost in the Upper Room led by the twelve Apostles of Christ and the many other believers in His teachings who gathered in fellowship after His death and resurrection. This piece of scripture  aptly captures this classic definition of the Church in its characteristic attributes.  Acts 2:42-47 records:
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
 
The definition of Church as an “assembled group of people who met regularly under an organised leadership” places the emphasis on the human beings and why they gather much more than the building in which they do so. It is perhaps for this reason that Apostle Paul counsels the Hebrews to “not forsake the assembly of the brethren” making it all about relationship rather than a visit to a location. It is the people in fellowship with God and among themselves  more than where they gather that makes a gathering  of faithful followers of Christ, a Church of the modern ages.  The Early Church of the Acts of Apostles  still remains the model by which any gathering of people as Church is measured in terms of their relationship with God and with fellow believers and non-believers.
 
When we read and observe the journey of the children of Israel as the ” The Old Testament Church” making their  way to the the Promise Land, we are awed at the similarity their gathering has with the New Testament church. Reviewing both the old and New testaments of the Bible to understand the concept of Church better, one cannot but remember the roles of certain prophets of God as they led the children of God to the land of promise. The priests and the prophets who ministered in the temple were no different from our Pastors in churches today with a congregation of human beings that are no different from the flawed men and women of that era; who were merely beneficiaries of God’s  grace.
 
In effect, church may have evolved from Old Testament tents of meeting, to temples and synagogues into the Upper House, peoples’ houses and then elegant church buildings; but the unchanging Owner of the Purpose  of every gathering of His people remains steadfast in what He wants from His people. Even as they journeyed through the wilderness as  His “…… treasured possession out of all the peoples” what He expected was that they “. . . shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.” With the favoured admission of those who were formerly Gentiles through the redemptive grace of Christ, Apostle Peter still declares in striking continuity in the New Testament: ” But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” The people of God are created to be exemplary to all others. Simple.
 
In the Old Testament, Micah 6: 8 the prophet Micah asks, “What does the Lord require of you?” And answers, “To do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.” Apostle Paul speaks similarly in the New Testament in Ephesians 4: 1 says “To the church at Ephesus Paul writes, “I beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling.” Whatever may be the purpose that the people of God gather; if they be followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ; who believe in the power of the Holy Spirit; there is but one common denominator for both the Old Testament and the New Testament congregations. It is Holiness. There cannot be a “gathering” or “fellowship” of the people of God with God, without Holiness. In Leviticus 19v1-2, He repeated that same charge of Holiness which He had made to Abraham when He promised to make him “blessed to be a blessing” in Genesis. Without Holiness, God cannot be in the midst of those who have gathered to qualify it for His own definition of the Church that “the gate of hell cannot prevail against”.
 
The manifestation of the working of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament Church differentiates it from the Old Testament church. The Spirit of God brought great liberty to the individual who having confessed Jesus Christ as Lord is spoken of by our Lord as “being greater than the Great John the Baptist even if such a one were the least in the kingdom.  The importance of this is best appreciated as one reads the assessment that God made of the Churches in Revelations2-3 where it is the Spirit of God that is expressly talking to the Church via the revelation experience of John the Beloved, an Apostle of Christ. This is unlike in the days of old when God would speak to the Prophet or Priest who would in turn carry the message to the rest of the people.
 
 
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH IN NIGERIA
 
History records that the Church in Nigeria is some 172 years old having started with the Catholic priests who were part of the Portuguese trade incursion into the coastlands of Nigeria. It was only after some hiatus, that there was the arrival of a more sustained missionary exploits of the Methodist Missionary Society in 1842 pioneered by the works of Thomas Birch Freeman. The Christian Missionary Society followed suit later that same year with the visit of Henry Townsend from Sierra Leone. Some years later the Catholic Irish missionaries arrived and much later down the line, Nigerians saw the emergence of indigenous churches that interpreted the Christian experience to have local relevance. Churches such as the Aladura movement in Western Nigeria, the Apostolic movement, the Evangelical, Charismatic and Pentecostal movements were founded and thus the Church in Nigeria was fully formed as an organizational concept coincident with the era of independence. For example, the Redeemed Christian Church of God a mission in which my husband and I had the privilege of joining in the early 90s from our Anglican/Catholic backgrounds; is an indigenous Pentecostal/Evangelical church founded by Pa. Josiah Akindayomi sixty three years ago.
 
Each denomination of the Church in Nigeria flourished in  numerical growth and in an environment of relative religious freedom and constitutionally guaranteed secularity of governance, they individually carried on with their respective missions without the need for any collective structure. However, they did when during the military rule of General Ibrahim Babaginda, the Church in Nigeria collectively felt the threat resulting from that government’s signing up Nigeria as a member of the Organisation of Islamic Countries. The churches came together under the umbrella of the  Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in 1976. Today, CAN is constituted by Churches under five groupings that are the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, The Christian Council of Nigeria, the Christian Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria/Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, the Organisation of African Independent Churches and Tarrayar Ekelesioyoyin Kristi. The Christian Association of Nigeria enunciates the following objectives:
  • to serve as a basis of [action for] the unity of the Church, especially as [intended] in our Lord’s pastoral prayer: ‘That they all may be one’
  • to act as a liaison committee, by means of which its member churches can consult together and, when necessary, make common statements and take common action
  • to be a watch-dog of the spiritual and moral welfare [of] the nation
  • to propagate the Gospel
  • to promote understanding among the various people and strata of society in Nigeria.
A critical analysis of the role that the Church has played in the nation along the lines of living up to its objectives of Unity of faith and collective action; its spiritual and moral watchdog of the nation objective; its promotion of understanding and peaceful relationship objective; is highly recommended for not just CAN but for all church leaders and their denominations. Any such objective assessment will reveal the deficit in acting to realize these lofty vision of CAN. Whereas it has done relatively well in some aspects of its vision, the association of Christians has a long journey to being the mega rallying point of Christians as the light that we are called to be for the Nigerian society.
 
WHAT IS NATION BUILDING? 
Nation building in its simple definition refers to the use of the power of the state to construct or structure a national identity. Nation building is especially used in relation to countries in Africa and Central Europe where territorial habitation of people forces disparate nationalities to belong to a country and yet feel no common sense of shared identity among themselves. So, in basic terms, one could say that nation building aims to unify diverse people of ethnic, religious and other pluralities who have found themselves living together in a globally recognised entity known as a United Nations member country. The process of attempting to unify  the diverse nationalities within a territorial construction to make it politically stable and viable, is something that would resonate for all Nigerians-North, South, East and West-  seeing how so much it describes our story in the 101 years of amalgamation and 54 years of independence of our country.
 
“Today is Independence Day. The first of October 1960 is a date to which for two years, Nigeria has been eagerly looking forward. At last, our great day has arrived, and Nigeria is now indeed an independent Sovereign nation.  Words cannot adequately express my joy and pride at being the Nigerian citizen privileged to accept from Her Royal Highness these Constitutional Instruments which are the symbols of Nigeria’s Independence. It is a unique privilege which I shall remember forever, and it gives me strength and courage as I dedicate my life to the service of our country. This is a wonderful day, and it is all the more wonderful because we have awaited it with increasing impatience, compelled to watch one country after another overtaking us on the road when we had so nearly reached our goal. But now, we have acquired our rightful status, and I feel sure that history will show that the building of our nation proceeded at the wisest pace: it has been thorough, and Nigeria now stands well-built upon firm foundations.”
The very gushing and giddy words of this quote were by the first Prime Minister of Nigeria Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa on October 1, 1960.
 
Sadly,  the reality of our trajectory as a country is that we never transited from country to nation contrary to the poetic declarations of our first leader. To call a spade a spade, our nation building process has been extremely dismal in outcome and so fifty four years after, we are at the Diamond event of FourSquare Church which is only five years older than independent Nigeria; still discussing matters of “Nation Building.” Our Founding Nationalists, simply equated our becoming a country with attaining nationhood. Our founding leaders forgot  that a State- i.e. A country-  is not always a Nation . True, Nigeria became a self-governing political entity that negotiated a federal structure in cognizance of the near autonomy of each of its constituent ethnic nationalities. The painful fact however is that our independent Nigeria does not yet act like a Nation after five decades. The inability to achieve the consensus necessary for nation building has robbed us of the fundamentals of shared identity, vision and values known as “nation formations”. Research proves that these fundamentals  are what have helped other countries in similar circumstances as Nigeria to transit into the more progressive concept of “State Building”. It is after Nation Building that the phase of State Building commences with a focus on building the social, human and physical infrastructure as well as the critical institution. It is the State Building process that progresses a territory of unified people into citizens of an economically, socially and politically viable nation-state through what is known as a “Capable State”.
 
Countries with multiple divides do not just melt into one happy union. It requires deliberation and intentionality for diverse people with divergent interests, threats, opportunities and strengths to forge a common and shared framework for lasting unity of purpose. In some of the instances where this has happened either through wars and or dialogues/negotiations or their combination , it had required the elite of such countries to lead the rest of the people in a deliberative process of nation building. Nation building agenda envisions the forging of a  common identity that all have resolved to defend at all time with clear mechanisms for conflict resolution. For countries like South Africa and more recently Kenya, they adopted a people- led constitutional process as their pathway to nation building. It is the visionary power of the elite to move a people of diversity beyond the lowest common denominator of being mere citizens of one country into a “nation of diverse people”. It is what  makes the United States to stand out as a “model” multi-cultural society. Hence, even “with its multicultural society, the United States is also referred to as a nation-state because of the shared American “culture” and “identity”.
 
Some people may of course dismiss this crave for evolution from country into a nation and say it does not matter. For those ones, I recall the wise words Carolyn Stephenson, who is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Hawaii-Manoa. She could have premised her thesis specially for Nigeria. Professor Stephenson states that “ Nation-building matters to intractable conflict because of the theory that a strong state is necessary in order to provide security;  that the building of an integrated national community is important in the building of a state, and that there may be social and economic prerequisites or co-requisites to the building of an integrated national community” Simply put, if a people of diversity in a country truly wish to succeed, they must forge a shared identity, vision and values to realise their goal of building a strong, secure and viable nation- state.
 
 
THE PAST, THE PRESENT OF THE CHURCH IN NIGERIA AND THE NIGERIAN CONDITION. CAN THE CHURCH IN BECOME THE CATALYST FOR A NEW NIGERIA? 
 
That failure to immediately use the early days of independence to commence the nation building process is what I consider the biggest missed opportunity in the history of Nigeria. So, it was not surprising that shortly after the novelty of our political independence wore off, the troubling underbelly of our nascent 1959/60 democracy was revealed in the rather prescient reading of the situation at that time by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)  of the United States in a memorandum of 1966.  The CIA wrote thus:  “Africa’s most populous country (population estimated at 48 million) is in the throes of a highly complex internal crisis rooted in its artificial origin as a British dependency containing over 250 diverse and often antagonistic tribal groups. The present crisis started” with Nigerian independence in 1960, but the federated parliament hid “serious internal strains. It has been in an acute stage since last January when a military coup d’état destroyed the constitutional regime bequeathed by the British and upset the underlying tribal and regional power relationships. At stake now are the most fundamental questions which can be raised about a country, beginning with whether it will survive as a single viable entity. The situation is uncertain, with Nigeria,……is sliding downhill faster and faster, with less and less chance for unity and stability. Unless present army leaders and contending tribal elements soon reach agreement on a new basis for association and take some effective measures to halt a seriously deteriorating security situation, there will be increasing internal turmoil, possibly including civil war”. Does this not sound familiar to Nigerians of all ages?
 
The question anyone reading this should ask in the context of our topic is, “where was the Church in Nigeria at the time these lethal strains that became entrenched even up until today,  were brewing? How could the Church have been irrelevant in the foundational work of unifying diverse aspirations by woefully failing to influence the individual actors of that era considering that many of them wore and do in fact continue to wear their ecclesiastic garment as boldly as they wore and wear their ethnic cleavages? Even if the other end of the dialogue was the mostly Muslim North, could there not have been a way that the church would have helped to prevent the needless deaths that started and degenerated into a pogrom, claiming the largest number of our people in the civil war that predictably occurred?”
 
In a similar situation in Rwanda, the Church has had to face the scrutiny of its failings or even its complicity in the genocide that almost wiped out an entire ethnic race. I do not recall that the Church in Nigeria has reviewed or has been compelled to review its role in the 60s multiple tragedies of our country. The satanic seed of deep ethnic distrust, mistrust and hostility were sown unchallenged in that era. It pervades the Nigerian society today, engulfing all generations in their relationships. It also explains why other ethnic groups often withhold  empathy from any other of the groups which is faced with challenges at any given time.
 
Nigerians engage in what I call “equal opportunity suffering”. Not having received empathy in their time of pain, they see no reason to empathize when it is the “turn” of another ethnic group to suffer their “own pain”. Nothing is more revealing of the absence of the spirit of nationhood as this inability to rise beyond ethnic trenches and show humanness to another group, regardless of past hurts. What one has known from advocating for our abducted 219 Chibok School girls and the North East more broadly, reveals extremely deep divides that should not exist, were the Church in Nigeria living up to its Reconciliatory role.  Unfortunately, the Church is very woven into the fabric of inter and intra ethnic suspicions and conflicts. Such conflicts have become very common within the Christian fold in Nigeria, thereby robbing it of the moral pedestal it must have in order to play the role of reconciliation in a country where conflicts easily erupt and escalate unnecessarily.
 
I dare say that our protracted  failure to build a nation out of a country is what changed the course of Nigeria’s history and squandered the huge benefits that empirical research shows is possible for diverse societies. That our political elite could not speedily and “sincerely act” on the lofty ideals espoused in their nationalist struggle when they successfully united against a common “enemy” and brought us our independence,  is the reason our language remains divisive, churlishly clannish and religiously irredentist. Rather, our political elite turned their backs on the supposed “independent sovereign nation” and resorted to lethal ethnicity. Worse, they hid under their fiery brand of ethnic and religious politics to paradoxically unite in offering a toxic variant of leadership that is mostly  devoid of altruism. Now, what remains of leadership if it is lacking in sacrifice?
 
Rather than thread a collective path toward nation building, what Nigerians know as the prevalent character of the political elite class across board is that they frequently push the country to a precipitous slide that has become the lot of Nigeria since independence. It was within this context of elite failure that the 1966 military coup struck and unleashed a huge canvass of governance instability epitomised by a long period of military adventurism in governance, that abated only recently in 1999 with the coming on of the fourth Republic. It is only in the last sixteen years that our fifty four year old country finally got the longest season of the sins qua non democratic context that helps a diverse people to embrace their differences through freedoms of discourse, disagreement, dialogue and principled negotiation. The question however is, “will our country ever seize the opportunity for such relationship building  and use it to triumph over the pain and discomfort of a nation birthing process?”
 
There is actually an incentive for us to push ourselves toward this painful choice.  Not having deliberately engaged the best medium for shaping our consensus around a shared national identity, shared vision and shared values means that we will all continue to struggle to “Become”. It means struggling to become whatever is positively possible for each individual or group however defined. This is obvious because even in the last sixteen years of the latest cycle of being a Democracy,  Nigeria stays struggling to commence sensible and sustained “State Building” process. I mean, how can you possibly commence the structure of a house without laying the strong foundation required by engineering standards? That is precisely what we as Nigerians have been doing by pretending that we can build a “capable state” out of this country, when basic nation building remains an unfinished business.
 
The unfinished business of nation building has created room for the wily elite class to cleverly capture what passes for the “State” and push the larger population of the excluded who dot the entire landscape of Nigeria to the fringes of the benefits of governance. Such elite capture and “pocketization” of  the “pseudo state” is exemplified by the governance failures of the past fifty four years and this has engaged the curiosity of academic researchers around the world. Nearly all of Nigeria’s problem is traceable to poor governance and its more manifest symptom of cancerous corruption. Corruption is empirically proven to be the greatest obstacle to Nigeria’s development. Grand corruption which is the variant popularized by the elite of our society created the current endemic and systemic corruption. That in turn, has produced the most unacceptable levels of poverty in a country that evoked great expectation at the time of her independence. Today, poorer segment of citizens all over the country, who find themselves caught in the corruption-poverty-corruption trap are angry at the “crumbling state” that has failed to provide them the most basic services that people of other nations enjoy. Hence, regardless of what part of the country they come from, what language they speak, what culture they practice, what religion they believe, Nigerian citizens are gradually realizing that the ethnic jingoism of our majority of our elite may after all be purely self serving.
 
Over the years, the depth of poor governance and corruption by the political class and their private sector collaborators, and to a lesser extent the acquiescing religious elite, has worsened the cynicism, pessimism and skepticism of citizens about leadership. The leadership crisis has hugely eroded our Social Capital. No society can build for a lasting future  without some reasonable measure of Trust of government by the people. The values exemplified by leadership sets the standard for the rest of society. That citizens do in fact openly express trenchant cynicism about the uninspiring role that the religious spheres including the Church has played in bring forth a values- deficit and broken down Nigeria is heartbreakingly opposite of the standard set for the modern church by the Early Church.
 
 The collapse of our values and the depletion of our social capital have further sharpened the ethnic and religious fault lines and increased the tensions and conflicts among our diverse groups. Conflicts of all kinds have further deepened poverty among the poor citizens who were already excluded from the benefits of recent economic growth. Feeling abandoned by the “Nigeria- State”, our society is seeing a growing number of people among the excluded cynically following after the “examples” of their elite. They do so by engaging  in all manner of acts of criminality and wickedness in an obvious attempt at lashing out at a country which they believe has failed them.
 
And yet, the nation building process is one in which all of society  must play a role, because it happens faster when it is designed as an all inclusive process that leaves no one, no segment, no group, no gender, no class and no sphere behind. Lessons from other lands show that in negotiating and agreeing a shared identity, the religious sphere for its inherent capacity to build and nurture human relationships, has the potential to play a strong role. Therefore, the Church –  whether as individual members and/or as a group/ organisation-  has always had a central role to play in nation building. The church, dear brethren, has an enormous role in helping to foster the sense of shared humanity of our people, majority of who feel bound only minimally by a shared territorial neighbourhood. To agree on our shared humanity is in fact the best starting point toward nations building.
 
However, the question today is ” how well has the Church in Nigeria fared as a potential catalyst that helps propel Nigerians toward a positive trajectory and progression into nationhood?”
Let us even narrow this evaluation of the role of the Church to the fundamental premise of my considered opinion that Nigeria and Nigerians have been victims of an elite class failure. How  much of a restraining or constraining  influence has the Church tried to be to curtail the destructive  habits of our  “power elite”?  Has the Church not mostly acquiesced with this class of people in the manner it welcomes and honors those of us among their flocks  who should at the least receive a rebuke or moral sanction for conducts that detract from the behaviour of “those who have been with Christ”?
 
There is, even if not empirical; at least some reasonable anecdotal basis for probing the role of the Church in so far as the public piety of its flocks is concerned. The privileged class are traced to the grand ills of the Nigerian society in nearly all the instances of truncation of governance by coups. Here is a classic description of the “power elite” of Nigeria in the statement “justifying” the 1966 coup:  ” our enemies are the political profiteers, the swindlers, the men in high and low places that seek bribes and demand 10 percent; those that seek to keep the country divided permanently so that they can remain in office as ministers or VIPs at least, the tribalist, the nepotists, those that make the country look big for nothing before international circles, those that have corrupted our society and put the Nigerian political calendar back by their words and deeds.”
 
Every other coup that followed ( and there were at least five more); uncannily repeated that 1966 text of justification until the last one that occurred in 1993. One can thus reasonably conclude that what we today confront as systemic corruption only metamorphosed to current gargantuan scale as Nigeria’s elite class kept on perverting  the values of our country and distorting our incentive and disincentives regimes. It has been so since the painful 60s even unto this day that corruption which is the worst tax on the poor robs them of the opportunities of a good life.  Our elite class regardless of their origin, tongue and religion has been robbing the poor, who the Church in Nigeria, like the Early Church of the Apostles ought to protect.
 
So, sure the economy has been growing  at 7% every year in the last ten years but what quality of growth have we had with still more than 61% of poor in the land, 24% unemployment level with more than 40% level among the youthful segment? We have a negligible changed structure of the Nigerian economy since independence with the consequence that manufacturing has stayed at less than 15% thus narrowing the opportunity for rapid absorption of labour.  The massive unemployment and underemployment is because our indigenous private sector is underdeveloped compared to the countries of Asia and Latin America where small businesses account for more than 60 percent of the economy or 75% in America. Our private sector that thrives, does so mostly by depending on the distortion of policies, the corruption of the public sector and influence peddling while the small businesses suffer the severe adverse effects of failure of the same policies. Inequality and growing disparity between the few that have and those that don’t, has grown deeper. Regrettably the elite fail to understand the implications of such an unsustainable pattern of power and wealth relations in any society. Even  as the heinous effects of long lasting poor governance in the North East of Nigeria stares us in the face, our elite imperviousness remains.
 
All of the foregoing are matters that require policy, institutional, investment actions to solve. They are broadly the governance matters that constitute the State Building process. Our effort at tackling them without correcting the faulty foundation of “absence of nation building” has produced disappointing results. The corruption-poverty-corruption trap has thus capped the possibilities of our larger population of citizens while unlike the Early Church, today’s Church busies itself with materialism. When the Church in Nigeria provides a place of comfort rather than rebuke and sanction to any of the elite of the land who are culpable for poor governance and corruption, then it inadvertently becomes acquiescent in the entrenched inequality. It even worse violates the Word of God: “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. (2 Thessalonians 3:13-15).
 
God cares about the poor. God wishes that His Church would also care about equity and justice for the poor, and stand on the side of the weak and vulnerable rather than with those who oppress them. A corrupted Nigeria will eternally rob the same poor that the Church should be protecting. Has today’s Church not mostly failed to use its Voice on behalf of the poor in the land by systematically living up to its “watchdog” roles in the same manner  as our Lord Jesus, John the Baptist, Prophets Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos and several others? How ready is the Church to champion a credible sanction era to punish the cancerous corruption that afflicts our land? Would it not be a tragedy if the government becomes actually serious to lead such a corrective war to rebuild our foundations and what the church does is to “blow the trumpet in an uncertain way” such that the people fail to prepare for battle?
 
While the political and to a lesser degree, the business elite,  set the stage for the broken and faulty foundation of Nigeria, the rest of our society must also accept their fair share of the blame for helping to accelerate the slide, by their apathy, lethargy or indifference. The governed, be they men or women have a major role to compel their elite to act in always that promote the collective good of society. Those citizens who not understanding the power they wield and so fail to collectively deploy it in demanding for good governance and accountability for resources and for results from those that lead them, will surely pay huge costs for their ignorance. To simply accept and applaud acts that injure a citizen is injustice to both the person and the rest of society. When citizens of Nigeria fail to actively engage, participate and exercise their voice in helping shape the course that the country is taking, nation building will be further delayed. Such reorientation and mass mobilisation of citizens to become an informed and active force for good is one role that the Church has so far missed playing.
 
To return to the basics and compel this all too important and painful process of nation building, I recommend that the Church in Nigeria acting as a collective, can become the Catalyst that galvanises individual members, families, civil society to set out an agenda for a discourse of our common identity, vision and values. There is no better organisation of people to trigger a Values Renaissance as a lasting counter to the present “distorted normal” . What happened to virtues like honour, honesty, integrity, character, dignity, hard work, kindness, sacrifice,  selfless service and such like?
 
The distorted VALUES of the failing Nigerian society has seeped so badly into the church such that we are reminded that “if the foundations be destroyed or broken, what will the righteous do”? Is it not the case that we also have crisis of leadership values in the church today? Should we not first repent for failure to be the SALT,  THE LIGHT AND THE CITY UPON THE HILL.  Reading Prophet Hagia’s first and second chapters, one will conclude that like the children of Israel in his time, we the Church of Nigeria of today sit  in church praying to all become prosperous while the vineyard (Nigeria) that God had given us over grows with weeds. “Consider your ways”, the Prophet roared then. Where are our own Prophets to roar at His church?  If today they will emerge,  then God will return to us!
 
Who better than the Church can boldly take this agenda to the top of our national discourse with a determination to force our deliberation of the ideals upon which vibrant and successful nations emerge? The justification for the Church to make such a bold move is the urgency necessitated by escalating inequality engulfing the land but which the political elite class that should provide leadership is too distracted by their power squabbles.
 
But, the Church also is distracted! The Church is distracted by its material needs and greed. The Lord understands that His children would have needs but His assurance in the four books of the Gospel is that if we kept the matters of the kingdom— such as nation building – by being the standard bearers in our nation as the “Salt of the Earth and the Light of the World”, excelling in our “Ministry of Reconciliation and Peace” unto which He has called us, then ALL THESE OTHER MATERIAL “THINGS” ( Note that He belittles them as mere “things”) shall be added unto us. God forbids that the Church will become irrelevant because it joined the people of the world to mind the irrelevant things and not the Lord’s  mandate! Our Lord goes further and warns that should His Church busy itself with “things” then it is no longer the “Assembly of the people of God” but a gathering of heathen.
 
 I believe that this awakening by FourSquare calls the Body of Christ to deep retrospection and introspection in order to unreservedly uncover and discover where we missed it and veered into the path of craze for perfidious acquisition. How did we, who should lead as His Light become the LED, into darkness? How did the Church become so “at ease in Nigeria” that we are now misled by our political and business elite who should have been under our positive influence? One pathway out of this quagmire is for the Church to judge itself and admit that it has fallen short as a cleansing ground; and that in order to qualify to function as a cleanser in this land, we would all need to plead with the Lord of the Church to mercifully come into the sanctuary and purge His people. But, is the Church ready for the painful purging?
 
When evil is prevalent in a society we know that God  keeps for Himself a Remnant.  There remaineth a REMNANT as Prophet  Isaiah declared in chapter  10 verse 20. How come FourSquare Church has tied its entire Diamond Anniversary to the issues of the Nigeria condition? It is because the Church senses that a new season has come.  It is a season of opportunity to “do a new thing that can spring forth!”. As Solomon said, there is a time for everything under the sky. A time to be indifferent and a time to become involved. A time to ignore and a time to no longer ignore. A time to sit in church and just pray and a time to both pray and work like Prophet Nehemiah and like the four carpenters that Prophet Zechariah spoke about. The season we are in, is the season when the salvation of Nigeria is closer than when we first began. The season for a new birth has come and so there is a restiveness in the spirits of the people of God. We shall both pray, groan in the spirit, travail and walk our beliefs for the birthing of the New Nigeria through deliberations that will transit us from country to NATION.
 
When Nehemiah heard the news of the broken walls of Jerusalem, his heart was burdened at what he was told-  not just for the city but for the poor in the land. Nehemiah had no reason to be so distressed because after all, his situation as the King’s cupbearer was remarkably privileged for one who was in captivity. Yet, his sorrow knew no end. He prayed, asked God for a strategy and received it immediately, because God loves and supports those who care about His vision. Nehemiah, set out on the journey back to Jerusalem determined to succeed. Of all the tools that Nehemiah needed for a successful reconstruction effort— money, men and material– a good read of his book shall reveal to us, that it was none of these that brought the prophet his successful and on-target delivery of his mission to rebuild the broken walls. What did bring the completion of work despite all the challenges he encountered, was RIGHTEOUSNESS. Nehemiah new how to do the RIGHT THINGS. He did not engage in the wrong things while praying to get a good result. In nation building, we know that it is “Righteousness that exalts a nation while sin is a reproach to any people”. It was the Church -as in the members of the Church and not the buildings;  that Christ commanded to become known for “a pattern of well doing”.
 
Today, because it is very appropriate to nation building, I have decided to use the concept of righteousness as the pattern of “doing the right things” even by a person or nation that is outside of the Christian Faith. We have an example of a country like that – of a people who do not confess our Lord Jesus Christ – as majority of our Christian folks do here in Nigeria.  It is a nation with similar multi- ethnic, history of colonisation and poverty challenges like Nigeria had in the 60s at independence. That nation, is known as Singapore. Together with Nigeria and many other developing countries, it started on the Development journey with Gross Domestic Product  – GDP per capita of less than $500 in the 60s. By first resolving the nation building process and then moving on to the state building process with leadership that “did the right things consistently” , Singapore today has a GDP per capita of $60,000 compared to  our beloved country’s  $2300. No wonder Singapore is an upper income economy offering majority of her citizens the highest quality of life.
 
Where then are our own Nehemiahs? Where are our Deborahs? Where are our Daniels? Where are our Ezras? Where O country of Nigeria, are your Modecais and Esthers who have made up their minds to not bow but to rather dethrone the STRONG MAN OF CORRUPTION that is sitting over NIGERIA? It is time, Church! This is the season!! It is time to:
To PRAY !
To WORK!!
To WALK!!!
To BUILD …………. Until we become a Nation. ….. Until our New Nigeria emerges. Until the Nigeria of God’s dream comes. Until Nigeria becomes a praise in all the earth. I BELIEVE.
 
 
Obiageli “Oby” Ezekwesili
September 17, 2015

– See more at: http://www.opinionnigeria.com/the-role-of-the-church-in-nation-building-by-obiageli-ezekwesili/#sthash.2Ofhht2C.qmf6qJ5R.dpuf

Migrant Crisis: Pope Francis Calls On All Catholic Parishes In Europe To Take In Refugees

Pope Francis in his last Sunday address called on every European parish to host one refugee family each in a goodwill gesture that will begin in the Vatican state.

“I appeal to the parishes, the religious communities, the monasteries and sanctuaries of all Europe to take in one family of refugees,” he said.

The Pontiff added that it is not enough to say “have courage, hang in there” to the refugees making the dangerous journey into Europe. He also said that two parishes in the Vatican will each take in a family of refugees in the coming days.

Pope Francis said the call to action is a “concrete gesture” to prepare for the extraordinary Holy Year on the theme of mercy, which will begin on December 8.

The call goes out to tens of thousands of Catholic parishes in Europe. There are more than 25,000 parishes in Italy alone, and more than 12,000 in Germany, where many of the refugees are hoping to settle. His Sunday’s comments come as Europe battles the worst refugee crisis since World War 11.

Over 350,000 refugees have already crossed into Europe and around 200,000 more are expected to arrive.

Masquerade Arrested After Invading Church, Floging Pastors & Church Members

Four masquerades, on Sunday, invaded Christ Apostolic Church in Epinmi Akoko, Akoko North-West Local Government Area of Ondo State, disrupted the service and flogged officiating pastors and some members of the church.

A source said that the masquerades, who were earlier prevented from entering the church by the workers, forced their way in and headed towards the officiating pastor, beating him and other pastors.

The invasion disrupted the service, as members of the church, who were caught unawares, left their bibles and other belongings and ran out of the church.

The source said the masquerades acted as if they had a score to settle with the officiating pastors, Jacob Ogunmola and Kehinde Ilori, as they flogged them repeatedly, chasing them around the church until they could not run again.

The source explained that the two pastors were injured and later rushed to a nearby hospital, adding that the reasons behind the action of the masquerades remained unknown.

One of the masquerades, Tunde Arohunmolase, was, however, apprehended by the people and had been handed over to the police, while other masquerades fled the scene after the incident.

“The police responded promptly and one of them was overpowered by the congregation. His mask was uncovered and most of the people in the church and around the community identified him to be one of the boys from the community,” the source said.

Read More: tribuneonlineng

Catholic Priest Assassinated In Imo State

During the weekend, a Claretian priest of the Catholic Church was murdered in Owerri, Imo state.
The priest, whose full identity could not be ascertained at press time, was an academic staff of Imo State Polytechnic, Umuagwo, in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of the state.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Andrew Enwerem, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, confirmed the incident, he said the priest was murdered by assassins on a bush path.
Enwerem said:

“The police are suspecting that it was a clear case of assassination. The priest was gruesomely murdered along a very lonely bush path that would have led him into Port Harcourt Road.”

While noting that whatever happened to the priest might be connected with the bickering and happenings in Imo Polytechnic, Enwerem, however, wondered why the Catholic priest chose to use such a lonely bush path.

He said:

“The police are suspecting that whatever happened to the priest cannot be far from the ceaseless bickering emanating from the polytechnic.

“Again, I wonder why the priest chose to use the lonely bush path on his Toyota SUV.”

He confirmed that although the police have recovered the vehicle, no arrests had been made in connection with the crime.
The PPRO said that police patrol teams were despatched to the area as soon as the information was passed on to them.
He said:

“The youths of the community joined the police in combing the surrounding bushes. The hoodlums simply perfected and carried out their damnable act before vanishing into the thin air.”

Enwerem confirmed that the command had not only expanded its dragnet to all corners of the state, but were following all available leads.
Enwerem said: “There is the likelihood that the assassins carefully monitored the priest’s movement and laid ambush for him on his track. Honestly, it was a gruesome murder.”

God has vindicated me -Wike

The Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike, has stated that God has vindicated him before his political enemies.

 

The governor made this statement, yesterday, at the Sunday Service of the Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Mission Church in Port Harcourt.

 

The governor recalled the prayer he made before God when his political opponents called him a member of a secret society.

 

His words: “if you recall I did say, that if I belong to a secret society, I should not win the governorship elections of Rivers state. By the special grace of God, the pastor prayed for me before the congregation, he prayed for me in private, and he has been praying with me up till now. To the glory of God, the elections came and God Almighty triumphed”.

 

Governor Wike, who further recalled how the church supported him during his turbulent time, said he would redeem his campaign promise to carry out renovations in and around the church headquarters premises in Port Harcourt.

 

He said: “if you recollect, I said that if I win, I would tar the road leading to the church compound and interlock its premises”.

 

The governor maintained that this would be part of his 100 days in office programme.

 

The Rivers State Governor said that his administration was the first in history of Rivers State to achieve many road construction progresses despite the heavy rains. He attributed these achievements to the power and grace of God.

 

Source : PM News

Woman, 92, Booted From Church Over Unpaid Tithes

According to WALB, Josephine King, 92, recently received a letter informing her that she has been removed from the membership roster at the First African Baptist Church in Bainbridge, Georgia.

“Josephine King is no longer considered a member of the First African Baptist Church of Bainbridge, Georgia,” read Gerald Simmons, King’s nephew.

The letter, which was signed by FABC Senior Pastor Derrick Mike, claimed that King “has shown non-support” to the ministry in the areas of “constant and consistent financial and physical participation.”

King, who served as a member of the congregation for more than 50 years, was naturally shocked by the letter of removal. According to Simmons, his aunt had been dealing with health complications and was considered sick and shut-in, which explains her lack of attendance. He also shared that during her 50-year membership with the church, she has gone above and beyond to show her support.

Read Moremadamenoire

South African Police Investigate ‘Snake Pastor’ Church Raid

South African police are investigating the raid of a church run by a self-styled prophet accused of making his followers eat snakes, rats and hair.

Opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party activists disrupted a service near the capital, Pretoria, and a tent was burnt down in the fracas.

Pastor Penuel Mnguni gained notoriety after photos showed him dangling a live snake into a man’s mouth.

However, police withdrew charges of animal cruelty against him.

Police spokesman Mathews Nkoadi said in July that there were no witness statements and insufficient evidence to bring a case.

Dubbed the “snake pastor”, Mr Mnguni runs the End Times Disciples Ministries in Soshanguve, north of Pretoria.

The EFF said that they had raided a service on Sunday because they wanted Mr Mnguni to “lead by example” and eat snakes and rats.

But EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi tweeted that the pastor “ran away” so they were unable to confront him. Mr Mnguni has not commented on the raid.

A man eats grass at service
People at the service on Sunday ate leaves
Man offered toilet paper
They were also offered toilet paper

EFF activists advanced on the church carrying mice and small lizards, South Africa’s Pretoria News reports.

“We are fighting corruption and this man is [allegedly] a prime example of that,” EFF official Mandisa Mashego is quoted as saying.

Read Morebbc

Man Steals Money From Church Twice, Gets Caught The Third Time

A suspected church robber, Ehiosun Junior, has been arraigned before an Egor Chief Magistrate Court, over alleged attempt to steal the church offerings during its annual thanksgiving.

Testifying under cross examination at the resumed hearing of the case, the Pastor in charge of the church, Christ Apostolic Church, Rev. Igbinigie Anthony, said the alleged thief had broken into the church on 2 previous occasions and made away with N52, 000 cash.

The cleric told the court that he had a premonition that the thief would return to steal the thanksgiving collections, so he and the church’s Youth President, who was simply identified as Okoh, decided to sleep in the church that day.

He said

The first time the suspect broke into the church, he stole N40,000, but I asked the church to pray to God to forgive the thief.“On the 12th, they came back through the same place and stole N9,000 and other offering money. On the 23rd, 12 cans of malt were stolen.“After our thanksgiving on the 30th, I knew the thief will come back because we kept all the monies and items realized inside the church. At about 11:45 pm, I saw a shadow because we switched off all the lights in the church.“I pointed a torch at the person and he ran away towards the direction of the Youth President who caught him. The accused said he was the only one and we called the police who took him away to Okhoro Police Station,” Rev. Igbinigie told the court.

He told the court that they discovered that the accused was present at the church thanksgiving and was served food and drinks.

The suspect who was arraigned on a 4-count charge, pleaded not guilty.

The case has been adjourned to August 17 for further hearing.

PM News

Episcopal Church To Allow Same-Sex Marriages

The Episcopal Church says it will permit weddings for same-sex couples after members approved the change at a meeting of its governing body.

The decision by the church, which has about 1.9 million members in the United States, follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision last week to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.

The Episcopal Church has taken steps toward greater inclusiveness for same-sex couples in the past. In 2012, it approved services blessing same-sex relationships.

But those services were not considered to be marriage ceremonies by the church, whose headquarters are in New York.

Read More: cnn

Woman In Police Net Over Fake Church Testimony

Mrs. Blessing Emeka Eze, 25 years old who has been going from one church to another claiming that her 8-year-old daughter was kidnapped and released after 11 days in captivity has been arrested.
The Owode, Ogun State-born domestic servant was caught by members of Four Square Gospel Church, Obawole, Iju station, a suburb of Lagos State, southwest Nigeria, on Sunday, 7 June, 2015 where she had gone to give false testimony that her 8-year old daughter who was kidnapped at Ogba area of Lagos State was found at Mile 2 after 11 days. She also told the congregation that precious told her that she was fed with raw food and raw meat which made the Pastor of the church, Rev. A.S. Adekunle to order that the
girl be taken to a medical centre on Old Akute Road for treatment.
On getting to the hospital, the 8-year-old girl who was wearing pampers was observed by the doctor on duty and the doctor said nothing was wrong with the girl.
But the mother insisted that something was wrong with her.
At a point, the doctor prescribed that she has to be on observation in addition to giving her drip to flush out any disease she might have contracted.
Again, her mother objected and demanded that the girl be given only injection.
While the argument was on, two men came in and identified the woman and the same daughter as the person who gave a similar testimony the previous Sunday at Christ Apostolic Church in the same Obawole and the church donated N5,000 for her to take care of the child.
After she was threatened with arrest,  she opened up and said the girl was not kidnapped as she alleged, adding that she was only using the girl to make ends meet.
She was subsequently handed over to the police at Iju Police Station, Red House, Iju Ishaga, Lagos State for further investigation.

Church Renames Oduah ‘Veronica Of Our Time’

You might be conversant with the story of Veronica who occupies the centerpiece of the 6th Station of the Cross-, a prayer often prominent during the Lenten period among the Catholics, Anglicans and some other orthodox churches.

Though some scholars doubt the authenticity of St. Veronica and her action because it was not expressly stated in the New Testament of the Bible during the Passion of Christ, The Wikipedia noted that according to church tradition, Veronica was moved with pity when she saw Jesus Christ carrying His cross on the way to Golgotha that she wiped the face of Jesus with her veil to ease his suffering and miraculously, the face of Christ appeared on the veil.

The lesson in the legendary story is that Veronica is remembered globally for her good deed and is used as a symbolic name for all who lend a helping hand to others in great need. Talking about good deeds, Sophocles said to be doing good deeds is man’s glorious task on earth. The great Budha also said: “Justas treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind.”

Sallust while underscoring the fruits and strength of good deeds also said: “Neither soldiers nor money can defend a king but only friends won by good deeds, merit and honesty.”

Good deeds attract both earthly and heavenly rewards and so recently, the parishioners of Queen of Apostles Catholic Church, Housing Estate, Fegge, Onitsha gave a resounding testimony on the good deeds of Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah, Nigeria’s former Minister of Aviation and the Senator-elect for Anambra North zone.

It was a Sunday morning and the princess just decided to worship at that church in continuation of her thanksgiving to God and the people for the love they showered on her. The princess and her entourage on entry to the church coincidentally met Rev. Fr. Christopher Onuekwusi, a Catholic priest, who knew much about her and once had several encounters with the princess and her charity works when he was at St. Gregory Catholic Church, Iyiowa Odekpe.

It was during the homily that the cleric literarily lifted the veil off the face of Princess Oduah by cataloguing her footprints to the already excited congregation. He nicknamed Princess Oduah the ‘Great Church Builder’.

Reeling out some of the positive things Oduah had done to touch humanity, he recalled when she distributed more than 20 Hummer buses to youths who wanted to pursue a career in the transportation sector. He recalled activities ranging from scholarships to university students and building of churches.

“She is somebody who feels for the people and wants the progress of all. Payment of school fees, sponsorship of students in the seminary school and rendering assistance to priests. Princess Oduah took after her mother in generosity because I remember that her mother, the late Josephine also paid for my hospital bill when I fell sick many years ago. She has been doing all these before she became minister and she made Nigeria proud with her achievements in the aviation sector,” the cleric said.

The parish priest of the church, Rev. Fr. Innocent Egbunike in his own speech stunned everybody when he called up Princess Oduah for special prayers and later declared her the “Veronica of our own time.”

He said: “We want to make your visit a unique one that you will never forget. The only thing I will promise you is prayer but in the same vein, I am happy that people like you are now joining active politics. I also advise those seeking elective positions to have the interests of the masses at heart on getting there.

“As the chaplain of the Catholic Laity Council in Onitsha Archdiocese, I want to approach your visit here from the spiritual angle. I have thought about how to receive you here as the one who has the welfare of the church and priests at heart. I checked and only one thing came to my mind.

“I think the name Stella was given to you in error. So, after thinking about it, the parish decided to rename you the ‘Veronica’ of our own time. “Veronica was the lady, who wiped the face of Jesus Christ because of the torture inflicted on him by the Jews. You have now taken that position with Veronica by wiping the faces of poor people in our midst. Take politics aside, your foundation has done a lot in this direction.”

At the peak of the ceremony, the parishioners through the parish council and the parish priest presented a souvenir to the princess.

According to the cleric, the gift was in recognition of all her achievements and continuous efforts to better humanity. He maintained that all political office holders should address the problems of the society when they are elected into office.

Creditsunnewsonline

Church Members Of Pastor Held For Drug Trafficking Disappear

The family and church members of the 43-year-old pastor, who was arrested by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for allegedly trafficking heroin as he was returning from ministers’ conference in Uganda, have fled.

The Pastor, Daniel Lanre Akintola, is of the Gospel Faith Mission International, Olayemi Assembly, Ipaja Lagos State.

An EagleOnline correspondent visited the pastor’s home on Thursday, only to discover that his house, located at Block 326, flat 3 was under lock. Neighbours said they did not know the whereabouts of his wife and child.

Many of the residents asked about the man of God, quickly dashed into their apartments, to avoid
answering, while those who answered said they did not know any pastor.

His church, Gospel Faith Mission International, located at Olayemi Assembly Area of Ipaja, was also deserted as no person was seen.

Akintola was found with 1.978kg of heroin concealed in a false bottom of his luggage. Akintola was arrested at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport (AIIA). Akintola who claimed ownership of the bag containing heroin said that he was returning from a pastor’s conference. He said:

“I’m a pastor with Gospel Faith Mission International, Olayemi Assembly, Ipaja Lagos. I attended a minister’s conference in Uganda. This bag where heroin was found is my bag but I’m pastor and not a drug trafficker!”

NDLEA spokesman, Mitchel Ofoyeju, said that the suspect who lives in Lagos could not produce evidence that he actually attended a minister’s conference in Uganda.

“Besides, he also did not give any reason for leaving Entebbe, Uganda en-route Addis Ababa to Enugu,” said Ofoyeju.

A neighbour in the estate where Akintola reside, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, said for about a week now, she had not seen the pastor. She said:

 “We just moved into this area. I used to see him play with people. He looked very humble and friendly. Everyone calls him pastor; I don’t know the particular church he pastors. His wife has been alone for some time. But where the husband travelled to, I do not know”.

Korede Bello Replies Critics Over Church Performance

Mavin act Korede Bello has replied critics who questioned his performing the hit single GodWin in church. “Mixed reactions about me glorifying God in the church! Am I not allowed to give my Testimony?” he posted on Instagram.

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The Mavin records act was a guest minister at HICC (Harvesters International Christain Centre) in Lagos where he performed his smash hit single. His performance in church didn’t quite go down well with a gospel musician Tunde Praise. He said that Korede Bello is a secular act and had no business on the altar.

Armed Robbers Attack Church in Kwara

Six armed robbers reportedly robbed the entire residents of Emmanuel Baptist Church Cathedral, Sabo Oke in Ilorin, Kwara State of their belongings.

A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the pastorate was robbed of laptops, trinkets and unspecified amount of money. The bandits were said to have come in search of the proceeds of the funds raiser of the church which took place on Sunday.

They were said to have scaled the fence of the church from the back, overpowered the five private guards on duty and tied them with ropes. One of the security guards, who pleaded anonymity, said the robbers ordered one of them to lead them to the church’s strongroom.

He said, “The robbers use diggers, sledge hammers and an axe to break the safe but did not find any money there. “The disappointed robbers ordered one of us to lead them to the vicarage. The robbers then ordered the vicar (names withheld) to bring out the church money or they would shoot him dead.”

Read More: punchng

Another Church Building Collapses In Benin

Members of the Liberty Power Bible Church, famously known as Power Palace, narrowly escaped death on Sunday when their church building collapsed barely one hour after service.

However, nobody died in the incident.It was gathered that the building was still under construction.

The roof and pillars of the building fell on another building.Owner of the damaged building, Ajor Sylvanus, said the church collapsed at 1:45 pm.

He told reporters that he warned the pastor about materials used for the building.“Yesterday, there was a storm but I have been complaining about the building.

“The pastor built the church like a fence, with no pillar. The block was made of sand. I have been telling him that the absence of pillars would cause the building to collapse.

“The building fell on my building and damaged many things. I thank God that nobody died. When the pastor came, he was concerned about the musical instruments in his church and thanking God that his members were not around when the building fell.

“I had to call the police”, he added.

Anita Oyakhilome’s Name And Picture Removed From ‘Rhapsody of Realities’ Devotional

In the midst of Pastor Chris and Anita Oyakhilome‘s divorce saga, yet another controversy has emerged.

Anita Oyakhilome’s name has been excluded from the newly released October-2014 edition of Rhapsody of Realities, Christ Embassy’s monthly devotional, which she usually co-author. Her name and photo are completely missing from the front and back cover of the latest edition.

The devotional, which was started many years ago by the now estranged couple, usually had both their pictures and writings in the pages.

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Also, the back cover of the magazine which usually had a picture of the couple now has only Pastor Chris on it.

Reports also state that there is currently no trace of Anita’s picture or byline in the entire publication.

The new October edition of the Rhapsody of Realities, which is a special edition specifically dedicated to celebrating Nigeria’s Independence (Independence Edition) is already out and given free to church worshipers and non-worshipers alike.

A highly respected female church member, a Pastor precisely, now plays a very key role in the Believers’ Love World Nation – the umbrella body that is in charge of the publication of Rhapsody of Realities.

Pastor Chris Oyakhilome Denies Adultery Accusations, Threatens To Sue Journalists

Though not denying the growing divorce scandal surrounding him, the head pastor of Christ Embassy Church, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, has threatened legal recourse against journalists publishing stories about him and his wife, Anita’s divorce.

The pastor, who spoke through his lawyer, Mr. Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), called the accusations of adultery a “false and malicious” attack against him and the church.

“The attention of our client, Rev. Chris Oyakhilome, and the church has been drawn to the wave of false, malicious and fabricated stories being published in the print and electronic media about his person, the church and a matrimonial cause between him and his wife,” his attorney stated.

Sharply criticizing the recent coverage of the divorce proceedings, which the statement did not refute, the release claimed that publishers went so far as to fabricate claims that he had committed adultery against his wife, Anita. These contradict her claims that the leader of Christ Embassy Church had indeed been unfaithful during their “terribly degenerated” marriage, something she disclosed through counsel to Premium Times earlier Wednesday.

Characterizing the media’s coverage of his wife’s efforts to divorce him as “complete distortion of the facts in the pending proceedings in the United Kingdom”, the statement cited the coverage as “selfishly motivated” for political and financial advantage.

Oyakhilome’s counsel further said the media’s coverage was engineered to bring him and the church shame and ridicule, though his wife was the person who aired the allegations against him. Earlier today, Wednesday, Mrs. Oyakhilome even told Premium Times, through counsel, that the marriage had “terribly degenerated”.

The statement also acknowledged freedom of the press, but quite contradictorily cautioned that further action will be taken to safeguard the image of the church and the pastor if coverage continued. “Be warned therefore that unless the concerned media houses desist from further publishing words and stories which are false and damaging of our client’s reputation and the church, we shall, without further recourse to the concerned publishers, promptly embark on appropriate legal machinery with a view to protecting our client’s reputation and that of the church.”