Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday, cautioned Nigerians against the abuse of social media.
He specifically warned against using social media platforms to promote religious disinformation, which he said could easily lead to a breakdown of law and order.
Osinbajo, who stated this in Abuja during an inter-faith tolerance dialogue organised by the United Arab Emirates, explained that he did not subscribe to regulation of the social media by the government.
Osinbajo said, “As religious leaders and media personalities, also as people of faith in general, we share a common calling to apprehend the truth. We absolutely need to be careful in our use of social media and if we do not want to promote the kind of conflict that can go completely out of hand, we must be sure that we are policing and regulating ourselves, especially, with social media.
“I don’t think that government regulation is necessarily the way to go, but I believe that we as persons of faith and we, as leaders, and those of us who use the social media actively owe a responsibility to our society and to everyone else, to ensure that we don’t allow it to become an instrument of conflict and instrument of war.”
The UAE Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Fahad Al Taffaq, described his country as the global capital of tolerance, noting that the government had declared 2019 as the year of tolerance.
He said Nigerian churches were also springing up in his country, adding that the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly opened a branch in Dubai in 2017.
Nigerian-owned Church Probed by the UK Gov
The United Kingdom Government, through the Charity Commission, has opened an inquiry into the activities of Nigerian-owned church, SPAC Nation, various online media platforms have reported.
According to reports, the church is run by 39-year-old Pastor Tobi Adegboyega, a Nigerian who took up residency in Britain in 2005.
According to the Evening Standard, Adegboyega once shared a room with his cousin, Star Wars actor John Boyega, after moving to London from Nigeria; adding that the pastor “works with young people who have been involved with gangs and street crime.”
The church is being investigated over allegations that pastors were pressuring young people in the congregation to sell their own blood to raise funds, Mail on Sunday has reported.
“The Charity Commission said it has opened an inquiry into SPAC Nation to probe financial and safeguarding concerns after claims emerged that pastors had encouraged worshippers to take out loans in order to pay for the church’s lavish spending,” the medium claimed.
The commission described SPAC Nation as “a charity set up to ‘advance Christianity,’ noting that it works “particularly with young people.”
It has, meanwhile, ordered the church to deposit all its money in the bank while the investigation lasts.
While the Scotland Yard is said to be reviewing the complaints against the SPAC Nation, Labour MP Steve Reed, who is also the Shadow Children’s Minister, told the Mail On Sunday that the allegations he had received about SPAC Nation were “truly disturbing.”
SPAC Nation has since denied all wrongdoing, Huffington Post said.
Trouble allegedly started after the Huffington Post alleged in a report that some members of SPAC Nation had been taking teenagers to donate blood for medical trials in a practice known as “bleeding for seed.”
The Mail On Sunday had alleged that parishioners were encouraged to raise £100,000 a week; while HuffPost UK alleged that young church members claimed that some members go to donate blood and are paid up to £100 by medical trial companies.
“This money is then handed by the young people over to the church’s pastors,” HuffPost UK said.
The reports further alleged that while members were told to raise “the seed” through whatever means — including if they had to “beg, borrow or steal,” pastors in the church cruise around town in £150,000 Rolls-Royces and a Lamborghini with personalised number plates such as ‘Pastor R.R’ on a Rolls Royce allegedly owned by a pastor.
In a series of links on the SPAC Nation’s website, various media reports had earlier focused on the activities of the church and its lead pastor, Adegboyega.
The BBC in a February 1, 2018 report had described SPAC Nation as “The church where drugs and knives are left at the altar;” while The Sunday Times of August 11, 2018 sees it as a church that uses “‘Demonic’ drill rap used to spread the gospel.”
Four Enugu Pastors jailed for Conspiracy, Forgery
Four pastors in Enugu state have been convicted for forgery and conspiracy by the Chief Magistrate of the states magistrates’ court, J. O. Umezulike.
The convicted pastors include the General Overseer, Christian Charismatic Movement, Dr Sabinus Onuigbo, for forgery and conspiracy.
While delivering judgment on Wednesday in a suit with no CME/56C/2017, the chief magistrate sentenced Onuigbo to seven years imprisonment without an option of fine, while his conspirators – Pastors Tony Chukwu, Chukwuma Victor and Nick Nwoye – were handed three years jail term each with an option of N20,000 fine.
Enugu State Police Command had arraigned the convicts: Onuigbo, Ojukwu, Victor, Nwoye and one Tony Ike before the magistrates’ court in 2017 for alleged forgery and conspiracy.
Angered by the development, one Mr Innocent Ngwu reported the case to the police. After investigation, the convicts were charged.
Delivering the judgment on Wednesday, the court held that the prosecution proved its case against the four pastors beyond a reasonable doubt. He, however, acquitted Ike.
The judgment read in part, “The sole issue for determination was the forgery of Rev. Sunny Ndolo’s signature. The defence did not debunk or contradict it all through with their defence. As Lord Denning would say, ‘you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand.’ The prosecution proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Magistrate Onuzulike held that the defence resorted to underhand tactics to undermine the judgment of the court, The Chief Magistrate said, “As the proceeding was ongoing, there was intermittent interference. But facts before the court found four of the accused guilty while the fifth accused was not a party to the allegations.
“Nevertheless I convict the 1st – 4th accused persons for the offence of forgery and conspiracy as in SS. 495(a); 443(1); 449 and 453 of CC Laws of Enugu state 2004 and sentence 1st accused to seven years in prison; 2nd to 4th also accused to three years in jail or option of fine of N20,000 each excluding the 1st defendant.
“The 5th defendant is not a party per se in the entire transaction. He is an innocent passerby. In accordance with S.386 of ACJL he is discharged and acquitted.”
The World Mourns as Bonnke Dies at 79
The wife of a German television evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke, Annie, in a statement on Saturday announced the passing of her husband at age 79.
“It is with sorrow that the Bonnke family would like to announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, and grandfather, Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke. He passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family, on December 7, 2019,” it stated.
Bonnke was born on April 19, 1940, and was known for his gospel missions throughout Africa since 1967.
He was credited with the conversion of over 75 million people.
Mourning the passage of the German televangelist, the Christian Association of Nigeria described his death as a colossal loss to the body of Christ all over the world.
The CAN President, Rev Samson Ayokunle, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Communications, Pastor Bayo Oladeji, described Bonnke as “one of the greatest generals of the gospel of eternal salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ on earth.”
He noted, “CAN and the entire Christian communities in Nigeria join the rest of Christians all over the world to mourn this fiery preacher and teacher of the Gospel and mentor to several evangelical leaders all around the world today.”
“Reinhard Bonnke has reached Africa and countries of the world through his ministry called Christ For All Nations preaching the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ through which millions of souls were saved into the Kingdom of God or received their healings,” the CAN president added.
The statement further maintained that the body of Christ had lost one of its greatest assets.
It prayed to God to comfort his widow, Anne.
Also, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria has expressed sadness over Bonnke’s death, saying millions of Nigerians would miss him.
PFN National President, Rev Felix Omobude, in a statement, commiserated with his family and all members of Christ for All Nations.
He said, “Even though it is a transition to glory, as humans, we are sad to see the departure of a man who made such a tremendous impact in Nigeria through his evangelical work spanning over five decades.
“Bonnke truly impacted his generation and the Church in Nigeria will always be grateful to him for the work God used him to do in our country.”
In recognition of his extensive evangelical work in Nigeria, the PFN recalled that it presented Bonnke a lifetime achievement award during his last crusade in the country in 2017.
Also, President Muhammadu Buhari has mourned the death of the renowned evangelist. He described the evangelist as “a great loss to Nigeria, Africa and the entire world.”
The Presidency said Buhari joined Christendom in recalling the good deeds of Bonnke, particularly his numerous crusades in Nigeria, Africa and the whole world to spread the message of Jesus Christ.
A statement released by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, read in part, “The President condoles with the government and people of Germany, family and friends of the great preacher and teacher of the Bible, and all his co-labourers in the vineyard, praying that the good Lord will comfort all those that mourn him.
“President Buhari affirms that Bonnke’s crusades in Nigeria, across Africa and the globe strongly accentuated the message of Jesus Christ, and his vision and zeal for the salvation of souls helped the world in understanding the power of love and kindness as a universal language.
“The President prays that the Almighty God will accept the soul of the departed preacher, believing that his legendary contributions to the body of Christ in teaching and writing will always be remembered by posterity.”
I’ve no desire to fill Bonnke’s shoes – Kolenda
Meanwhile, Daniel Kolenda, the successor to Bonnke, has said he does not desire to fill the late evangelist’s shoes.
Kolenda, who is the President/CEO of CFaN, said he desired to fill the shoes God ordained for him.
But his successor, Kolenda, said he did not desire to fill the CFaN founder’s shoes, saying, “I had no desire to fill Reinhard Bonnke’s shoes. I always have the desire to fill the shoes God has assigned to me.
“In those shoes, there is grace, there is anointing, and I can say by the grace of God, we have seen an increase since Reinhard Bonnke handed over the ministry to me. There has been an increase because nothing diminishes in God.”
Kolenda stated this on Friday at the ongoing crusade in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State. CFaN organised the crusade in conjunction with various Christian bodies, including the Christian Association of Nigeria
Two Pastors: Two Videos, Same Woman and Same Miracle!
Social media has been proven to be the fountain of revelations. Recently a woman seen in two different videos experiencing the same miracle from two different pastors in each video.
The founder of Mountain of Liberation And Miracle Ministry, aka Liberation City, Dr. Chris Okafor, has come under fire on social media after a video clip showing him performing what appeared like a miracle created a controversy.
The video, posted by Instagram user, nvoguhair, started with a woman saying she needed healing for her stunted right arm.
Okafor told the congregation that the woman saw three people, who pushed her in a dream and when she woke up, she developed the problem.
He asked that the camera focused on the arm, adding that the woman had been told there was no bone in her arm.
“If witches can do this, my God can do better than witches,” he added.
The woman shed tears of pain from the injury, while Okafor said he was retrieving the bones from “the household of witches.”
“Give me the bone; give me her bones,” he said and made some signs while making a gesture for the hand to return to normal.
As the woman stretched her shrunk hand, the congregation went into jubilation with songs of worship.
However, the same woman was shown in another video clip claiming she had the same problem as another unidentified pastor prayed for her in public.
In the second video, the pastor laid hand on the woman and prayed for her while a crowd supported the prayers with heavy music playing in the background.
As the music turned acrobatic and the prayer intensified, the woman stretched her shrunk hand. Everyone was in awe of the miracle.
The videos went viral on Thursday and attracted various reactions from many Nigerians.
Some people said the woman had a peculiar “gift” and she was only making money from it.
Popular comedian, Brodashaggi, said the woman was enjoying church contracts.
A man who claimed to be Okafor’s publicist and identified himself as Sunday Adeyemi asked that the report be dropped, a request our correspondent declined.
He said the woman at the center of the drama would be in the church on Sunday and invited our correspondent, refusing to respond to the allegation.
Later, Adeyemi asked that our correspondent write an official letter to the church for its reaction to the video.
However, an official who did not want to be quoted confirmed that it was the same woman in the two videos.
“The woman was in our church really. But you know in this issue of deliverance, some people could be delivered here and then go back to where they stayed before and the attack would return. That was what happened to the woman,” he said.
He noted that the woman had been “completely delivered” after Okafor prayed for her and she would be in the church on Sunday.
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