By Comfort Obi
If you are of the Christian faith, you must be embarrassed by what happened on Sunday, December 2, at the Adoration Catholic Prayer Ministry, Emene, Enugu. On that day, the Christian Faith was dragged in the mud. And this, by a Priest of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Adoration Catholic Ministry was founded by its Spiritual Director, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka. Even though he is an ordained Priest of the Roman Catholic Church, Mbaka seems to be on his own. He has tens of thousands of adherents who believe in his alleged prophetic and healing powers.
I first heard of Mbaka’s Adoration Ministry during Dr Chimaroke Nnamani’s tenure as governor, Enugu state. A medical doctor, Nnamani and Mbaka, were, to put it mildly, very resentful of each other. It got worse after a tragic incident at the Adoration Praying ground, Enugu. Thousands of people had thronged the praying ground for a night vigil. When it ended, there was a stampede. Lives were lost. Injuries were sustained. Mbaka held the government responsible, claiming that its agents had used a kind of gas on the congregation. Shocked, the government explained that contrary to the Priest’s claims, the incident was caused by a stampede. Only one small gate was open for the thousands of people to exit. Everybody wanted to leave at the same time. And, there was no provision for crowd control. In more civilized countries, the Ministry and its Spiritual Director, Mbaka, would have been prosecuted for criminal neglect. But they got away with it.
Following that, incident, Mbaka predicted that Nnamani would never secure a second term in office. It was a prediction denied by God. Not only did Nnamani secure a second term, he became a Senator of the Federal Republic, thereafter.
That false prediction did not cost Mbaka his congregation. Afterall, he is not the only one whose prophesy and prediction had come to naught. A number of the men of God regale us with such false prophesies. The lies don’t affect their fortunes. They only cast doubt on the efficacy of the prayers by some genuine ones. And, shake our faith a little. Their adherents are brain-washed.
Mbaka has since upped the ante. His Adoration ground has become a must, almost, for political office seekers. It became more popular when he, in 2015, predicted that former President Goodluck Jonathan, was going to lose the Presidency to the then General Muhammadu Buhari. Nobody knows whether Jonathan lost because of Mbaka’s prayers, or due to a combination of so many factors. But no matter. Mbaka has since appropriated Buhari’s victory solely to his (Mbaka’s) prayers and fasting.
For the records, Mbaka was a friend of the Jonathans until they fell apart. Here is how and why.
Mrs. Jonathan had gone to Mbaka’s Church with her friends. And Mbaka praised the Jonathans to high heavens. He predicted that Jonathan would win the 2015 election. And that anybody fighting the Jonathans was fighting God. But they fell apart because, according to Mbaka, the former First Lady, instead of giving him her direct phone number, asked one of her aides to give him. The aide did. But it was a number an aide picks first, and depending on the aide’s mood, may give to Mrs Jonathan to answer or not. Mbaka said he never got to speak to Mrs. Jonathan again. Her aides, he alleged, never allowed that. For that slight, Mbaka’s prediction changed. All the prayers and blessings he had heaped on the Jonathans were withdrawn. For Mbaka, it was a case of trade by barter. Rub my back, and I rub yours.
This last Sunday, Mbaka descended to a new low as he engaged in trade by barter with politicians, inside the Church. Since then, questions have been coming like claps of thunder. Are God’s blessings now up for sale to the highest bidder? Who will call Fr. Mbaka to order? Is he still a Roman Catholic Priest? If so, is the leadership of the Church comfortable with him?
You must have read the story of Mbaka’s despicable outing in newspapers and the social media. And you may have watched the two shameful video clips where he descended into the gutter in his quest for money and material things. He used methods and words and approach unbecoming of a man who wears the Cassock. To put it mildly, the method was nothing short of blackmail.
Using the Vanguard of December 3 as a guide, here is briefly what happened.
Mbaka, like many other Priests, is in the habit of inviting politicians to his annual Harvest and Bazaar Mass. A number of them fall over themselves to be present, especially, when elections to offices are near. For Mbaka and his Adoration Ministry, it is usually a harvest of Patronages by Politicians – “clean and unclean.” They donate money, generously, and get Fr Mbaka’s blessings.
So, this Sunday of December 2, Mbaka had invited some of them, including, but not limited to PMB, the Presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, Governors Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and David Umahi of Enugu and Ebonyi states respectively. An expected rich harvest. But Mbaka reduced it to a scam.
It began when he came out, microphone in hand, to invite his guests, one after the other, to harvest for his ministry. A Priest, completely enmeshed in politics and its intrigues, he knew the right speech to make. So, he first, descended on President Buhari who he had earlier, this year, predicted would lose the Presidency. He chided Mr President for not visiting the Adoration ground to show appreciation after he had prayed for him to win in 2015. He reprimanded him for not executing any project for him at the Adoration Ground. He talked about how his Ministry’s prayers saved the President from a life-threatening illness. And yet, PMB remained unappreciative. So, Mbaka warned: “Anybody who has Buhari’s ears should warn him that no one cheats God; that after he thinks he is healthy, his sickness may come in another form.” Meaning literarily: Buhari had better come and execute a project here, or another illness may be invoked upon him.
This Priest has an exaggerated opinion of himself. He attributes Buhari’s 2015 victory and his recovery from ill-health to himself alone. Does Mbaka know the number of Priests from different Churches across the country and beyond who prayed for his recovery. And I am not talking about Muslim Clerics, from Nigeria, Sudan, Mali, Saudi Arabia, and more, who prayed for Buhari’s recovery? From Buhari, Mbaka descended on Atiku, whose running mate, Peter Obi was present.
Speaking in Igbo, he said Atiku and Obi would end in shame if Atiku fails to personally visit the Adoration ground. Mbaka: “Ask Atiku if it is these steps that the cow will take to reach Umuahia. Atiku should reach out to Igbo leaders like Ike Ekweremadu and also come personally to Adoration ground and do a project for us. Otherwise, two of you will fail. You will end in shame.”
Meaning: Without a visit and a project, Atiku also goes nowhere. So you ask: Since visiting Mbaka and executing a project for him have become the gateway to political victory, what would happen if both Buhari and Atiku visit, donate money, and execute projects for Mbaka? Only one of them would win, meaning, again, that one of them would have been scammed because Mbaka would assure each of victory.
Yet, the most sacrilegious, in the house of God that day, was Mbaka’s encounter with Obi. The Priest called Obi out before the congregation. And there, Obi stood, like a sacrificial lamb before them. Mbaka began by chiding Obi for doing nothing for his ministry even though they had always supported him. Now, with Obi’s Vice Presidential candidacy, he has been caught by Mbaka’s trap. He must donate money, and also announce the project he would do for them. Obi tried to convince Mbaka that two of them would discuss the project he would embark on. Mbaka wouldn’t bulge. He wanted instant answer. And, for over 10 minutes, Mbaka was haggling like a kidnapper, and negotiating with Obi. He said Obi’s promise was neither here nor there. Mbaka: “It means you don’t want to do anything for the Lord. What you have said now is a political statement. God hates stinginess, and I’m telling you this to save your life. With the way you are going, you and Atiku will fail. The way you and Atiku are moving will end in shame.” They continued until persuaded Obi to break kolanuts. Obi did, with N500,000 (Five Hundred Thousand). But that was not enough for Mbaka. The punishment: Mbaka withheld Obi’s blessings, and would only release it when Obi discloses the project he would embark on to him. He even gave him a deadline. December, 31, 2018.
This Priest is playing God. He is appropriating God’s blessings to himself and dispensing them as he desires. He brings it out for sale, and gives to the highest bidders. He is using God’s blessings as a weapon of blackmail. And in case Obi, a staunch Roman Catholic, who has a sibling as a Rev. Fr., and another as a Rev. Sister, was still ignorant of what Mbaka was talking about, the Priest pushed Governors Umahi and Ugwuanyi forward as shining examples Obi should emulate.
Mbaka: “Umahi donated 1,000 bags of rice and 1,000 tubers of yam to me but it meant nothing to me until he handed N10 million cheque to me (Please note: The donations were to him, not to the Church), and promised to build a project for the Ministry. This is the type of gesture we require from Obi.”
This Priest says 1,000 bags of rice and 1,000 tubers of yam meant nothing to him. It was the N10 million Naira cheque that meant something to him. For that amount, and a promise to execute a project, Mbaka assured Umahi of a second term in office.
For Ugwuanyi, “it is 100 per cent support for Gburugburu,” Mbaka declared, to the embarrassment of the APC governorship candidate, Senator Ayogu Eze, who was standing with them. He told Eze: I don’t know who are deceiving you, but we are standing behind Ugwuanyi because he is the best governor Enugu has had”. I hope Eze made no donation. But following, is the worst.
Remember that Mbaka had spoken on President Buhari earlier on. At the time, Buhari’s representatives, led by Senator Hope Uzodinma, the APC governorship candidate had not arrived. So, the delegation arrived late with the Governor of Kano state (Remember him, and his recent tango over bribery allegations with Jafar Jafar?), and, the Priest had to speak PMB again. Uzodinma was a good representative. He broke the kolanut for Mbaka with the sum of Two Million Naira on behalf of Buhari, and promised that Buhari would build a hospital for Mbaka. The roof literarily came down! And in the video which has now gone viral, Mbaka admitted he was just scamming Obi.
He told PMB’s delegation: “How I wish you were here when I was speaking to Peter Obi, representing Atiku. I know that Obi went out from here almost disgraced. All the people Buhari is giving allocation, what qualification do they have that we don’t have? Who among them has done for him what we are doing for him? It is because of this Buhari that we told Peter Obi all those rubbish he heard today.
“And I want to tell you this: If Buhari will remain ungrateful to this Ministry, he is going nowhere. Atiku is waiting somewhere, and the only thing that can stop Atiku is spiritual. So you people should go and come back. You should not take us for granted. I am speaking with a spiritual mandate. We are being persecuted because of him. Here we are today was a forest. We were driven out because of our support for Buhari. But he has never given us anything. But we’ll keep praying for him because of his lovely wife who sends things now and then to us”.
“Governor”, addressing Ganduje. “You people should tell him, else he will fail”.
Mbaka must have withdrawn that threat because of Uzodinma’s largesse. And for being a good representative, Uzodinma would be the next governor of Imo state, he assured.
Good. But two things here.
Even though Mbaka literarily admitted he was scamming Obi, he was serious about the project he was asking Obi for. If Obi had mentioned one project and donated more than the N500,000 he donated, Mbaka would have released the withheld Obi’s blessings. And, it would have been positive. The second is that Uzodinma should, please, not take Mbaka seriously on his prophesy. The prediction is sweet music. But he should not rely on it. Here’s why.
If the PDP’s Emeka Ihedioha goes to Mbaka with more money than Uzodinma, and promises to build a hospital and a school for him, the prophesy would change. And if APGA’s Ifeanyi Ararume visits Mbaka with more money, and promises more projects than both Uzodinma and Ihedioha, Ararume would become the favoured one.
These candidates would believe Mbaka to their own peril. Mbaka’s prophesies and predictions against Chimaroke Nnamani did not work. They were fake. They should, also, remember that Mbaka did not see the truth when Ikedi Ohakim, former Imo state Governor, was falsely accused of flogging a Priest. Ohakim explained to no avail. Not surprising, Mbaka only saw the truth the day Ohakim went to Mbaka’s Church. I don’t know if he or promised anything, but Mbaka quickly apologised, publicly, to Ohakim over the false allegation.
Dear Readers, for how long are we going to endure this deceit by some men of God? For the records, Mbaka is not the only one in this double speak and outright selling of God’s blessings. In some Churches, the Priests tell the congregation: “If you give N100,000, God will bless you more than those who will give less. In fact, they ask them to come out, keep them separately – N100,000, N50,000, N25,000, N20,000, N10,000, N5,000, N1,000. They are then prayed for, again, separately. N100 no longer matters. It attracts no blessings. These guys have commercialized God’s blessings. They have commercialized the Body of Christ. To them, money is the gateway to Heaven, to God’s blessings. They have forgotten the Biblical Widow’s mite. They have turned the House of God into a market place where they haggle, and bid, and sell God’s favours to the highest bidder. And they are scaring the poor away from the Church. The poor feels inadequate in the Church. They can’t afford the blessings. These Priests forget that one of the times Jesus Christ got angry in the Bible was when he sent people out of the Church because they were trading in God’s house, His Father’s House.
But those things no longer matter. Many Priests teach nothing. They guide nobody spiritually. Their focus is money. Any wonder several of our youths focus on nothing but money. They don’t go to Church. When they go, all they hear from some Priests is money, money, money. So, they think it is a waste of time. So, they prefer to go to native doctors, fake spiritualists and herbalists who ask them to get involved in money rituals with human beings. When they strike gold, they go to Church for blessings.
But back to Rev. Fr. Mbaka. When Mbaka saw the galaxy of politicians, he did not talk about good governance. He did not preach against rigging, corruption, kidnapping, armed robbery, ritual killings. No. All he wanted was money. He has crossed the red line. He is giving the Body of Christ, especially, the Roman Catholic Church, a bad name. He seems to be above everybody in the Roman Catholic Church. They seem helpless. When he was posted out to Emene from Enugu, he took on the Leadership of the Roman Catholic Church in Nigeria. He said he was sent to Enugu out of envy. He descended on the Roman Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese, the Most Rev. Calistus Onaga, for daring to transfer him out of Enugu, a place he had stayed for 20 years. He was not punished for that unfortunate outburst. Now, embarrassed by the recent scandal, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Enugu has distanced itself from him. Rev. Benjamin Achi, the Diocese’s Director of Communications, says Mbaka may be disciplined. My opinion is: Mbaka has lost it. He should be recalled to Rome for retraining.
And, millions of Christians are praying the Church would have the courage to do so.