Authorities in Anambra State have halted the excesses of a man, Onyebuchi Okocha, who has been boasting in viral videos on social media to possess magical powers to enrich the people and raise the dead.
Okocha, known as Onyeze Jesus (Jesus announced king) and claiming to be a prophet, is the founder of Children of Light Ministry in Nkpor, Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State, Southeast Nigeria.
He has been seen in videos where he took adherents to bathe naked in a stream and offer sacrifices to enable them to acquire mystical powers to be rich.
Okocha in a recent video post on the social media boasted that he would go to the mortuary of a popular health facility in the commercial town of Onitsha in the state to raise seven dead persons on Jan. 28.
Members of Okocha’s congregation are mainly men and women desperately desirous of getting rich quick through the acquisition of magical powers to improve their businesses and other activities.
Adherents are seen in videos with the “prophet” bathing in river and making sacrificial offerings of animals and money in the hope of reaping huge rewards from their activities afterwards.
In some of the videos the “prophet” was seen giving some of his adherents money to invest in their businesses with the promise that their finances would grow and they would return in one year on thanksgiving.
Some of the videos also showed him displaying some items of Thanksgiving, including cars and cash, presented to him by adherents whose prayers had been answered.
However, some persons, who claimed to be victims of the prophet’s activities, have disputed the “prophet’s” claims and called on the government to intervene and save the population.
In an audio clip also in circulation on the internet, a man who identified himself as Jewis, said that he was defrauded by Onyeze Jesus (Okicha) and urged the government to stop his activities.
Jewis said he approached Okocha to help him to resolve some personal problems that he and members of his family were experiencing after watching his videos on Facebook.
He said in the process of resolving the family issues, Okocha talked him into believing that he could help him to improve his fortune through mystical powers.
Jewis said he was convinced to pay N250,000 to Okocha in the hope of reaping bountiful rewards and becoming influential but the dream did not materialise.
He described Okocha as a fraud and urged the government to intervene and save more people from falling victims.
Following the public outcry, the Anambra State Government in a statement described activities attributable to the “prophet’ as embarrassing, considering the reputation of the people.
Mr C-Don Adinuba, Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, in the statement noted that the people were known for their intellectual and entrepreneurial spirit.
Adinuba warned against ‘criminal and indecent conduct’ of ‘Onyeze Jesus’ in the name of religion.
He said the government was “in possession of some videos produced by one person who goes by the name of Onyeze Jesus where he not only claims to change the economic status of his adherents by magical means but also throws a lot of Nigerian currency notes into the river.”
The commissioner said Anambra State had been “subjected to global ridicule” by the actions of Okocha, which included the criminal offence of burning or destroying the naira.
“He compels his adult followers, both male and female, to bathe naked in the river and records them on video which he distributes gleefully to all manner of people through the internet and other means.
“The state government is appalled at the conduct of this man who promotes superstition and strife in society, he is fomenting serious troubles and instigating eternal enmity in various places and businesses.
“By forcing his disciples to have a bath naked in a river, then film the naked adults and distribute the videos across the globe, Onyeze Jesus is guilty of denying his followers the right to self-dignity.
“Anambra State is irrevocably committed to fundamental rights of freedom of worship and freedom of association. However, these freedoms should not lead to a situation where heinous crimes will be carried out with impunity, whether in the name of religion or not,” Adiuba said.
Similarly, Anambra Ministry of Health issued an advisory to health institutions in the state not to open their mortuary to any element who approached them for the purpose of resurrecting dead bodies.
The ministry in the statement signed by Mr Linus Nwankwo stated that most dead bodies in morgues were largely suspected to be victims of COVID-19 and might expose unprotected persons, including the “prophet” and his followers, to health emergencies.
“Recently, Onyeze Jesus posted another video stating that he will raise seven dead bodies back to life from the mortuary of a notable hospital in Onitsha on Jan. 28 and this news has caused a lot of tension amongst various stakeholders in the health sector of our dear state.
“The prevalence of the new COVID-19 strain, which has led to the death of some person(s) in the state, is of immense concern as it is a known fact that some persons may have died as a result of being infected with the deadly strain of the virus without confirmation.
“Close contact with a dead body spreads the virus and since we have no confirmation on the cause of the death of the dead, such practice would not be condoned in any part of our dear state.
“In view of the foregoing, all health facilities and morgues are advised not to make their facilities available for his planned “magic” scheduled to hold on Jan. 28 and adequate punitive measures will be meted out on any defaulter,” the health ministry said.
Meanwhile, Okocha has apologised to the government and the public for his actions and said he meant no ill.
The “prophet” said he did not waste the money he sprayed and did not burn the currency as there were some persons around the sacrifice scene to pick them and ensure they were not carried away by water.
But in spite of the apology, the police on Wednesday arrested the prophet.
CSP Haruna Mohammed, the Police Public Relations Officer in Anambra State, confined the arrest.
However, some residents of the state said that the arrest of Onyeze Jesus was unnecessary as there had been other self-acclaimed pastors in his mold in the past.
They said one Prophet Chukwuemexka Ohanaemere had boasted that he would walk on River Niger to demonstrate his spiritual powers but apologised a day before his planned action.
Some said Okocha might just be seeking attention and arresting him would make help him to achieve his goal.
(Additional report by Augustine Okoroafor)
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