Worshippers at the Ereko circuit, Diocese of Lagos, Methodist Church of Nigeria, are protesting against the reinstatement of one of their priests, Rev Abayomi Okesanya who was sent on suspension for alleged adultery. They have vowed to resist the return of the clergy to their midst.
His sin: His wife, Yemisi Okesanya accused him of impregnating another woman. Some members of the congregation, who spoke with Saturday Sun, claimed that they were shocked by his sudden return even when he is living with another woman apart from his legally married wife.
The church, which is located at No 18 Ereko Street, Idumota, Lagos, has Rev Moses Adebayo Siyanbola as the presbyter and minister in-charge of the circuit.
Aggrieved and determined to draw the attention of the church to what they described as an attempt by some leaders of the church to disregard biblical and age-long doctrine, members of the church told Saturday Sun that the cause of the problem can be traced to the couple’s childless state.
According to a woman leader in the church:
“He has been married for years and unfortunately, no child came out of it. Unknown to his wife, Rev Okesanya, with the aid of his family, made another arrangement and kept a mistress aside who started breeding kids for him. When the wife finally realised what had happened, it caused much crisis at home and eventually her exit in 2008. This very man had two kids abroad before he got married. Assuming it was a child that is his problem, he already had two. You can imagine what ordinary members of the church who do not have kids will do if they find themselves in a childless situation. Most of us still believe in Methodist church, but if this is allowed to continue, they will lose so many members and I will be one of them.”
Another member and a priest in the church said
“It is wrong and bad for the image of the church. A lot of Christians live by what they see or observe. You cannot tell people to go home and resolve their problems. They will surely make reference to this case. I do not know why he was allowed to return to the church as a priest. It is wrong and totally against the church doctrine. If he had repented, it is a different thing all together”
Deacon Bode wondered why the church leadership will choose to shield Okusanya.
“I am not judging him but the Bible says we should repent from our wicked way and stay away from such act. There is no need to talk about investigation because the message is clear. He is living with an illegitimate wife who had given birth to four kids for him. Why should they allow him to mount the pulpit again? No one will talk about it if he was just a member of the church. I guess there are so many men into this these days but they do not ridicule the word of God by throwing it at the face of the church. What I fail to understand is why the presbyter could be shielding him.”
When Saturday Sun contacted Rev Okesanya on phone, he expressed appreciation for the effort to get his own side of the story. According to him, it is a mere rumour and should not be taken seriously. Further attempt to get a follow-up response was rebuffed as Rev Okesanya switched off his phones.
Also, when his estranged wife was contacted, she said:
“I am a Christian and I have decided to forgive him and move on with my life. The truth is that if I decide to take it personal and habour hate against him, I will also live a depressed life.The past prelate called me when the matter came up. The archbishop also called and was investigating the matter. They have been investigating the matter but God knows that I have forgiven him and even if he decides to repent, I am not willing to give it another try. I was also told that he is threatening to apply for divorce. If he does that, I will be very free at last. All I have to tell people, especially women, is that they should investigate properly before they jump into any marriage even if it is a pastor. Be wise, I have learnt my lessons”,
When Saturday Sun visited Methodist Church Nigeria headquarters at Wesley House, Marina, Lagos, the new prelate, Dr Samuel Emeka Kanu Uche said that the church got complaints from members of the church and has ordered a thorough investigation.
“Methodist church abhors, condemns and rejects any act of adultery or polygamy in the church. It is against our doctrines and we will not allow such to thrive in the church of God.The current leadership did not receive official complaint on this matter but because of the sensitivity of the matter, the church during its recent conference, raised the matter and ordered that there should be a thorough investigation. It is a sensitive case and the committee had been given till November to submit its report. If found to be true, Rev Okesanya will be made to face the disciplinary committee. The church would not want any matter that will discourage its members from living a life worthy to make heaven.”
On why Okesanya was still allowed to preach in church, Opoko said:
“As I told you earlier, there was no written report from anywhere. It was just a rumour and verbal accusation by members of the church. Until the committee comes back with its report, Rev Okesanya remains absolved of all allegations. Nobody has any right to suspend a priest based on a verbal allegation.”