For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time. (Matthew 24: 24) This statement was made by Jesus Christ centuries ago, to warn his followers to be wary of self-acclaimed servants of God who are wolves in sheep clothing.
Unfortunately, today, those who fail to heed the warning always pay dearly for it; some with their lives and others with emotional and psychological scars to show for it. Many find out too late. Some may not even know. Fake clergymen with titles, no matter the colouration of their religions, are usually held in high esteem by their followers, owing to what some consider as their spiritual prowess. However, this does not imply that all who go by the name pastor are fake. Several of them are indeed working according to the tenets of their callings. However, the condemnable ones seem to be denting the image of this revered people, following their involvements in unthinkable acts. Acts such as fake miracles, rape, extortion and killing of human beings for ritual purpose have been recorded by some unscrupulous elements who hide under the umbrella of “Man of God”. Interestingly, while some of them have been arrested and arraigned in several courts across the nation, in order to serve as deterrence to others, their likes are however still soaring in the unimaginable acts.
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One of the recent cases of fake miracles by pastors is that of an unnamed pastor and two others, who were arrested by the 2 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, for alleged faked miracles and healing to deceive church members and the public. The Army Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Command, Captain Eli Lazarus, parading the suspects, said the pastor and his accomplices conned several members, and added that the pastor and his collaborators, whose names he didn’t mention, were arrested following a tip-off from a member of the church, who complained of immoral and fraudulent activities going on in the church. The 27-year-old pastor and founder of the church allegedly confessed to have paid his collaborators undisclosed amount of money to give false testimonies. The suspect allegedly also confessed to duping unsuspecting members of the public of various sums of money. This is now common in many churches. And human beings, especially Nigerians, are very gullible in religious matters. And since people now pray more for miracles and riches the fake pastors are increasing with many thriving in their business.
When pastors rape
Raping has easily been associated with pastors lately. For instance, a 46-year-old pastor, Ifeanyi Bernard, was arrested by the Nasarawa State Police Command for allegedly raping a 13-year-old girl in the Karu Local Government Area of the state, last November. The unsuspecting teenager (name withheld) had gone for a deliverance session in the pastor’s house, only to be raped. At the end, Pastor Bernard, who was also a close family friend to the victim’s parents, warned her not to tell anyone, and threatened to kill her if she did. But when the bubble burst, Pastor Bernard admitted to the claim, disclosed that he lured the teenager to his house with his anointing oil. He blamed his indulgence on the handiwork of the Devil. There are many of such pastors today.
Incestous, adulterous pastors
Another astonishing case was that of the arrest of the General Overseer of Holy Trinity Ministry, popularly called Vineyard Ministry in Umudikwere Community in the university town of Nsukka, Enugu State, Timothy Ngwu, for allegedly impregnating married women and young girls in his church. In his confessional statement to the Police, the suspect claimed he was directed by the Holy Spirit to sexually abuse female members. The alleged sexual exploits of the self-acclaimed man of God was blown open by his estranged wife, Veronica Ngwu, after she reported the act at the Anti-Child Trafficking Unit of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Enugu, thereby leading to his arrest. Veronica told detectives that she escaped from the ministry with one of her daughters after her husband impregnated her niece on grounds that he acted under prophetic revelation. Investigations showed that these fake clergymen capitalise on the gullibility of some of their members, particularly women, most of whom are experiencing delay in childbirth.
Extorting, dubious pastors
In April 2010, Sunday Onyegu, a 37-year-old pastor in Lagos was detained for allegedly duping a trader. He eventually confessed to have collected the sum of N150,000 from a trader that came to him for spiritual assistance. Reports said Mr. Ibrahim Shettima, the trader, went to Pastor Onyegu for spiritual assistance to enable him recover his money from his debtors whom he said had refused to pay him after he supplied some goods to them in Adamawa State. In the course of praying for him, the pastor asked Ibrahim to pay N150,000 for the prayers, to enable him prepare some spiritual items that would be useful in the recovery of his money. Ibrahim, being desperate, paid the requested amount and was given a specific time when his five debtors would turn up and pay him his money. It was after the specified time elapsed and his debtors did not show up that the problem of the pastor began as Ibrahim alerted the police.
Fetish acts in the house of the Lord
In December 2015, the Police in Benin arrested one pastor for allegedly burying charm in his church premises in Benin. The identity of what the suspect buried was unknown even though residents around the church located along Esigie Street 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 the fateful day 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.
Juju for miracles
In late 2015, there emerged stories of a fetish pastor who was caught using juju powers for miracles in Imo State. The General Overseer of Holiness of Heaven Ministries located at Orlu, Imo State, was caught and paraded around the town by angry youths for using diabolical means to perform miracles and healing. The pastor who, until his fall from grace, was said to be very powerful that top politicians, contractors, businessmen, barren women, the sick and downtrodden, trooped to his church to seek one miracle or the other. They often left satisfied with his miracles, not knowing that the pastor had a very powerful native doctor, popularly called ‘Dibia’ behind what appeared to be his great powers. It was gathered that the ‘Juju’ man was actually the one the pastor got his powers from and never performed any God-ordained miracle.
During the Christmas season of 2015, the pastor and general overseer of a church in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State was arrested for killing his church member. A respected man of God and Founder/General Overseer of God’s Power City Church, Pastor Gideon Idio was arrested by the State Police Command for allegedly murdering a female church member, Joanna Okon, during an altercation that occurred in his office. It was gathered that Pastor Idio had invited the deceased to his office for an undisclosed assignment which later turned violent and he allegedly strangled her to death.
Fake pastors and the Rev. King fate
It will be recalled that convicted General Overseer of the Christian Praying Assembly, Chukwuemeka Ezeugo a.k.a. Rev. King, had taken his case up to the Supreme Court to challenge his death sentence. However, on Friday, February 26 the apex court okayed the death sentence by hanging. His crime was the murder of a church member, Ann Uzoh. Though some of the victims of these condemnable pastors have had their day in court, there are still many of these pastors out there committing all these atrocities in the name of the Lord. So, what becomes of them? Like Rev. King, they may get their lawful payment some day soon, the Rev. King way.
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