Reports of clerics sexually harassing, duping or even killing members of their congregations who come to them for deliverance, advice or assistance are common features in the media. PAUL OKAH takes a look at the negative development.
On a daily basis, the media is awash with news of clerics engaging in different types of atrocities, including duping, kidnapping, rape, and in extreme cases murder of unsuspecting members of their church.
Oftentimes, victims are women who allow themselves to be subjected to varying degrees of abuse in the quest for miracles or deliverance from perceived demonic spirits, poverty, childlessness, and other family problems. Some these women, especially married women, in their desperation, are taken advantage of, raped or impregnated by the supposed religious leaders.
It is now common to come across pictures or videos of supposed men of God squeezing breasts of women, whether married or single, in the name of performing miracles.
Some of these religious merchants posing as clerics have been reported to instruct ignorant followers to drink concoctions or buy religious artefacts that would make God answer their prayers.
Many popular pastors have been accused of sleeping with church members, though they denied such accusations, there appears to be more victims on a regular basis.
Victims narrate experience
Recently, a 19-year-old woman narrated how a popular broadcaster and pastor of the Celestial Church of Christ (CCC), Gbenga Filani, raped her inside his church premises in Ondo state, when she came for a “deliverance service”.
The pastor was reportedly arrested after the victim, simply identified as Bukola, made the allegation public.
Cleric raped me inside church
Narrating her ordeal to reporters at the Ondo State Police Command headquarters in Akure, the woman said the pastor allegedly poured anointing oil on her private parts before having a carnal knowledge of her inside the church.
The women, who was five-month-old pregnant, said: “In the morning, I went to the hospital to register. We usually have a programme every Wednesday.
On that fateful day, I went to church but unfortunately, they had ended the service.
“He collected the list I brought from the hospital. He said the items in the list given to me were too many.
“He later said I should go and make a photocopy which I did. After I had done it, he said I should take it to the altar, he said he would pray on the list.
“While I was sitting down, he started pressing my stomach, he asked me how many months was my pregnancy? I said it was five months.
“He said he was going to do some spiritual work me for before my delivery. He later stood up and entered a room. He called me to enter a room inside the church. He asked me to lie down which I did, he also said I should remove my clothes. I did all the things he asked me to do.
“He dipped his middle finger with oil into my private part. He said my baby was vertical instead of being horizontal. He said he would put oil in my private parts and would help me insert it with his private parts so that the oil would get into the baby.
“He rubbed oil on his private part and asked me to open my legs. He then had sex with me. He said he was not supposed to do it but helped me because my husband was not around. It was after he had sex with me that I came into my right senses.
“He said I should swear that I would not tell anyone including my mother. He said I would die if I told anybody. He did not put on his garment when we had the sex. When he was having sex with me, he gave me one small cross that I should put on my navel. He also gave me table water and poured perfume inside.
“He also asked me to drink a little out of the water and prayed for me, that I should be using it and that the baby would turn to normal position within three days.”
I narrowly escaped rape – Abuja resident
In a chat with our reporter, one of the victims of the atrocities of clerics in Abuja, who identified herself simply as Anita, said that she narrowly escaped being raped by a supposed man of God whom she had gone to for spiritual help.
She said: “There is this popular man of God in Abuja I was introduced to by a friend who worships in his church in Gwarinpa. I was single then and desperate to settle down as I was over 35.
“I started worshipping in his church with my friend. During a counselling session, he said I will spend three days in the church, fasting and praying. I did not find that difficult as I wanted to get a husband of my own and settle down.
“However, on the second day of the supposed prayers, I was not comfortable when I noticed the supposed man of God making advances at me.
“When he touched my breasts in the name of prayers, I knew it was the height of it as I had to leave the church. I have heard of women being molested by pastors, but I didn’t want to be one of them. Just by touching my breasts, I knew that man was fake. I had to run for my life.
“Though my friend defended the man, that was the end of my going there. Thank God I later got married as the experience with the man of God made me to re-evaluate myself and realise my desperation to settle down nearly pushed me into something else.”
Speaking further, she said, “My advice to women out there is not to let themselves to be used and abused by so called men of God because of promises of miracle, many of such pastors abound here in Abuja and are really taking advantage of desperate women, but thank God I didn’t fall a victim.”
‘Pay attention to building your member families’
On his part, a social commentator, Mr Eyinju Eledumare, advised clerics to desist from sleeping with church members under any guise, but to pay more attention to building their families.
He said: “Why do you see many men of God suddenly impregnate a sister in fellowship? Simply because the sister is a good cook. So, if a pastor loves this sister food more than his wife own, before you know it, she becomes special assistant to the pastor.
“There is always a secret malice and quarrel going on between a pastor’s wife and many women in the church. When a pastor jokingly calls other ladies ‘my wife’, they too will call the pastor ‘my husband’. Like play like play, they will get pregnant for the pastor.
“The moment you don’t honour and respect your wife before the church, the church won’t respect her. Many church members love their pastors, but dislike the pastors’ wives.
“They can relate well with their pastor, but the wife is an issue to them. Sometimes, a pastor even supports members against his wife and believe he’s trying to keep the member and that his wife can’t leave him.
“Give time and attention to your own house. Take a break, holiday or picnic. Have time to gist and play with your family. Your children miss you.
“Some of you are very busy giving your whole time to others, but not your family. Those people will go and it is your family that will remain. Focus on your home.”
Anointing can’s stop sexual immorality, flee from sin, cleric urges
Pastors seduced by members – Cleric
In a chat with our reporter, a pastor, David Elo, said that many clerics are seduced by church members, advising that clerics should cultivate the habit of avoiding temptations.
He said: “Every day now, it is one pastor sleeping and impregnating church ladies, but few years ago, I was warning on this fact and even wrote a book, The Sleeping Church and Powerless Orators. However, people called me, especially pastors, to either warn me or accuse me of fighting the body of Christ. But that is wrong. How can I do that? I am a member of the same body, but like Jeremiah, I was only warning that we need to be wise and vigilant because the devil is wise.
“Some of these pastors sleeping with ladies, even married women, are not fake, but were not wise. I remember a beautiful lady with a very rich husband and three little kids invited me to their mansion to hold night vigil. Of course, there was a lot of money to take care of my comfort time for coming.
“I simply told her: ‘Madam, your husband traveled out and your children are between the ages of seven to two and a house help that stays in the boys’ quarters, so it is just me and you inside the big sitting room, with mortuary standard AC and big food on the dining table.
“With all due respect ma, I don’t trust myself. My anointing has not reached that level to resist the devil in that situation. I am still in King David’s level of anointing ma, please let’s pray on the phone.
“Thank God for anointing, but wisdom is the principal thing, not anointing. If you want to go far in life, you need godly women to support you and if you must fail fast, you need women to help you fall. But all these pastors think their anointing can stop sexual immorality but it can’t. The Bible says ‘flee from sexual immorality’, not wait and pray.”