The entire social media went viral last week when the story of an alleged 419 scandal involving popular Lagos-based man of God, Prophet Chris Okafor of Mountain of Liberation and Miracles Ministries hit the blogosphere.
Recall that Prophet Chris Okafor was dramatically abducted by gun-wielding kidnappers after holding a successful crusade in Anambra state sometime in March 2012 and was held for 53 days in the kidnappers’ lair. During his abduction, his police orderly, one Adamu, a Mobile Policeman from MOPOL 22 Unit, Ikeja was shot dead. The Prophet's SUV also was riddled and battered with bullets, but he himself was unscathed.
However, in a story published on a news portal and shared severally on facebook, google+, many social networks and news blogs last week, it was alleged that the entire kidnap story was a "ruse" stage-managed by Prophet Chris Okafor himself in order to extort money from the purse of his church. Among other things, the story also claimed that the "remains" of the security escort who was reportedly killed in a crossfire with the kidnappers was never seen by anybody, neither was his identity disclosed, suggesting that the escort probably did not die as reported. The story also insinuated that, when Prophet Chris Okafor returned to Lagos after his release, he looked "fresh and well-fed", unlike someone just released by kidnappers. Another aspect of the story also alleged that Prophet Chris Okafor manipulated a female member of his church to surrender her plot of land in Magodo, Lagos to the church.
In a reaction to the allegations however, the fire-brand Prophet, Chris Okafor has dismissed the entire stories and allegations as “arrant rubbish and total falsehood from the pit of hell.” Prophet Chris Okafor who addressed the members of his Mountain of Liberation and Miracles Ministries’(a.k.a Liberation City) Ojodu, Lagos at the end of the church’s power-packed service on Sunday August 12, 2012, wondered how an individual in his right senses could go to the extent of concocting blatant lies of such magnitude against him for any reason whatsoever.
According to Prophet Chris Okafor, when his attention was drawn to the story by the former Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Godfrey Dikeocha “my initial reaction was to ignore it because I saw it as a mere distraction from idle minds attempting to tarnish my image and that of the church. The fact remains that I’m too busy with the work God has called me to do than to be distracted by irrelevant matters”.
Prophet Chris Okafor however said he opted to speak on the matter because of the various calls he had been receiving from different places and because of some innocent individuals who might be deceived to believe the falsehood being perpetrated by those behind the stories. He also told the congregation that “I find it necessary to talk to you about this because you are all my children and as my children, I owe you explanation on any issue of interest”
How Prophet Chris Okafor Was Kidnapped
According to the Prophet, “you all know how it happened. I was on my way to Lagos after our crusade in Akwa, Anambra state. It was on a Saturday night and I wanted to be in Lagos the following morning for the Sunday service, so we wanted to stay in Benin over night and catch a flight in the morning. We were supposed to pass through Awka-Onitsha road but because the road was not quite motorable, my driver who is also from Anambra like me opted to ply Nawfia Road. Then all of a sudden from nowhere these people just opened fire on my convoy from the back and bullets began to fly in different directions. I was with two of my security escorts; one in my jeep with my driver and my PA and the other one in the escort car. It was like a war scene. When the gunfire stopped and they came to where our vehicles stopped and they saw me, my driver and PA coming out of the vehicle, they were surprised and one of them shouted in Igbo that ‘so none of the bullets touched him’. It was only the security escort who jumped out of my vehicle that was killed. From there we were blindfolded and taken away. While in their custody, other people like Rt. Hon Godfrey Dikeocha, former Imo State House of Assembly Speaker were also held by the Kidnappers . One of those abducted and held together with us, Chief John Nzewi died in our presence. I was beaten and injured, if I open my back for you now, you will see various marks there. So it is quite unfortunate and disheartening that somebody could just sit down somewhere and start fabricating falsehood that I organized people to kidnap me because of money. That is the height of recklessness and I think people should at least fear God”.
About His Late Security Escort
Speaking further, Prophet Chris Okafor stated that, “it is surprising that someone can put all these lies together against my person. The name of my security escort, who was killed, was Adamu, a policeman from MOPOL 22, Ikeja. Anybody truly practising investigative journalism should go to MOPOL 22 in Ikeja to confirm from Police authorities. The remains of the late policeman were taken to his home state in the North for burial before I was released. It was accompanied by some church members and the church has not abandoned his family since then”. Still speaking on the altar, Prophet Chris Okafor called on one of the church members, a serving Commissioner of Police to come out and confirm to the congregation about the dead security escort and the top police officer confirmed that indeed, Adamu was killed during the incident.
Why Prophet Chris Okafor Looked Fresh On Arrival in Lagos
On the claim that Prophet Chris Okafor returned to Lagos looking unruffled, Prophet Chris Okafor said “they also said I did not look like someone who was kidnapped when I returned to Lagos. Did they expect me to run back to Lagos the way I was released? When I was released, I was looking scruffy, haggard and unkempt. My bears were longer than that of Osama Bin Laden. I had to stay back with my parents for some days to take care of myself before coming back to Lagos. So I think it is idiotic and tactless of anyone to claim that I didn’t look like someone abducted”, Prophet Chris Okafor explained.
On Magodo Estate Plot of Land
During his explanation to the church, Prophet Chris Okafor also cleared the air about the accusation that he obtained a plot of land from a female member of the church under false pretence. Before the whole congregation, the female member in question, Mrs Dorothy Igbanor came out to confirm that the she willingly sowed the piece of land as a seed to the church without any coercion or manipulation from anybody. Contrary to earlier report, Mrs Dorothy Igbanor affirmed that the plot of land solely belonged to her and not to any of her son or brother in Switzerland or anywhere and that, she had been in possession of the land for the past 16 years. According to her, she had made several attempts to sell the land without success. At a point she said she was even ready to sell it for as low as N4Million, yet there was no buyer. It was when it eventually dawned her that the failure to get buyers for the land was due to a spell cast on it by land speculators (Omo Onile), that she decided to sow it as seed to the church, being full of faith that God would reward her in multiple folds. Mrs Igbanor’s son, Mr Bashiru Igbanor, a lawyer standing beside her, also affirmed all mother’s explanations to the congregation and later to newsmen. The Prophet also revealed that about sixteen charms were exhumed from the land before anything could be built on it.
Prophet Chris Okafor, who was obviously piqued by the story, reminded the church that, he as a person did not embarked on any personal project until he had finished the current church building. Clarifying further, he said “you all know that I don’t touch church money and I will never do, because that is the covenant I have with God. I am only one of the signatories to the church account”.
Earlier during the service in the church’s auditorium, which was filled to capacity, Prophet Chris Okafor’s prophetic anointing was in full demonstration with straight-to-the-point prophetic utterances about the past of some members of the congregation. With shouts of 'Oracle' from the congregation filling the air.
Suave and very articulate Phrophet Chris Okafor's eloquence and erudition were simply enchanting. He later appealed to media practitioners to always adhere strictly to the ethics of the profession by investigating all stories properly before publishing. Speaking further, Prophet Chris Okafor also addressed as O'Talk Na Do, stated that Mountain of Liberation and Miracles Ministries is media friendly and open to everybody. He also debunked the allegation that a reporter was beaten up in the church’s premises, explaining that the reporter later confessed to him that he deliberately created a scene in the church premises in order to get his attention,having tried severally to see him (to collect the money he claimed the church was owing his organisation over the supply of some copies of newspaper) without success.
On what Nigeria should do to overcome its present security challenges, Prophet Chris Okafor said "if President Goodluck Jonathan calls me today, i will tell him what God wanted him to do and there will be instant solution to Boko Haram and other security challenges". He also said it is a huge insult for Boko Haram to tell President Jonathan to convert to Islam or resign.
It was indeed a revealing encounter!