BY ’TUNDE THOMAS
For allegedly using them to fake healing miracles for a fee and not paying, some young men have declared a manhunt for the General Overseer of New Creatures in Christ Mission Pastor Johnson Iteanuoluwa.
They are not only demanding for payments for the jobs done, they have reported the pastor to the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN to sanction the priest. About a fortnight ago, Saturday Sun’s reporter ran into two young men at Mowo bus stop in Igbogbo – Bayeku Local Council Development Area of Ikorodu, Lagos State, where they had gone in search of the pastor.
The weather was cloudy, and it soon started raining. Everybody including commuters who were waiting at the bus-stop ran for cover in different directions.
It was while waiting for the rain to subside that the reporter heard a conversation going between the two young men who obviously were angry and bitter with somebody. Trying to play the role of a pacifist, the reporter moved closer to the two men, urging them to take it easy.
But while still trying to calm them down, one of the young men burst out “If this pastor doesn’t show up here again today, I will rain curses upon him.”
At this juncture, our reporter took the bold step to ask what was amiss between them and the pastor whom they accused of giving them appointment for more than five times and failing to show up each time. Initially, they were hesitant to talk, then the one that looked older told the other man that it is better they narrate their story since it appeared that they have been conned by a man who called himself Minister of God.
Then the older of the duo who introduced himself as Femi said: “Oga, we don’t know what brought you here at this hour but it appeared God has destined our path to cross so that the whole world will know what happened to us. We are even happy when you introduced yourself as a pressman.
Continuing, Femi said: “This is the fifth time we will be coming here. A pastor brought us here for a crusade which took place on the open field of the primary school where we are taking shelter here now. It was around Easter time and Pastor Johnson promised me the sum of N20,000 at the end of the crusade.
“He told me that during the special prayer session that some people will bring me close to the altar, and that in the midst of the prayer that I will start mumbling words as if I am hearing people for the first time.
“I did exactly as he directed me as I cooperated with those people that he asked to take me closer to the altar. He also told me that I should tell the congregation that those people are my relations.”
Asked what eventually happened on the day of the crusade, Femi said: “I cooperated and did exactly what he asked me to do. There was even a rehearsal a day before in one of the houses of one of those closer to the pastor at a place called Elesin, very close to Mowo.”
Femi who claimed to be 32 years old however told Saturday Sun that to his dismay, neither he nor four other people that gave different fake testimonies that they received healing during the crusade were given a dime.
“Since March, it has been one story or the other. At a time, the pastor told me that he couldn’t fulfill his promise because the return (money) he got at the crusade was below his expectations. However, I didn’t believe him. There were so many people at the crusade, and you can imagine the shame I felt inside myself when I have to tell the crowd that I was born deaf and dumb from my birth.”, he stated.
While lamenting that he had a feeling that he and the others had been used and dumped, Femi said: “I’ve learnt a bitter lesson. I have a feeling that we have been used and dumped because the pastor’s line hardly goes. At times, he used different numbers to call us that we should come and meet him at Mowo, venue of the crusade, but he has not turned up for once. As for this other man, you are seeing with me here, I don’t know him before, I only saw him at the crusade when he gave testimony that he had been healed of lunacy of 10 years.”
Urging Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, to take steps to rid the association of bad eggs like Pastor Johnson,” Femi said “These are the kind of people giving bad name to Christianity. CAN should impose sanctions on them. I went in company of this man to CAN’s office in Surulere to meet with one Baba Atilade whom we were told is the leader of the Christian body but we were told he had travelled.”
Taken up on why he agreed to Pastor Johnson’s plan, Femi said: “It was temptation. I don’t have a job. A friend suggested the idea to me, and I thought that since it wasn’t robbery that I could do it to get some money. The person who directed me to the pastor, I met him at a cafeteria when I went to greet my brother who is living at Ladegbuwa Estate, close to Elesin.
“Actually, the person told me that I should go to the venue of the crusade adding that the organisers were looking for those that will work for them during the crusade.”
Femi who appeared sober told Saturday Sun that he has an Ordinary National Diploma Certificate in Business Administration, and that he is still looking for a job.
Taking over from where Femi stopped, Lukman who said he came all the way from Ijora-Oloye in Apapa area of Lagos to look for the pastor said he initially wanted to back out of the plot when he was told what was expected of him on the podium when he and three men purporting to be his family members came out.
According to him, the idea of claiming to be a lunatic was repulsive to him but he had to agree because he needed the N20,000 promised him badly.
Narrating his story, he said “I met an elderly man at my brother’s place at Ketu, this man who knew I was looking for a job said I should come to Mowo, that a church conducting a 7 days crusade was looking for workers.
“The man who asked me to go said that when I get to the crusade venue that I should ask for Pastor Johnson or Baba Jebidan (the pastor’s alias).”
Continuing, he said: “I don’t want to talk too much. I need my money. Even my brother and some relations have gone to a place in Alapere where the pastor claimed his church is located. He was disowned there, they just told them that there is an inter-denominational fellowship that used to hold there once in a month on an open field, but nobody knew him or could recollect somebody called Pastor Johnson.”
While asking God to intervene in his case, Lukman said: “I have wasted a lot of money coming to Mowo looking for the pastor who obviously has absconded, I want God to expose him. There is nothing I can do. I fell into the hands of 419 people and I’ve learnt my lesson. If I’m gainfully employed, I would not have been a victim of this devilish pastor.”
The two victims, Femi and Lukman, aged 32 and 25 respectively want Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, to help them get justice.
“We will like CAN to track down this pastor. His name is Pastor Johnson Iteanuoluwa, and his ministry, he called it New Creatures in Christ Mission,” they said.
When Saturday Sun took up the issue with the Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, South-West, Archbishop Magnus Atilade, he said the Christian body is worried that CAN’s name is being dragged in the mud by some unscrupulous elements parading themselves as pastors.
“The fellow who treated these two young men this way is not obviously a pastor. He is an agent of the devil. He is a fake. He is a criminal who should be made to face the music if caught,” Atilade declared.
While saying he couldn’t recollect the two victims visiting his office, the cleric said:
“There is no official record here with us indicating that the two young men came to my office. That not withstanding, it is very sad and painful the way they were treated. This so-called pastor will end up in hell. These two young men should come back and provide us information needed to nail this man. Even if they don’t want their identities to be known, we will protect their identities,” he promised.
Investigations by Saturday Sun in Mowo revealed that several religious organizations including churches and mosques organize programmes at Mowo School’s open field.
A resident, Alhaji Fatai Babajide, said “It is true that different activities including church programmes used to take place on that field but how do we know genuine men of God from fake ones. I have seen those two men and some other ones coming here to ask about Pastor Johnson and his church, but nobody knows how to trace him.
When Saturday Sun put a call across to Pastor Johnson, the line went through and he claimed to be holding a crusade in Akure in Ondo State promising to reply to the allegations by the two young men against him. Subsequent efforts to reach him have failed as he has switched off his GSM phone line.
Do you believe in miracles?… Nigerians react
Wale Ogunade, Lawyer
There are genuine and fake miracles. But miracle is real. Individual can experience divine miracles like surviving in an auto crash or plane crash where many people died.
But Nigerians should beware of fake miracles. Fake miracles are organized by some clerics to attract crowd to their crusades.
Some will claim to be cripples, deaf and dumb, and you see them suddenly jump out of wheel chair claiming that they have experienced divine miracle, but most of these are lies, Nigerians should beware.
Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, should do more in the area of public enlightenment to alert Nigerians about these merchants of fake miracles.
Even some members of CAN are involved, because where you have mushroom churches and owners claiming to be CAN members hiding under CAN and PFN umbrella to perpetrate evils, it is only God that can expose these mischievous elements claiming to be purveyors of Christ’s gospel.
Chima Emenuga, Cleric
Miracles are real. They have foundation in the Bible. Our Lord Jesus Christ when he was alive performed a lot of miracles.
But unfortunately today all manner of characters claiming to be men of God are claiming to be miracle performers.
Most of these people are fakes, They are not genuine servants of Christ. Jesus Christ has also warned us that in the last days, many fake prophets will emerge claiming to be sent by God and performing miracles that are doctored. Nigerians should be vigilant so as not to be exploited by fakes.
Richard Akinnola, Activist
Miracles are real, like during the times of Moses in the Bible, there were fake miracles and real ones.
What Nigerians should try to have is discerning spirit so that they won’t fall into the hands of fake prophets.
Dipo Olawale, Businessman
I found it difficult to believe that we still have what is known as miracles in our world of today. Miracles has been bastardised. All manner of prophets have emerged claiming to be capable of performing signs and wonders, but how many of these miracles are divinely inspired?
Tunji Adesunkanmi, Lawyer/Labour Leader
Miracle? Well, I have my doubts as to whether all those purporting to be miracles are genuine miracles indeed.
Nigerians should be vigilant and strive to have discerning spirits.
Ejike Ikonte, Businessman
Miracles is real. I believe in miracles. But the Bible has warned us that we should beware of the events of last days, that in the last days, that strange things will be happening, and that is why we are having fake miracles all over the place.
It is annoying that fake prophets are now all over the place claiming to be performing miracles. They are duping innocent Nigerians, CAN should do something about it.
Bolanle Gbonigi, Cleric
People who said they don’t believe in miracles are being deceived by satan.
Miracles take place every second in a man’s life. Our lives are full of miracles.
It is true that in some cases miracles has been misused or some men of God had deceived people that they are performing miracles which are not real. These are cursed prophets – God still perform miracles through genuine men of God but Nigerians have be careful of evil men pretending to be ministers of God.