Fiery Catholic priest, Rev. Father Ejike Mbaka is in the eye of the storm. Thousands of worshipers and members of his Adoration Ministry, Enugu Nigeria (AMEN), on Wednesday, last week, took to the streets of Enugu in violent protest over the sudden disappearance of their ‘Spiritual Director’.
At the end of the protest, which lasted over four hours, property belonging to the Catholic Church, including the residence of the Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Most Rev. Callistus Onaga, were destroyed.
The protest, which had never been witnessed in the state almost, led to anarchy in the town. It was quelled when the ‘missing’ Mbaka reappeared in a black SUV at about 2.50pm, urging his followers to go back to their homes or the Adoration Ground, that he was safe.
But before then, the residence of the bishop had been vandalized; windows were shattered while air conditioners were damaged. Even water installations were not spared. It took the intervention of some individuals to stop the house from being set ablaze.
Mbaka has been in the public eye for quite some time. In 2014, he had prophesised that General Muhammadu Buhari, then presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) would defeat former President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 polls.
His prophecy drew the ire of many, especially in the old Eastern region where Jonathan had teeming supporters.
Barely three years later, he spoke vehemently against the same Buhari’s government that he had prayed for. He warned Nigerian leaders of a looming disaster, which he said would be sparked by the unmitigated bloodletting in the country, while calling on the President to go to Rome to atone for the human carnage going on in the country under his watch.
“Supernatural disaster is coming. Angels are already warming up. Nigerians should not worry; one day there will be vacancy from Abuja. The jet will park and nobody will use it unless they repent.”
According to him, had it been that it was the Imams that were killed in Benue or Plateau, the president would have attended their burials.
“God can prophesy someone into a position. If you know how Nebuchadnezzar became the President. He went there under prophetic order. When God wants to punish His people, He can use a leader. The Nebucadnezzar God later pushed into the bush.”
He further said that President Buhari was like an egg that was bound to meet a sledgehammer in the nearest future, charging those who were close to the president to ensure he got his message.
He called himself a microphone speaking as directed by God warning that anybody who would want to attack him because of the message would meet his waterloo.
That is Rev. Father Camillus Ejike Mbaka, Spiritual Director of Adoration Ministry of Enugu, Nigeria (AMEN).
Arguably, one of the most unconventional Catholic priests in Nigeria; Mbaka’s methods and tactics have endeared him to many, with thousands of followers trooping to the adoration ground located at Umuchigbo, Iji Nike; Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu State for spiritual encounter every Friday.
For all the followership, Mbaka is no stranger to controversies; he rather seems at home with them. No wonder one can hardly think of any other priest that divides opinion more than the charismatic priest.
In fact, Mbaka said during the first physical service of his church after about five months of closure due to lockdown occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic that the country goes ‘gaga’ anytime he declares prophecies.
He said: “Like you know, whenever we declare a prophecy here, the whole country goes gaga and they begin to plan evil. But woe betides whoever that should allow himself to be used to try any attack on me or this ministry.
“You may not like me; I may not be among those you consider as good people, but I know that God is using me to save people and minister succour to mankind.”
Family background and journey to priesthood
Fr. Mbaka is the only son of late Chief Humphrey and Felicia Mbaka. He hails from Amata Ituku in Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State. Humphrey Mbaka’s family stood out for their special talent in palm wine tapping in the community. Ejike as a child helped his father in his palm wine business.
He was also close to his mother as he always helped out in domestic chores.
Despite the demand of domestic activities, the young Mbaka also devoted time to Block Rosary.
He stood out as one of the leaders of the group at St. Anthony’s Parish, Ituku where he led the prayer team.
His father, who was a traditional religion worshipper, seemed to have tolerated his tilt to Christianity until he declared his intention to enter priesthood. This was met with stiff resistance by his late father who allegedly made life a living hell for the intending priest.
Mbaka attended St. Vincent’s Secondary School, Agbogugu in Awgu L.G.A of Enugu State, from where he proceeded to the Seat of Wisdom Seminary, Owerri, Imo State and St Joseph’s Seminary Ikot Ekpene in Akwa Ibom State, for his training as a priest. He was ordained a priest on July 29, 1995 and was subsequently posted to Holy Ghost Cathedral, headquarters of Catholic Church in Enugu Diocese as the Assistant Diocesan Administrator.
He later ventured out on evangelical missions to Capuchin; a religious order of Franciscan friars within the Catholic Church, and Government Technical College (GTC), Enugu, where he founded the Word Prayer Centre of the Eucharistic Jesus which later metamorphosed to the Adoration Ministry, Enugu Nigeria (AMEN).
It was gathered that those early years of priesthood were unbearable for Mbaka as he would hold Mass at the GTC and shortly after the service; the church leadership would come and retrieve the offering.
He was not allowed access to the offering; neither was he given accommodation.
At some point, he lived with a couple in their one-room apartment in the GRA; and most times slept in the car. It was from there that some members who saw the efficacy of his prayers rented a place for him before they eventually commenced putting up structures for the Christ the King’s Parish (CKP), which hosted the adoration ground at the GRA.
Huge crowds troop to the adoration ground every Friday from all parts of the country in search of spiritual encounter. The atmosphere is usually charged and electrifying such that one gets the exact buzz that goes with the Pentecostal fellowships.
According to one of the choristers in the ministry, Oluchi Okolo, the singers usually have their works cut out for them as they are expected to sing and keep everyone “in the realm of the spirit” until the man of God arrives. She said once the man of God is sighted, the atmosphere becomes more intense and shouts of “Daddy”, “Oga Ndi Oga”, “Nwa Ikuku”, “ Onyeisi Okanga”, “Oga Emma”, and so many other appendages with which Mbaka is known rend the air. She described the feeling as blissful.
The all-night service proper at the Adoration Ground can best be described as Pentecostal-Catholicism. Without being told, a first time visitor will think he was in a Pentecostal gathering until it was time for the Holy Communion and the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
Describing worship at the Adoration Ground, an observer wrote: ‘Worship here combines preaching, ecstatic Eucharistic adoration, two Masses, anointing and dance in a way that is hard to imagine for anyone who has not seen it before. Mbaka is a celebrity and a force in the entire South East region, supported by many followers and clergy.’
However, in 2016, Mbaka was transferred from the CKP where he had presided for 20 years to Our Lady’s Catholic Church, Emene; a small parish in an obscure part of Enugu as an assistant priest.
His exit from CKP on January 31, 2016 was a highly emotional exercise as he was escorted by thousands of Catholic faithful in Enugu to his new parish.
Several lorries, buses and cars all lined the street in what could be dubbed a triumphal exit that halted economic and other activities for over four hours along major streets where the long convoy passed.
Addressing the crowd before the movement, Mbaka had expressed reservations over the transfer, which he said was calculated to make him suffer by certain leaders of the church.
He said: “I know we are going to suffer within now and few months to come. I am going to suffer and suffer; I know that.
“I’m going to suffer because I have no place to put my head. I am going to suffer because I have no place to keep the Adoration Ministry’s assets. I know I’m going to suffer.
“Fortunately, it is going to happen in the month of lent. So, I am going to use my exit here as a Lenten observance but Jesus said it all in John 16:20 to his apostles that you will be sorrowful and the world will be rejoicing but very soon I will turn your sorrow to joy.
“The quantum of the assets of the Adoration Ministry is the only thing I am bothered about for now. Where am I going to keep them? I am going to stay in one small room that has only one small bed, one small table, little toilet and bathroom.
“So, where am I going to keep all the Adoration assets? My clothing and books I can keep in the car or somebody’s house but where will I keep these assets that I have given to the Catholic Church of Enugu? But I say may God take the glory and whoever that has offended me, I have forgiven.
“I won’t fight anybody or even dream of battling anybody. If anybody allows the devil to use him, the same that advised you to make a mistake will laugh at you when you cry over the error. The baby is born, there is no going back.
“We are moving out. We have been doing it and we will do it again.”
Actually, many had thought that heavens would fall over the transfer. The manner the whole thing died down attracted the envy of former Vice President of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Bishop John Praise Daniel who extolled the legendary discipline in the orthodox Catholic Church.
“I know if it were in a Pentecostal church, a church would have started the following day. A man with over 30, 000 worshippers still agreed to leave everything to one small church. It’s discipline,” he had remarked.