It is an irony to wonder if a priest is reformed because priesthood strongly suggests reformation. But it is difficult to avoid this question concerning the controversial Catholic cleric, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, who has a reputation for making high-profile political prophecies and scathingly attacking alleged underperformers in power.
Interestingly, the beginning of Nigeria’s 2023 election campaigns in September coincided with the unbanning of Mbaka, who had been sanctioned in June for making political remarks that were unacceptable to the leadership of the Enugu Catholic Diocese. Mbaka is the head of the Adoration Ministry, Enugu, which was closed while the ban was in force. The church reopened for its first mass on October 2 following Mbaka’s return to duty.
He had got into trouble regarding his stinging criticism of Labour Party presidential candidate Peter Obi, whom he described as “a stingy man,” adding that “he is going nowhere.”
His reasons? Referring to Obi’s political problems in his first term as governor of Anambra State, which ended in 2010, Mbaka had said: “When he was chased out of Government House, he knew the role I played to bring him back, but how did he pay me back? … Ask Peter since then what he used to reward Adoration.”
So, it seemed like a case of a bitter, unforgiving priest against an alleged ungrateful politician.
Mbaka eventually apologised for putting Obi down following the intervention of the diocese leadership. “I am a servant of God. For the sake of peace, I ask for forgiveness in any way I am misunderstood,” he had said.
The cleric is used to controversy connected with his political comments. The public is also used to his romance with controversy. In May 2021, for instance, he had said: “By now, with what is happening, President Buhari should honourably resign… If you can’t do it, either you resign or you be changed… Either Buhari resigns by himself or he will be impeached.”
Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu, well known for his combativeness, had attributed the priest’s position to an alleged grudge. He claimed that Mbaka was hostile because he had unsuccessfully asked the president for contracts as compensation for his support.
Remarkably, Mbaka, who was ordained a priest of the Roman Catholic Church in 1995, had controversially prophesied victory for Buhari over then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015. This was perhaps his greatest political prophecy. When the prophecy happened, the prophet became the one to watch.
But in 2018 he told President Buhari to forget about reelection. He had said: “As I was waiting on the Lord, I’m asked to advise you, don’t come out for a second tenure; after this, retire peacefully. Come back to yourself or you will cry by the time you will be sent out of office. Those who are encouraging you to come out and run again want to disgrace you shamefully and publicly.” Buhari was reelected in 2019.
Not surprisingly, Mbaka drew public attention following the fulfillment of his prophecy that Hope Uzodimma would become Imo State governor after the removal of Emeka Ihedioha. It seemed far-fetched because of Uzodimma’s position in the governorship election result announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He had declared: “I bless Hope Uzodimma, and empower him to spiritually take over.” It’s food for thought that the Supreme Court judgement, in January 2020, was consistent with his prophecy. It was bragging time, and a euphoric Mbaka took advantage of it.
It was striking when the priest, in May 2021, said of the same Uzodimma: “If he is receiving advice from this sanctuary, he will not be messing up.”
An incident reported in December 2020 depicted Mbaka in a bad light. He was said to have supported and encouraged his followers who manhandled a team of BBC journalists at his house in Emene town, Enugu State.
This account presents an ugly picture indeed. Chioma Obianinwa and Nnamdi Agbanelo were supposed to interview him at his church but were asked to follow him to his house after the church service to conduct the interview. Their driver, Ndubuisi Nwafor, was with them.
At the house, as they waited in the compound, they “were suddenly surrounded by about 20 men.” Obianinwa said the men seized their equipment, accused them of writing “negative reports about Mbaka,” and threatened to kill them.
According to her, “The men outside his house said BBC Igbo writes negative things about Mbaka and started beating Nnamdi, Solomon and Ndubuisi. They gave them heavy blows on their heads and all over their body.”
At one point, Mbaka came out of the house because of the noise. But he allegedly fuelled the assault, calling the reporter “satanic.” ”This fired up the men to continue the attacks as Father Mbaka continued shouting and abusing us,” she said. ”He asked his men to seize our phones and cameras. They said they would kill us and nothing would happen. They removed my wig and tried to strangle Nnamdi.”
The journalists faced danger. Obianinwa screamed that the world would know they were killed in Mbaka’s house. “At this point,” she said, “Father Mbaka asked us to leave before his men killed us. He asked them to return our equipment and they chased us out of the compound. His men trailed us till we left the state to seek medical assurance and police help.”
It sounds unbelievable. Such a conduct is not expected of a priest and his followers. Perhaps the devil was around in that compound that evening.
Mbaka’s silence on the report was not clarifying. Did such a thing happen as claimed by the alleged victims? Apart from his intriguing prophetic performances, he should not also be known for maltreating journalists.
Notably, he was suspended and activities at his church stopped because, according to the Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Callistus Onaga, some of his “teachings and utterances” were “not consistent with the teachings and faith of the Catholic Church.”
Mbaka has argued for prophetic performers, saying, “Those who are advocating banning prophecy are ungodly. The Catholic Church is a prophetic church. Stopping prophecy is closing the mouth of the Holy Spirit.”
This suggests that the public should expect political content and hot political prophecies from him now that he has returned to his duty post, and the 2023 elections are approaching. According to him, “I support good people and good governance.” Mbaka’s three-month punishment is unlikely to have reformed him.