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LIKE ‘MOTHER’, LIKE ‘SON’!...How King’s mentor was almost nailed for murder

Posted by By Chika Abanobi on 2007/01/22 | Views: 1794 |

LIKE ‘MOTHER’, LIKE ‘SON’!...How King’s mentor was almost nailed for murder


Like father, like son. Like root, like offshoot. Like stem, like branch. Those are the best aphorisms that may be used to describe the Rev. King phenomenon as there now appears to be a parallel to the King episode.

Like father, like son. Like root, like offshoot. Like stem, like branch. Those are the best aphorisms that may be used to describe the Rev. King phenomenon as there now appears to be a parallel to the King episode.

This is the nugget of a new book, titled: All Christian Practical Praying Band (Ekpere Ufuma): 50 Years of Evangelism, written by Laz Ugwuanyi, an engineer and a native of Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area, Enugu State, also the current leader of Abakpa Nike branch of ACPPB, Enugu. Remember, Rev. King has just been convicted for the murder Ann Uzor, a female member of his church, who he bathed with petrol and set ablaze for alleged fornication.

However, that tragedy may have perfectly copied a similar one that occurred in Njikoka Local Government of Anambra state, in 1983, where Madam Sophie Nwokolo, the late co-founder of the All Christian Practical Praying Band, ACPPB, otherwise known as Ekpere Ufuma, was also charged with murder over the death of a young medical doctor from Enugwu-Ukwu.

For those who don’t know, Ekpere Ufuma, a religious sect widely-known and feared in Igboland and beyond, for their adroitness at prophetic visions, mysterious revelations and predictions, is where Chukwuemeka Ezeuko, alias Rev. King, cut his prophetic teeth as a visioner before he broke away, sometime in 1999, to form his Christian Praying Assembly, CPA.

The name, Ekpere Ufuma, which translates as ‘Ufuma Prayers’ or ‘Prayer Band’, is the derisive name that Igbos used to call the religious movement founded by Papa Eleazer Nwokolo, a former Anglican catechist, and his wife, Sophie, in 1957. The prayer band founded by the couple from Umunebo-Ufuma, a place close to Oko, the hometown of Dr. Alex Ekwueme, former vice president of Nigeria, later metamorphosed into a big religious movement when its fame and activities spread like harmattan fire throughout Igboland.

For want of a better name, Igbos chose to derisively call it Ndi Ekpere Ufuma or Ekpere Ufuma, as the case may be. That is to say, ‘Prayers’, ‘Prayer Warriors’ or ‘Prayer Band’ from Ufuma, so named after the town where the founders come from. The movement was to later change its name to All Christian Practical Praying Band, ACPPB. Today, it has many branches in the eastern and northern parts of Nigeria, as well as Lagos.

But in 1983, the movement, which had, until then, generated a lot of controversies similar to Rev. King’s, because of what was seen then as its ‘unusual’ religious practices like seeing of vision, use of holy water and holy oil, became embroiled in a murder case when its co-founder, Madam Sophie Nwokolo, now deceased, and two other members of the church, were charged with the murder, in mysterious circumstances, of a young medical doctor, brought to Ufuma by his stepmother, apparently, for prayers.
Ugwuanyi gave the facts and circumstances surrounding the murder charge in the new book. “The young man has had a case of mental disorder when he was still a student in the late seventies”, he explains. “At that time, he was brought to Ufuma and he was cured. After his cure, he went back to school. When his mental illness showed signs again, in 1983, the stepmother in company of the doctor’s junior brother and another person identified as a friend brought him to Ufuma.

“They arrived at night and were received at the yard by the assistant yard leader, Mr. Benji Uke. Because he had been to the headquarters before, they were given a place at the sick bay. Early the next morning the young doctor was found in a pool of his own blood. His genitals had been severed and eyes gorged out. There was pandemonium. The yard leader was dumbfounded. All they could say was that the young man was sleeping when the group arrived and they were not sure if the man came in with the genitals and eyes gone, as there was no public power in Ufuma then.

“As embarrassing as the situation was, the police was called in. Soon the entire headquarters was swarming with policemen who promptly arrested the co-founder, the late Madam Sophie Nwokolo, the yard leader, the late Goddy Okeke and his assistant, Benji Uke. While the doctor was taken to the hospital, those arrested were taken to the state police headquarters in Enugu.

“In a statement, the doctor’s stepmother insisted that her son was normal when they arrived that night. The case took a new turn when the young man later died in the hospital. It became a homicide case.
“For the detractors of the praying band, that was a confirmation of their suspicion that more than just prayers took place at the headquarters. At Enugu-Ukwu, influential indigenes called for vengeance. Not satisfied with the action of police in putting ‘Mama’ behind the counter while the yard leaders were locked up, they pressed the matter and had the case immediately transferred to Alagbon (in Lagos)”.
But in Lagos, the same fears that initially attended the trial of Rev. King – of possible release by the powers that be and allowed to go scot-free from the murder charge, also came up in the case of Madam Nwokolo.

But in the book, Ugwuanyi is quick to come to her defence. He notes: “It is unthinkable that Mama Ufuma was being investigated for murder. Here is a woman reputed for saving souls during the Nigerian-Biafran civil war, a woman whose love for humanity was legendary, standing accused for murder. The praying band through whom God has saved many lives from debilitating illness has a case of murder about to be hung on her neck. The situation is a bad one but the members of the praying band were sure of one thing: the murder was not committed in our premises.”

Now, that is begging the question, isn’t it? Ugwuanyi admits as much in his book when he wrote: “Who did it and where it was carried out were the puzzling questions and it was obvious that unless answers to the two questions were found, the praying band remains the prime suspect. The act was discovered in her premises. The only recourse for the praying band was to pray to God (just as members of Christian Praying Assembly are now said to be doing for Rev. King), in his infinite mercy, to expose perpetrators of the crime and thereby vindicate Mama and the praying band”.

But did God answer their prayers? Ugwuanyi thinks he did. “After a thorough investigation”, he writes, “the police authorities closed the case and Mama, along with the yard leaders, were promptly released”.
This is where Rev. King’s case differs from Madam Nwokolo’s. Whereas Madam Nwokolo was released to die peacefully (she passed on to the great beyond on June 6, 2006 and was buried on October 12, 2006), Rev. King has just been condemned to die by hanging. Maybe, if he had not claimed to be god, if he had prayed to God, not to himself, as members of Ekpere Ufuma did, who knows, he too might have been released.

Nobody knows what his murder case might turn up with yet, death or dirt, but in the case of Madam Nwokolo, it was a case of bad beginning making a good ending. Ugwuanyi tells what happened afterward: “Back in Enugu-Ukwu, rumours began to make the rounds that the stepmother of the doctor was responsible for what happened to her stepson, which eventually led to his death. It was a family feud and story had it that the woman wanted the doctor out of the way, so that her own biological son could take the place of the first son in the family. It was thus suspected that when the doctor began to manifest signs of his mental ill health again, the woman decided to take him to Ufuma, where he was earlier healed of the same illness.

“The speculation then was that she, not wanting him alive, carried out the act, with, of course, the active connivance of a professional, and literally dumped him at Ufuma later in the night. The only proof of this speculation came in form of public disgrace of this woman carried out by the women of Uruokwe village, Enugu-Ukwu.

“This involved dressing the woman in rags and having such other things as snail shells hung on her neck and, then parading her around the Nkwo Enugwu-Ukwu market square. In Igbo culture, this is known as ogba na ajirija and it is the highest disgrace for one who has committed an abomination.”
Rev. King had, during his trial, hinted at the fact that some members of his church had been jealous of late Ann Uzor over his promise to buy her a car for her efficient management of Aba branch of his church.

In his own case, could they have been the ones who asked Kelechi to pour fuel on the dead Ann Uzor? Could they have been the ones who struck the match and threw it on the petrol-drenched lady? Could these jealous members have been the ones who, according to Rev. King’s testimony, refused to explain how the ‘fuel generator explosion’ came about?

If so, members of Christian Praying Assembly will need to pray hard so that God or Rev. King himself (since he claims to be god) could fish out those who committed this atrocity. Just the same way perpetrators of the dastardly murder case involving Madam Nwokolo were eventually fished out.
In fact, if there is any wear that CPA members will need to put on, at such a time as this when their founder/leader has been transferred to a condemned prisoners’ cell, waiting to keep a date with the hangman, it is not the other one emblazoned with Rev. King’s picture and proclaiming him as the “the man of the moment”, but this one, a T-shirt, with a picture of well-worn jean trousers torn at the knee points and, bearing with it the screaming message: pray hard!

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Joel Efiong(Calabar, Nigeria)says...

This is a great piece. The examination bodies should hire you as ICT consultant.

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Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

ULIMASI means' GOD,THANK YOU' not THANK GOD.

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Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

The name ULIMASI is from the UTUGWANG tribe in OBUDU local government area of CROSS RIVER STATE in Nigeria.

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Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding