Report By Aloysius Attah
It was on a Sunday in a Pentecostal church located at Awka Road, Onitsha. The pastor in charge had invited me to come and cover the grand finale of their annual convention. I sauntered into the premises around 9 am when the Pastor’s wife was doing the exhortations. About one hour later, the pastor took charge. He preached about power of praise and the need to praise God no matter the situation. He talked about the political scene in Anambra state and the need for the people to get actively involved so that God will give us another messiah after Peter Obi. As he launched into anointing prayer and declared that no evil man will ever occupy the seat of Anambra government house come March 17 2014, they sauntered into the church. Three in tow, one identified as Mr. C. C. Nnorom putting on Ngige wrapper design, another in a black Roman collar like a priest and the third unidentified.
They were given the floor to address the congregation in jiffy. The man on Ngige uniform said they are the Inter-religious team of Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige campaign organization. He said they have been visiting many churches while other members of the team were on the same mission in other churches even as he spoke. He said they have come to tell the people the ‘truth’ why Ngige is the messiah. He said to lend credence to what he is saying they have a catholic priest among them who will talk to the people shortly. He talked how Anambra has been ‘retrogressing’ since Peter Obi came on board (The people murmured at this stage showing signs of disapproval on what he said) a direct contrast to what the state looked like when Onwa was in the saddle. He promised the pastor that Ngige will take him and the church away from a rented apartment and build a magnificent church for him immediately he gets back to Awka government House and other things bla, bla, bla.
He then handed over the microphone to the man in Roman collar whom the people were really in doubt whether he is a catholic priest for real. The man grabbed the mic, touched his small beards and introduced himself as Rev. Fr. Livinus Udemba , CSSP. Immediately he did the introduction, I adjusted my seat to face him squarely. I am a catholic and I know the CSSP priests addressed as Holy Ghost Fathers or the Spiritans. Most of them are very much devoted in their calling owing to the nature of their training but the one I am seeing face to face was a direct opposite. I also wondered what a catholic priest is doing in a Pentecostal church on a Sunday not to talk of coming to campaign for Ngige against the precepts of the Cannon Law. As I gazed at him, he dropped another bomb when he said: “I belong to the category of priests known as the mad priests. Our CSSP congregation to me is Community Secondary School Products”. I twitched myself in amazement and embarrassment as he went on to rabble and described Dr. Chris Ngige as junior Jesus Christ who laid down his life to liberate his people
He told the congregation that he is working as a civil servant under Mr. Peter Obi in the state Ministry of Youths and Sports but he has no apologies for owing his loyalty to Dr. Chris Ngige who employed him when he was governor in the year 2003.
Justifying Ngige’s visit to Okija shrine at the height of his romance with his now estranged godfathers, Fr. Udemba said: “Pastor, you know that all of us are men of God. You know that it is not what we were taught in the theology school that we tell our congregation. Jesus Christ was tempted by the devil and He followed the devil even to the pinnacle where devil showed Him all the riches of the world. Anambra state started to have something good in 2003 when Ngige was governor and because of that I see Chris Ngige as a junior Jesus Christ”
“I see him as the only candidate who had manifested certain traits of Jesus Christ. That is his sufferings and pains that liberated Anambra state. Therefore as a priest that believes in the political or the social revolution of Jesus Christ, I see in Chris Ngige a man who has come closer to that character, and that’s why I go everywhere for him and with him, trying to convince everybody to vote for him” he said.
To confirm that he is really a mad priest, Fr. Udemba joined the two others to kneel down in front of the pastor as he prayed and blessed them. At the end of the service, he also joined the two at the pastor’s office to take snacks and apple drink before they left probably to another church for continuous ‘Ngige evangelism’
On getting home, I was so desirous of knowing more about the self styled and controversial priest. I kept wondering how a catholic priest that spent 17 years in the course of formation from secondary school, Philosophy and Theology courses coupled with apostolic works could act like that. I called Fr. Chukwuemeka Agbonome, the Provincial Superior of the Holy Ghost Congregation who was once a resident priest at Our Lady of Fatima, Woliwo, Onitsha where I stayed in the late 90s. Fr. didn’t pick his calls on time and I headed to the internet to goggle and research on Fr. Udemba. It was when I scaled through the internet that I shouted “I for say”.
The dossier on Fr. Udemba was not palatable at all. He was actually ordained a priest for the Holy Ghost Congregation in 2001. He hails from Ukpor in Nnewi South Local Government of Anambra State and was supposed to work in Abuja before he was sent back to Anambra without any assigned portfolio after working briefly at the Spiritan Farms.
Fr. Udemba is really a staff of the Anambra State Civil Service employed by Ngige where he has been allegedly desecrating the catholic priesthood which led to his suspension from celebrating mass by his congregation. Sources at the office alleged that Fr. doesn’t differentiate between married and single women while craving to satisfy his emotional desires. It got to a head at a point where he allegedly impregnated a lady in a hotel in Awka owned by Onwa himself among other abominable and rebellious acts. The priest had at a time contested for the State House of Assembly seat against the directives of the Cannon law and his congregation.
The Provincial Superior of the Holy Ghost Congregation, Rev. Fr. (Arc) Peter Chukwuemeka Agbonome later saw my text and called back confirming that Udemba was actually ordained for their congregation but he has fallen out of grace and has been on suspension for sometime now.
“I know him quite well. He has been on suspension from public ministry for some years now owing to his conducts and all efforts we made to rehabilitate him have been in vain. As priests we cannot openly canvass for a politician not to talk of when a catholic priest will now visit a Pentecostal church on a Sunday, talk about a governorship candidate and defending the indefensible. That is apostasy and it simply tells you that he is no more on the right track but your information to me now will help us in handling the issue properly” Fr. Agbonome said.