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Exposed! Things dubious pastors, imams do to desperate miracle seekers

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Exposed! Things dubious pastors, imams do to desperate miracle seekers

 

When German philosopher, Karl Marx said ” Religion is the opium of the masses”, he might as well have had Nigerians in mind.

In Nigeria, religion is an aphrodisiac, an intoxicant that makes people abandon rationality in favour of “feelings”, a feeling desperate charlatans masquerading as men of God exploit to milk people and gyp them off their hard earned money, and sometimes, their dignity and even life.

Nigerians are a deeply religious people, and miracles and breakthroughs are a reason most people go to church and mosque to make supplications to God for blessings and rains of miracles.

Recently, a popular pastor, “Bishop” Feyi Daniels, was sentenced to life imprisonment for raping a co-pastor. This is the bottom of the degeneration and n the house of God.

Justice Rahman Oshodi of the Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court found him guilty of rape, and ordered that he be remanded at the Kirikiri Correctional Facility, Lagos. But he is not alone. A history of acts of greed, immorality, and debauchery pervade the religious landscape.

Money: First fruit controversy

A trend is emerging in the church where are no longer satisfied with the tithe and offering paid by members, which benefit only them and their families. They are now demanding for the whole month salary of members.

Recently, the idea of First Fruit has occupied social and traditional media space as many pastors have set off ecclesiastical controversy over who really is entitled to possession and use of first fruits donated by church members.

A clergyman, Pastor Anosike was the first to ignite this fire when he told his church members that their January salary is for him and not for the church.

The pastor claimed that he is not afraid of backlash and criticism, stressing that their first income belongs only to him.

He said that if his followers consider him as their spiritual father, they should present him with their first income of the year. He went on to say that such honour would bring them blessings.

In a viral video, the cleric made a claim to return the money if his members do not testify by the middle of the year after donating their January salary to him.

“This month salary is your first fruit of the year, it is for me, not for church. I want to challenge you, by the spirit of God, I fear nobody and I fear no criticisms.

“If you call me your spiritual father, this month salary is your first fruit of the year, It is for me, not for church. It is for this altar, it is for this oracle, it is for this vessel, this one God has prepared.

“It is for my welfare, if you honor me with the first fruit of your first year, by the middle of this year, if you don’t testify, come back, I’ll give back to you.

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Pastor Itua Ighodalo, a popular pastor of Trinity Church, also supported the claims of first fruits going to the pastor. This was made known In a recent interview.

There have been several videos of preachers asking congregants to bring to them the first salaries or profits made in January from their members, citing the biblical commandment of ‘first fruit’.

This has polarised faithful along binary lines. On one end are the ones, who feel giving one’s first fruits has nothing to do with religion. On the other hand, there are mostly Christians of neo-Pentecostal sects, who say that the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary is enough to pay up any debts mankind might have.

In 2018, another pastor of a church in Kaduna State convinced members of his church to relocate to a camp in Ekiti State with him, to “prepare for the end of the world”.

According to several reports, one of his followers said that the pastor first relocated to Ekiti from Kaduna, where he was formerly based, in 2020.

He then later returned to Kaduna in April to ask each member of his church to pay him N310,000 before they would be allowed to follow him to Omuo-Ekiti, where “the gate of heaven will open for all of them to fly to heaven”.

Several sources said the pastor also assured the members that they would all ascend to heaven together from the location in Ekiti. (A replica of another Guyana tragedy of Jim Jones, and the Branch Davidians of David Koresh in United States)

Sharp practices in the name of God can take any form in Nigeria.

In May 2023, a pastor in Delta State was captured on camera imploring a man he had hired to help get vital data on his congregation . The contract had gone sour following a breach on the part of the pastor, he reportedly declined to complete payment for the job and the hire went public, got together some rough heads and made for his house, where he was thoroughly disgraced.

In the now-viral video, the angry man alleged that the clergyman contracted him to go about picking sensitive information about his church members, which he then used during his ‘prophetic’ teaching.

The revelation left church members, who thought the ‘man of God’ was genuine in shock.

The clergyman, however, refuted the allegation, stating that he would ‘call on the holy spirit’ to deal with his ‘business partner’.

Again, in April 2014, another Islamic cleric was accused of duping worshippers to the tune of N1.2m.

The accused allegedly induced one Adam Iginla to part with money on false pretence.

For allegedly duping a prospective businessman of N1.2m, an Islamic cleric, Abdullakeem (surname withheld), was arraigned in an Ota Senior Magistrates’ Court in Ogun.

The suspect, 33, stood trial on a three-count charge of obtaining by false pretense, stealing, and conspiracy.

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The prosecutor, lta Ebibomino, told the court that the cleric and one other person still at large committed the offenses on December 18, 2013, in the Joju area of Sango-Ota.

Also, in December 2019, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, said it had arrested a fake Muslim cleric, Mallam Abdulrashid Imam, over allegations bordering on fraud to the tune of N3m and $24,000.

The commission’s Head of Media and Publicity at that time, Wilson Uwujaren, in a statement signed disclosed that the arrest followed a petition by one Mohammed Dewu.

False prophecies

Many pastors have been called out for fake prophecies, Nigerians have since lost count.

In November 2020, a pastor at Glorious Mount of Possibility Church, Yaba, Lagos, David Elijah, was severely slammed on social media following his prophecy that President Donald Trump would win the 2020 presidential election in the United States of America. It turned out to be false.

Recall that some time in July 2020, a Cross River State-based preacher and head pastor of ‘Prophetic and Deliverance Ministry’ in the state was put to shame after he was allegedly caught in the act planting a charm in his cousin’s land in a bid to extort money from him.

A member of the family, Juliet Wonah, shared on Facebook, how the pastor told his cousin that he needed money to uproot a charm someone planted in his land.

However, the pastor, unknown to him, was traced and caught red-handed with some fetish stuff at a shrine in the Itigidi area of the village in Ugeb after a resident of the community saw him planting the said charm in the land.

Several persons in the comment section of the post by Wonah alleged that Abam was known to always give prophecies and extort people of their hard-earned money after each prayer session.

Another pastor in a video was seen bathing his members with soft drinks in bottles, telling them that it would make their lives sweet and give them favour before all men.

The soft drinks, our correspondent learnt, must be bought from the church.

Sexual immorality

The more serious cases of offence allegedly being committed by some imams and pastors are sexual immorality and financial sleaze.

In the last decades, many of them have been fingered publicly. Here is a list of some of them, who were at one time or the other accused of engaging in illicit affairs.

Pastor Abiodun Fatoyinbo and Busola Dakolo.

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Fatoyinbo, a flamboyant University of Ilorin graduate turned pastor is the founder of COZA (Common Wealth Of Zion Assembly), is known for his elegant dress sense, oratory and the party-like atmospherics of his church. He was accused of raping Busola Dakolo, wife of sultry-voiced singer, Timi Dakolo.

Apostle Johnson Suleman

Apostle Suleman, the founder of Omega Fire Ministries was in the media attention three years ago, when a lady, Stepahnie Otobo called out the fiery pastor, claiming he impregnated her and later dumped her. She alleged that they both spent time alone in a hotel, where they had intercourse among others practices.

Though Suleman denied the allegations, which he said were false, but the lady insisted she was saying the truth.

Pastor Chukwuma Nkwocha

Nkwocha, the General Overseer of Tongue of Fire Restoration Ministry, was arrested in 2016 for allegedly camping and defiling about 30 under-aged girls. The Lagos state command sprung into action after receiving a report that the pastor with a church situated on Jacob Taiwo Street, Oshodi was harbouring some young girls and freely having unlawful canal knowledge of them.

Sunday Adelaja

In 2016, the founder and senior pastor of the Embassy of God, an evangelical-charismatic megachurch in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev was enmeshed in an adultery scandal following allegations that he had extramarital affairs with at least 20 women in his church.

Adelaja denied the allegations levelled against him, which he said was an attempt by some people to take over the church from him.

Dr. Sign Fireman

In 2014, reports surfaced that the church’s General Overseer of Perfect Christianity Mission, Aguda, Surulere, Lagos, Ofuche Ukoha aka Dr. Sign Fireman, was involved in an alleged sexual assault and killing of a 12-year-old girl in Badagry. The incident made him popular and almost tarnished his ministry.

Pastor Chris Oyakhilome

In 2014, it came as surprise, when reports surfaced that the founder of Believers Love World Ministry aka Christ Embassy, Pastor Chris and his wife, Anita Oyakhilome, were getting divorced. Anita, who filed for divorce, was said to have cited irreconcilable differences bordering on alleged adultery and unreasonable behaviour.

Chris Oyakhilome’s brother, Rev. Ken

Closely following on the heels of sexual scandal involving his brother, Rev. Ken, was said to have allegedly impregnated a South African lady, who was a member of the Church in Randburg, Guateng, which is the headquarters of Christ Embassy, South Africa.

The alleged affair with the lady was said to be an “open secret” among the parishioners.

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Bishop Chris Kwakpovwe

Another scandal broke in May, 2017, when Rita Ibeni, a member of Our Daily Manna/Manna Prayer Mountain Ministry, alleged that her pastor, Chris Kwakpovwe, made sexual advances at her.

A recording of a telephone conversation purportedly between Kwakpovwe and Rita surfaced online.

The male voice was alleged to be that of the pastor, who confessed love for Ibeni and expressed interest in having sexual relations with her.

Pastor Timothy Omotoso

Pastor Timothy Omotoso, a senior pastor of a Jesus Dominion International, based in Durban, South Africa is facing a string of charges including rape, sexual assault, human trafficking and racketeering.

It is alleged in the 90-count charge that the accused, along with two accomplices, Lusanda Sulani and Zukiswa Sitho lured young girls to his church in Durban. He once tried to escape justice by trying to sneak out of the country to Nigeria. The police tracked him down and arrested him while hiding at the airport toilet in South Africa.

Pastor Joshua Iginla

Popular Abuja-based pastor, Joshua Iginla admitted that he and his wife, Yemisi, had children out of wedlock.

Iginla, the Senior Pastor of Champions Royal Assembly, who spoke to his congregation during a Sunday service, said when his wife brought an illegitimate child into their home, he forgave her, but that she refused to forgive him, when he had his own child with another woman.

Bishop Francis Wale Oke

Christian author and evangelist, Bishop Francis Wale Oke was rocked by a scathing sex scandal, which he confessed to in the 90s.

The founder and presiding Bishop of The Sword of the Spirit Ministries, also known as Christ Life Church, admitted to sleeping with his secretary. Rumours have it that he impregnated her and she did many abortions for him.

Islamic clerics

Recall that sometime in June 2019, an Islamic cleric, Abdulsalam Salaudeen, was remanded by an Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court for allegedly raping a five-year-old girl in a mosque.

The prosecutor, Olanrewaju Dawodu, told the court that the suspect committed the offence on December 22, 2018, on the premises of Olorunbabe Mosque at 15, Palace Road, Igando, Lagos.

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Justice Abiola Soladoye, who obliged the prosecutor’s request for the remand, had adjourned the case until October 14 2019 for trial. The accused, 43, was later convicted..

Dawodu said that the accused, popularly called Alfa, was caught in the act via the footage of a hidden camera that was installed within the premises of the mosque.

An Islamic scholar and Vice-Chancellor of Ahman Pategi University, Patigi, Kwara State, Prof. Mahfouz Adedimeji, told a news daily (Punch) that some fake persons masquerading as Imams were giving the religion a bad name.

“It is true but disheartening that fake leaders and pseudo-clerics are posing as scholars of Islam these days.

“Anyone with some cheap data on social media can claim what he is not and still gain the following of the confused or ignorant lot. It is one of the signs of the end time foretold by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).”

Prophet Samson Akinpelu, Senior Pastor and televangelist, told Business Hallmark that the “problem is that a lot of this pastors and imams engaged in this kind of immortality and gross materialism are not called by God. They are only unabashedly using the name of God , hiding under His mercy to commit sins. They will surely have their day in heavenly court.”

The Chief Executive Officer of the Bible Society of Nigeria, Pastor Samuel Sanusi, said Christians must be wary of fake prophets, adding that it was a sign of the end time.

“There are some trusted churches that have stood the test of time. They preach the gospel of salvation and teach the ways of Christ.

“Follow them and not miracles. When you go in search of miracles, then you will meet those miracle merchants, who are ever willing to swindle you of your hard-earned money,” he added.

A psychologist Dr. Anthony Adebisi, told Business Hallmark that there are “many charlatans today in Christian and Muslim religions preying on the people, who are looking for a way out in life. This has become more serious as a result of bad governance over the years, which has pauperized the populations.

“These charlatans collect information discreetly on members of their church and mosque and then apply Psychology to gyp them in form of fake prophecies and because religion is an opium, many people believe them, suspend critical reasoning and discernment, thus falling into the hands of these charlatans.

“They search the scriptures, looking for quotable quotes that can be used to make merchandise of men. Some of their favourites are those scriptures dealing with giving first fruits to priests.

“Sometimes, such scammers threaten that God will take away even the little they (their followers) have or even visit them with calamities if they don’t obey and surrender their money.
“They sell out healing oils, blessed water, anointed handkerchiefs, sleep well pillows, and stickers for protection, amongst others at high prices.”

He added that when a religious leader is always overly eager to preach about giving out your money or properties, then he or she may be preparing to ‘scam’ the followers.

“The spiritual house ought to be a place of worship and not a financial advisory body or an investment house.

“Study the Bible or Quran or any Holy book applicable to you, to know the real truth so you won’t be deceived.”

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