The Catholic Diocese of Enugu has suspended Rev. Father Ejike Mbaka from church activities for one month.
Tthis was even as the controversial priest’s political escapades have continued to overshadow his theological obligations on a scale that nurtures unending concerns among his senior colleagues.
Mbaka was asked to proceed on suspension with effect from May 3 after being summoned by his Bishop, Callistus Valentine Onaga,
Onaga invited Mbaka following his repeated clashes with President Muhammadu Buhari and warned that his conduct was smearing the image of the church, the largest of any Christian organisation worldwide, church officials familiar with the matter told reporters in Enugu on Wednesday evening.
Mbaka quarred with Buhari’s aides in a series of verbal fireworks that included the Nigerian presidency threatening to blackmail the priest as a political jobber and public contract racketeer.but the priest denied the allegations.
Still, Mr Onaga and other senior reverend fathers of the Enugu Diocese were compelled to step in and mitigate the unfolding public perception tumult that could have far-reaching consequences for the conventional but unofficial church and state relationship.
The church leaders recognised that Mr Mbaka’s Adoration Ministry as an independent congregation that does not fall directly under the main church’s control, he could still be reined in as a priest under the Roman Catholic’s certification, officials said.
Following his suspension, Mbaka returned to his ministry at Emene suburb, near the Enugu metropolis, where he allegedly incited his members against the bishop, sources added.
Mbaka’s followers later claimed without evidence that he was kidnapped by Bishop Onaga and handed over to the Department of State Service, DSS. They then marched in protest to the premises of the bishop on Wednesday morning, looting and destroying church property there.
Also, some journalists, including Mr Mike Ubani and Ralph Ede who were at the Adoration Centre to ascertain whether Mbaka was actually missing escaped death by the whiskers as they were branded spies who must be lynched. They were saved by an elderly church officials who ensured that they left the premises without harm by taking them away in his private vehicle to a safe distance.
The mob also descended on the Holy Ghost Cathedral, again looting and destroying church belongings including sacred items before going to town to allege that the DSS had arrested Mbaka — generating widespread but false media reports.
A spokesman for the DSS denied taking Mbaka into custody or coming in contacts with him in a chat with the media.
Mbaka could not be reached on Wednesday night for his comments on the story.
Before falling out with officials of the Federal Government recently, Mbaka was a strong voice which campaigned for the President's victory in 2015 and claimed his blessings played a role in its success.
But as Mr Buhari’s regime failed to tackle acute poverty and insecurity, Mr Mbaka said he was compelled to speak up and distance himself from his regime, describing it as evil and satanic and calling on the president himself to vacate office.
Presidential Spokesman Garba Shehu subsequently issued a statement, claiming Mr Mbaka’s comments were out of anger following his unsuccessful attempts to corner lucrative federal contracts. The priest denied the allegations but confirmed that he recommended a group of security contractors to the president whose proposals were not acted upon.
Church sources hinted that Mbaka’s latest travail was not the first time as he had once been demoted
from a parish priest to a deputy under a parish priest,” church sources said. “He had also been transferred from bigger parishes to smaller ones for his frequent infractions in the past.”