A slew of Nigerian pastors made the news this year for wrong and debatable reasons. On this last Sunday of 2014, Pulse.ng brings you the 10 most controversial pastors of the year.
The Founder and Senior Pastor of Word of Life Bible Church tops our list of most controversial Nigerian pastors of 2014 for his involvement in the private jet caught smuggling $9.3 million into South Africa.
Ayo Orisejafor was fiercely criticised for his involvement in the whole scandal with many even accusing the Christian leader of being one of the financiers and backers of the insurgent sect, Boko Haram.
Pastor Orisejafor however denied any involvement revealing that he was the owner of the plane but had no idea it was going to be used for smuggling because he had leased it out to a company on a long term basis, who were themselves subleased it out to other companies for regular trips. He was later cleared of any misdoings in the matter.
Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor is seen by many as a PDP partisan because of his relationship with President Goodluck Jonathan which has made him a bête noire especially to the opposition parties.
Founding president of Believers' LoveWorld Incorporated popularly known as Christ Embassy, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome also had his controversial moment during the year under review.
Pastor Chris marital life came to the forefront when his wife, Anita, filed for divorce in August citing “adultery and unreasonable behaviour,” as her reasons. According to the reports, the divorce case with Suit No FD14D01650, was filed on April 9, 2014 at Divorce Section A, Central Family Court, First Avenue House, High Holborn, London, UK.
The pastor however released a statement later denying the allegations as he described the allegations as “frivolous charges.”
It has also been reported that a tussle had begun between the pastor and his estranged wife, Anita over the ownership of the UK branch of the church. It was reported in October that Pastor Chris has been kicked out as a trustee of the branch.
As the divorce battle rages, Mrs. Oyakhilome’s profile has been pulled down from the church’s website.
Accusations and abuses were directed to popular televangelist, Pastor T.B Joshua following the collapse of a guest house at the Synagogue Church of God, Lagos on Friday, September 12 killing at least 116 people. Pastor T.B Joshua was criticised for reportedly adding two extra storeys to the guesthouse which many people blamed the collapsed on. He was accused of trying to bribe journalist so as to cover-up some reports about the collapse and became a hated figure in South Africa after the country lost about 84 of its citizen in the collapse.
One of Nigeria’s most controversial pastors of 2014 has to be Dr. Sign Fireman who was arrested in January in connection to the murder of a 12-year-old girl, Bose. A teenage boy who allegedly was a member of Fireman’s church was arrested by the police for strangling Bose while trying to forcefully obtain faeces from her. The suspect confessed that he was asked by the controversial pastor to get the feaces of a virgin girl and that he was promised the sum of N 100,000 for the assignment. He later denied any involvement in the killing and was set free by the police.
After his incendiary statement that “all Catholics worship Satan, they will go to hell” in late 2013, Pastor Chris Okotie never stayed away from controversies in 2014. The Delta State preacher was involved in an exchange of words with leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria. After calling for the resignation of the president of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor over his involvement in the $9.3m smuggled into South Africa, CAN responded, questioning his doctrines as a pastor and accused him of not keeping to the Bible’s standard of one man, one wife. “Is Chris Okotie a Christian? How many wives has he? Was the questioned posed by the director of national issues of CAN. In the year 2014, a former keyboardist and church worker at the Rev. Chris Okotie led Household of God Church, Okiotor Dafiaghor, a.k.a. Dafphee, opened up on what he termed the messy sexcapades of the twice divorced man of God and also said he has sued the pastor over unpaid salaries.
The only posthumous mention on this list; even in death controversies never left Prophet Elijah Iretiola Ajanaku. Several controversial reports emerged about the pastor after his death. His widow, Joy Ajanaku and some elders of the church reportedly refused to bury him because they were convinced he was going to resurrect. It was also rumoured that about 27 members of the Ogboni Confraternity visited his place and spent time with his corpse and also insisted that they wanted to handle the funeral of the Osun state pastor instead of the church, prompting speculations that he was a member of the confraternity. Some of his alleged sexcapades also came to light during his death. He was finally buried in July 2014, eleven months after his death.
Former filmmaker and General Overseer of Liberty Gospel Church, Apostle Helen Ukpabio, was banned from the UK in 2014 after she was seen as a threat to the youth. In April, popular British newspapers reports accused her of torturing, maiming and even causing the death of some children in the event of forcing them to confess to being witches and wizards. Later in the month, the British Homeland Security revealed that the Akwa Ibom State born preacher had been deported to Nigeria. Helen Ukpabio is known for her crusades for “stopping witchcraft” which earned her the title “Witch Hunter".
Pastor of Mountain of Liberation Miracles Ministries, Dr. Chris Okafor, made major news this year for a very controversial reason. The pastor was accused by his estranged wife, Bessem Okafor, of assault at their home in Magodo, Lagos. Bessem told Punch that the pastor beat her thoroughly when she visited the home to see her children who were in his custody. Bessem Okafor, has been separated from Dr Okafor for two years and lived apart from him before the alleged assault. This year, reports also emerged that members of his church are flogged and beaten thoroughly all in the name of Christ.
The founder and General Overseer of Living Faith Church also known as Winners’ Chapel was heavily scrutinised by the British media in 2014. An inquiry was set up by the UK Charitable Commission to investigate the accusation by the media that his church was “cynically exploiting supporters”. The case of him slapping a girl some years ago was also brought up as it was reported that various groups protested against the pastor’s wish to open a University in the UK because he believed in witchcraft. Reports later emerged that he was barred from entering into the United Kingdom, which he denied. The British Government through its Charity Commission, in November also revealed that they are considering the financial information provided by the church and not probing the clergy.
Pastor Tunde Bakare
While the whole world was campaigning for the release of over 200 Chobok girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, Pastor Tunde Bakare decided to join but his attempt was besieged with controversy and criticisms. The photo of him holding the “Bring Back our Girls” placard shows him smiling, which many people thought was disrespectful to the course. He however told Sahara Reporters that he had smiled because God is bigger than the militant group. In 2014, the General Overseer of the Latter Rain Assembly, also made another debatable comment when he compared the Christian anointing oll to a mere mosquito repellent, saying that the Jewish people actually used the oil to ward off insects.