POPULAR Lagos Pastor and General Overseer of Mountain of Liberation and Miracles Ministry, Prophet (Dr.) Chris Okafor has in the past few months grabbed headlines for different reasons. One of such was when an online news portal wrote that the pastor controversially took over a landed property from a member of his church, Mrs. Dorothy Igbanor, which was contested by one of the children of the woman, who is based in Switzerland. News also has it that the pastor’s kidnap story was a farce to extract money from his congregation. But Dr. Chris Okafor is insisting all those negative stories about him were meant to bring down the name he built over the years. “They are tissues of lies just to bring me down. We are a responsible church where we raise role models and not rascals. The pastor spoke at his Ojodu, Lagos church premises and on other issues.
Let us first address the issue of the land at Magodo, which they said you collected from Mrs. Igbanor controversially?
All those stories are from people who want to distract me from doing the work of God. The Bible says, “The gate of hell shall not prevail when the church is marching on.” A lot of people, both home and abroad called me that they saw on the internet that I was involved in a 419 scam. The first person who brought it to my notice was the former Speaker, Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Godfrey Dikeocha. He told me to take it up but I said the battle is of the Lord. They wrote that the church collected a land from a member of the church but I thank God the woman is here and also her son, Barrister Bashir Igbanor. The land was never taken from her under false pretence. She gave it to God, nobody forced her to do so. I thank God you heard her and the son speak.
What do you have to say about the kidnap story?
I am a fan of investigative journalism, I want you to go to MOPOL 22 and check if there was a kidnap or not. One of the escorts officially given to me by the Inspector General of Police, his name is Adamu, he died in the process, go and see my jeep, it was riddled with bullets. I was in the kidnappers den for 53 days. I was kidnapped alongside former Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly and one businessman from Nnewi who died in our presence at night. I spent two weeks at St. Nicholas Hospital, Lagos, after I gained freedom. We paid N6 million and somebody would wake up to write that there was never a kidnap that all that was cooked up. This is a free world, go and check from the police, it’s rather embarrassing to see people write the contrary. I nearly withdraw my children from their school when I heard their teachers told them I was kidnapped.
Is it true that your security men beat up a journalist who visited the church?
Normally, I don’t usually grant interview except on air TV evangelism. They were two, one from The Nation and the other Mirror. They came to the church to interview me and I granted them but after that day, the guy from Mirror kept coming to tell us he wants money that he wanted to be writing for the church. Later, he said he supplied the church 300 copies of their newspapers. I was told he came to the church to make all sorts of noise, I witnessed one of the scenarios where he told me he decided to cause commotion because each time he came around, the pastors don’t usually allow him to see me. Is that the best way to create attention? Later, he went to the police claiming we owe him N45,000 and we have settled him. This is a responsible church, we don’t raise rascals, we raise responsible people for the kingdom of God.
What will the church do with the land?
We have a building on it now, it’s for the pastorate. My pastors stay there, I also stay there sometimes. So, it’s still the church extension.
When the police invited you, why didn’t you honour their invitation to clear your name?
This is a church, we have pastors and our pastors and our lawyer went there. If they honoured police invitation then we are duly represented.
As a man of God, were you expected to place a curse on the person who wrote the story?
As a journalist, when you get a story, it is expected of you to investigate and then speak to the parties. The writer didn’t, which showed he is a quack. If you declare yourself an enemy of the church, you become an enemy of God. I have always adviced people never to write negative stories about men of God.
What is your take on the state of the nation, how do we move forward?
The only thing we need to do is pray. If the president can declare prayer sessions on the nation, then God will do something. Boko Haram is not stronger than God. If the president calls me now, I will tell him what to do for peace to reign in the country.
- FOLUSO SAMUEL
-This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, August 21, 2012