CHERUBIM AND SERAPHIM
But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. 3 In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed. — 2 Peter 2: 1 – 3 (New Living Translation)
It is unclear why the gatekeepers at ‘national headquarters’ of the Eternal Sacred Order of Cherubim and Seraphim on Pearse Street, Yaba, Lagos, are so unwelcoming when we arrive in the morning of the second day after the famous Valentine’s Day, but one of them parks us grudgingly, anyway. Madu Chiboka, the prophet we had been conversing with, tells us on the phone that a “senior prophet” would attend to us in a matter of minutes. The wait for him inside the church gifts me a few minutes to run my eyes through the auditorium.
It is not the biggest church you’ll ever see. But I count deep brown pews studiously arranged in 13 rows and four columns, meaning, technically, that the ground floor can sit at least 312 congregants per time if six occupy a pew. There are three more pews at the rear but they are not arranged to fit into the rows; my hunch is that they’re reserved for in-service protocol officials.
Over the upper corridor overlooking the main auditorium are women singing songs of praises and muttering some unintelligible prayers. It’s hard to say how many congregants the corridor can take, partly because I see no chair but also because a smoky scent emanating from that region fills the air with a whiff of unpleasantness and blurriness. My eyes race back to the ground floor, where I notice the support of 12 butter-coloured pillars over two rows of six each. Further ahead, towards the pulpit, two crystal chandeliers carry the rest of the auditorium’s aesthetic value.
Senior Prophet emerges from nowhere in particular and apologises profusely for keeping us waiting. He had attended a vigil the previous night and needed a few hours of rest in the morning. Attention immediately returns to ‘work’. I am gay. And I need help!
‘SIT DOWN; I WANT TO GIVE YOU YOUR REVELATIONS’
“What exactly do you want me to request from God?” Senior prophet tells us once we accept his apology. We tell him our mission and he asks us to kneel for prayers. He prays for 2 minutes 50 seconds during which he stamps his staff on the ground a total of five times — three times in quick succession, and solitarily twice. Then he sprinkles an unknown liquid substance on us.
“My brethren, God be with you,” he announces when the prayer ends. “Sit down. I want to give you your revelations.”
FAKE PROPHECY 1: ‘YOU ARE NOT MOVING FORWARD’
For 5 minutes and 2 seconds, Senior Prophet tells my colleague how he has turned away from God, paving the way for “witches and wizards, principalities and powers” to “grab him quick”; how he “backed God”; how he “left God and followed the world”. As I know nothing about my colleague’s personal life, I pay little attention to the conversation.
Soon, it is my turn.
“My dear son,” he says, facing me. “Look [at] what you’re doing.”
He makes the motion of someone who takes a few steps forwards and several more backwards.
“You are not moving forward,” he tells me. “Instead, you are marking time. Even if you’re given N1 million, you’ll squander it.”
FAKE PROPHECY 2: ‘YOU BREAK UP, THEN RETURN TO YOUR EXES’
According to Senior Prophet, my problems are self-induced. He says there are “forces” that I myself have willfully invited into my life.
“It’s like seeing ants on a tree… you saw the ants, quite alright, and you went to rest your hands on the tree, and you went further to start shaking the trees,” he tells me so confidently.
“You thought you were enjoying; now the ants are biting you. Thank God you have not yet entered into your afternoon (figurative for middle-age) — you are still within your morning (figurative for youth) — and you’re about to enter your afternoon, otherwise the ants would have bitten you beyond recognition.”
Senior Prophet explains that these forces want to use me to shame my family.
“For example, this girl will come, slight quarrel, you leave her. You date another one and leave her. But when the first comes back, you go to her, returning to your vomit,” he says. “It’s a force that was cast to disgrace your family, and you’re allowing it. You say it’s ‘guy’ (slang for youthful exuberance); it’s not guy; you’re deteriorating yourself.”
This prophecy is wrong on several fronts. I do not have an active dating life in recent memory. In the last six years, I have only had one-and-a-half relationships — with people I have completely lost touch with, meaning the chance of getting back was never on the cards. And in the preceding years, there was no ex I ever got back with! The prophecy in particular was a pure invention.
FAKE PROPHECY 3: ‘YOU ARE BEING MOCKED’
“I pray…I’m praying for you…that God should give you a long life to clock 60 or else… may your family not cry,” he continues in what is a well-worn strategy of terrifying people with the prospect of death in exchange for power and control over their emotions and, consequently, decisions.
“As you are doing all these, they are mocking you behind; I must tell you before God and man. I must tell you the truth; you’re being mocked. May God make you live till 60 — because where you ought to be, my dear son, you’re not there. See, you are far away, very far away!”
Senior Prophet then delivers the most important update of the day: “You need to be worked for.”
“Worked for?” I ask, feigning ignorance and surprise.
“Yes, spiritual work,” he replies. “You really need spiritual work. We need to cast out these spirits. When they get out of you, some blessings will come to you — because part of your destiny is to help people.”
He tells me the “resources” I currently have are “droppings from a drum”. “You have not peeped inside the drum to see that there’s so much more,” he continues. “You’re allowing useless people to mess you up; it’s not fair.”
FAKE PROPHECY 4: ‘SEX IN YOUR DREAMS’
Senior Prophet then acts like he is rendering me an undeserved favour, saying: “In fact, people like you, I don’t like treating your cases. I prefer to abandon you and let you come back when you’ve completely fallen inside the pit. When you come back, I’ll then ask you, ‘you don finish?’”
He continues: “I have a boy like that. All the things I told him, I thank God the mother was aware when I used to advise him. I told the mother and brother that we needed to work for him spiritually. He is late now. He was buried in January, just last month.
“He became a loss to his family. But all those girls have gone with other men. The cigar, drugs, bottles of beer are all here; he did not take any away with him. All along, these things were damaging his liver but he didn’t know.”
By his explanation, the boy’s case is a reminder of the fate that awaits me if I do not undergo this “spiritual work”.
“How you’re currently behaving is just how he was,” he says. “You are headed for destruction; you won’t end up well. At times, even, you have sex with women in your dreams; you are destroying yourself.”
Sex in my dreams? Another prophecy several miles wide of the mark.
FAKE PROPHECY 5: PRISON AROUND JUNE, JULY
Then he adds: “I’m seeing you in a circle… thank your stars; there is something that would have sent you to prison, but God has bailed you out. But be careful. Be careful for now, so that you don’t find yourself in prison around June, July.”
This prophecy was made in February. It is now October and at no time was there ever a prison scare this year. Not in June, not in July.
Senior Prophet explains that this spiritual work will take place in “a wilderness located after Okokomaiko. “It won’t be this week because we’re travelling; it will be the next.”
Senior Prophet rings Madu Chiboka, the church official who arranged the meeting in the first place, and informs him of my need for spiritual work. “We’ll take him to the wilderness on Tuesday [February 22] for his glory to return to him,” he announces to Madu, before facing me: “They said after finishing with you, we should baptise you.”
Madu himself repeats: “Tomorrow or next, we are travelling. [We’ll go to the wilderness] when we return on Tuesday; it will be a joint prayer. Other prophets and visioners will join you in the work.”
About me, he tells my colleague: “He has to do this if he wants to live long, otherwise he will have a short life. Tuesday, very early in the morning, you people [sic] will have to arrange transport for all of us to go.”
THE SUDDEN ABOUT-FACE
Senior Prophet accompanies us as we exit the church auditorium, leading us through the doorway and standing by as we approach our car, a Sports Utility Van (SUV). We notice how his eyes travel from the car to each of us and back to the car; there was something quite unnerving about it, and it doesn’t take so long before we find out.
Exactly seven minutes after our departure, while still on Ojuelegba Bridge on the famous Ikorodu Road, Madu’s call enters: he wants to know if we can turn back to the church so we can head for the wilderness straightaway.
“Are you leaving already?” Madu asks rhetorically. “What I’m suggesting is that, this kind of thing, we don’t need to delay it. As you have started it, you need to complete it. If you have not gone far, I want to talk to you; let us start it immediately.”
He hesitates for a while, seeing an immediate return to the church is impracticable, before adding: “Will you be chanced [sic] tomorrow, for us to go and start the second part?” Strange, given that both prophets had previously spoken of their unavailability for the next six days due to their trip out of town.
We do not head back, of course, but the conversation gives us an idea of what to expect when we finally go to this much-talked-about wilderness.
‘DELIVERANCE IS OUR BUSINESS’: DAY 2 AT CHERUBIM
Our return to the Cherubim and Seraphim headquarters would not happen until Wednesday April 20, two months and four days after the initial visit. This time, we are received by Prophet Madu himself. We arrive just before the 12 noon appointment, but it isn’t until a few minutes past 1pm that he joins us, apologising for his lateness and explaining that he “paid N1,500 to fly a bike” from Ikorodu to Pearse Street, Yaba. He asks us for some time to switch from his mufti to cassock, and returns in no time to fetch us. Unlike Dike, he doesn’t lead us to the church auditorium. Instead, it is to an adjoining building upstairs with a long, classroom-teacher-like table and several scattered chairs. He doesn’t waste time before getting into the day’s business.
“Let me put it in a way it will be easy [for you to understand],” he begins. “Here, we have different ministries. But, anything deliverance is ours. Not only me. I just said ‘let me see you today’, because we are so busy.”
Prophet Madu says we would have gone inside the church auditorium, but “delegates from all over the country” are attending a conference” — never mind that there are no more than four cars at their car park. As we would later discover, Prophet Madu was trying to corner us to himself, away from Senior Prophet Dike. Unbeknownst to Madu, we had spotted Dike at the auditorium. When the time comes for him to invite a colleague over, Madu shows up with an entirely new prophet, Prince Johnson, a dark middle-aged man with a fairly protruding stomach, with whom he speaks Igbo whenever they conferred.
“Here is the place where the founder of Redeemed [Christian Church of God] was ordained as a pastor,” Prophet Madu boasts. “Are you getting my point? So many churches began from here, such as Salvation Ministries in Port Harcourt (founded by Pastor David Ibiyeomie). We were all together; we were ordained the same day as pastors. He was in the deliverance team here before he left.”
Madu then tries to sell the C&S, as the church is known for short, as superior to others. “Here we don’t use red candle; we don’t use coloured candles; we don’t charge you for money. We don’t kill goat; we don’t ask for fowls,” he tells me. “All we are after is your deliverance. And whatever prayers we offer here, we don’t as much believe in what you tell us. We do the prayer, then the spirit will direct us to where the problem is.”
Soon, it is time for the spirit to reveal these problems. Prophets Madu and Johnson tell my accomplice to buy me a bottle of water, and ask me to remove my shoes and kneel down for prayers. “In our church, we don’t wear shoes,” Madu says. “We don’t try it; it’s an abomination.”
The two prophets get to work, intermittently pointing their staff at me as they shout “Father have mercy upon us…”
Few minutes into the prayers, Madu dips the tip of his staff into the now open bottle of water, now open, and brushes my forehead with it. The prayer continues until he rests his staff on my forehead. “God of restoration! God of restoration! God of restoration! God of Cherubim! God of Seraph! God of Cherubim! God of Seraph,” he prays. “Lord Jesus, descend into our midst this time.”
The round of prayers is brought to a close, and Madu leads us to the next, saying: “Let us pray for deliverance from the powers of darkness that chained him.. that chained his soul.” Both men intermittently dip their staff into the water.
‘YOU’RE IN CHAINS’ — FAKE PROPHECIES 6, 7, 8, 9
At the end of all prayers, Prophet Madu asks me to kneel upright and open my mouth. I down the water he pours in my mouth, and he repeats the process. He scoops some more with his bare hands and propels it into my face with unexpected force, accompanied by a ‘Jah!’ scream. I am caught unawares and almost thrown off balance. I feel a burning sensation in my eyes, too. Prophet Madu hands me what is left of the bottle of water and tells me sit down.
“This water,” he begins, “don’t share it with anybody.”
“In the morning before you bathe, sprinkle some of it into the bucket,” he continues. “In the night, it should be the last thing you take. No matter how, manage this water until Monday (from Wednesday). When you get here on Monday, you may buy packs of water that we will pray into. From now on, we want you to live only on consecrated water. People will see you and rejoice.”
Pastor Madu invites Prophet Johnson to relay his vision from the prayer to us.
“My brother, what is happening to you is not far from your family,” says Prophet Johnson as he takes over. “Family members!…I saw a man pointing at you. I also saw darkness.”
He announces that we will pray with candles for seven days, beginning from Monday, using Isaiah 47 and Isaiah 38. “Every day, after the prayers, you will bathe with consecrated water.”
Pastor Madu retakes the baton, announcing: “The battle has begun.
“Before God and man, when we were praying for you, I saw blood in the centre of your head, your own blood[fake prophecy 6]. Then I also saw a black ring, spiritual ring on you. That ring, it’s only prayer that can make that ring rust in your life. It is an agreement that you bowed to [fake prophecy 7].
“You’re chained. As we were praying for you, I saw that your two legs were chained [fake prophecy 8]. You have that ring, an occultic ring. It’s there to follow you to the grave. Why did you allow your own blood to be sprinkled on your forehead? That is the question the spirit is telling me to ask you. It is affecting your whole family.
“Money is not an issue for you, but before God and man, if you’re married it will affect your wife and children. If you’re not married, that’s the word. As you’re kneeling down here, they are chasing you [fake prophecy 9].”
FAKE PROPHECY 10, 11: YOU ARE A CULTIST
Pastor Madu says I am “into a cult” [fake prophecy 10] and we should thank God “I have not yet entered street [street lingo for running mad]”. “As you have entered this place and taken this water, you must not visit them again,” he says. “Before God and man, if you enter any, may God have mercy, I saw your hair turning to brown [like a mad man’s].”
The cult prophecy was definitely guess work. I’ve never been anywhere close to a cult group; I’ve never knowingly met just one cultist in person in my entire life. I’ve never been gregarious by nature, so associations do not generally interest me — not even media associations.
He continues: “As you’re leaving this place, a friend of yours is going to call you; between Thursday and Sunday, you will receive a call [fake prophecy 11]. Please, you must not answer. Whoever calls you, don’t tell them you’re no longer with them. But don’t answer.”
Another fake prophecy. Six months after, I am still awaiting that call!
Prophet Madu lists the items to be purchased ahead of Sunday, but Prophet Johnson interjects, motioning him over and muttering some imperceptible Igbo to him. After that brief consultation, Madu says he will tell me more later, because “we can’t tell you everything today”.
“As time goes on, we will know what to do,” he says, bringing down the curtain on the day’s events.
DAY 3 AT CHERUBIM: ‘DR. JESUS’, PEACE OIL, MICHAEL OIL, CANDLES, HE-SOAP
On Monday April 25, we return to the church with the intention to corner Prophet Dike and find out whatever happened to his ‘wilderness’ trip. But we land in the waiting hands of prophets Madu and Johnson, strategically positioned in front of the church. They immediately whisk us to the church gallery.
From nowhere, Madu produces a transparent bucket filled to the brim with water. In it, he dips a bunch of palm fronds and pours a liquid substance whose content I’m unable to ascertain from my view. But from the list of items I’d been given earlier, I assume it is ‘Peace Oil’. Then he pours some more from another small bottle; this, I believe, is ‘Michael Oil’.
Prophet Madu invites two boys to lay a dark brown wooden platform on the bare floor, its recent abandonment betrayed by the sheer mass of candle wax stuck to its surface. Madu asks me to kneel down on the platform, right at the centre, while a third prophet starts to light and affix new candles to the platform. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven candles in all. He positions three in front of me, two by my side, and two more behind me. A fourth official, a prophetess whom he describes as a “seer and visioner”, joins us. Then the prayers, preceded by the recitation of some Bible verses, begin.
“Let us ask for mercy and pardon…in any way he has erred against the spirit, in any way he or his family has erred against the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit by going against his creator, let God have mercy,” Prophet Madu prays. “If it is from the family, let God have mercy and send his light into this very prayer.”
The group prayer lasts for some five minutes, giving way to a cacophony of individual prayers. “Loosen him Oh Lord,” I hear Madam Visioner scream. “Dr. Jesus, Dr. Jesus, let this not be the end of his story.”
When all the prayers end, Prophet Madu pours some water from a bottle in his hands and swings it into my face, accompanied by the scream of ‘Jah’! He does it twice. Having experienced it four days earlier, it doesn’t catch me by surprise this time. He hands me some black soap, telling me what I have in my hands “is not child’s play — not one to toy with”. “We call it ‘he-soap,’” he says. “It’s in the scriptures.”
He tells me I am to spread it on a local sponge and bathe my body with it inside their bathroom.
”You will swing the sponge OVER your head — the first time in the name of God the Father, second time in the name of God the Son, third time in the name of God the Spirit,” he explains. After that, I am to dispose of the sponge in their waste bin. I rise immediately, assuming I am to head to the bathroom straightaway. But Prophet Madu stops me.
FAKE PROPHECY 12: ‘YOU MADE A PROMISE’
“Listen now,” he says, turning and facing my accomplice. “What is most important to him is the message — the spiritual message — that will be given to him. Listen now!”
The visioner goes first.
“Before God and man, “ she begins, “as you were climbing the staircase, I also saw you climbing the ladder.”
She continues: “You were already reaching the last [rung of the ladder]. Then somebody called you to turn back, and you did. Therefore, we must pray against any setback, any spiritual setback.
“Second thing is that you have to be very careful. There are eyes pursuing you [sic]; we call them monitoring spirits. As you stood there making a phone call, the eyes were looking at you.
“Thirdly, I don’t know how long you’ll be in Lagos for, these prayers ought to last three days.”
“Seven days!” Prophet Madu interrupts.
“The prayers will be done to nullify any entrapment, that evil spirit that is following you; it will go back to the sender. After that, you look for money to cook food and give to beggars,” she continues.
“At the end of the prayers we had for you, I saw three coconuts that you will use to wash your face. You’ll use water from one coconut to wash your face, and the second to roll your head and it will trickle down to your back, to wash your legs and your back. Anything like a setback will be over. Then the third, you will drink it and use it to wash your eyes. Anything they will give you in the spiritual realm will be quashed. I don’t know who you have promised and failed [fake prophecy 12]; that is where your setback is coming from.
“Before God and man, I saw where they were asking you to shave this your hair, you said no. I don’t know why. Do it and have peace of mind. Before God and man, that is all I saw.”
The visioner’s claims about eyes on me, descending a ladder and setbacks were mere conjectures, although difficult to prove. One that is clear to prove, though, is promising and failing someone. Far from the truth that I made any promise to someone, only to fail.
‘IF GOD LETS YOU SEE THE END OF THIS YEAR, YOU HAVE TO GIVE SOMETHING’
It’s Prophet Johnson’s turn. He hesitates for a few seconds, as though unsure what to say, which probably explains why he mixed up his verbs. “When we were praying for this my brother, God said we should pray against anything assassinated [sic], anything assassinate [sic],” he says.
“Are you listening?” Prophet Madu asks thrice in quick succession.
“Pray against it all the time,” Prophet Johnson continues. “I saw where they were monitoring you; there’s a gang. They are monitoring you; they are monitoring your movement. Pray that they don’t get you, that the Lord will protect you to see the end of this year. However, you have to make a vow. You have to tell God ‘if you protect me to see the end of this year, this is what I will do for you.’”
Of course, I nod in agreement.
FAKE PROPHECY 13: AN INVITATION TO HERBALISTS
Prophet Johnson tells me to pray against “any food poisoning”. He warns me of some friends who will soon invite me to come along to “some herbalist place”; he says I must not follow them. Four months after, I am still awaiting this herbalist-place-invite!
Prophet Johnson ends by assuring me that the powers of the people after my life are inferior to those in the building where I’m currently kneeling. He implores me to “put my mind” in the prayers. But there’s a caveat: “You have to put your hands in your pocket and do the people praying for you well [sic]”.
“By God’s grace, nothing is going to happen to you,” he says. “Here is for us to rescue you, change your condition. You understand?”
“When you were coming in,” he begins, “I saw a man standing by one side; he was watching you. He isn’t such an old man; he should be in his 50s. I saw him with something like glass, which shows they’re monitoring you.”
FAKE PROPHECY 14: IF YOU TRAVEL, AN ACCIDENT WILL HAPPEN
He takes a moment to explain why the prayers should last seven days, preceded by fasting, then returns to the prophecies.
“When we were offering the prayers, I saw a woman behind you; she is not happy with you. I don’t know whom you have offended — whether it’s a relative or a concubine. But you have offended somebody. The person is not happy with you. Let God take control.”
“You said it the last time that you were travelling somewhere. Take it seriously; you are not travelling this week. Finish these prayers first, so that nothing like accident will happen. God will continue to protect you.”
Another fake prophecy. Actually, I did not listen to Prophet Johnson. I did embark on that trip and returned to base without even a scratch on my car, much less an accident.
Then Madu takes over. Overall prophecy time!
FAKE PROPHECY 15: YOUR MOTHER IS NOT HAPPY WITH YOU
Unlike Prophet Johnson, Madu starts off his prophecies on sure footing, dishing out one after the other as though he is seeing them all on a television screen. “See, my brother, what we’re doing here is deliverance of you and your entire family,” he begins, before attempting to bamboozle me with the fear of death.
“For instance, would you like to get into things that will take your life?” he asks. “ You just heard that one of those after you is over 50; their aim is to take your life at a young age. But I see that your mind has not picked up this prayer.”
“My mind has picked it up, sir!” I cut in.
“Good!” he responds. “I just wanted to hear it from you!”
“I warned you the other day,” he continues. “Any atom of going back to what you have rejected will be disastrous. Call from any group for now, for this week, even after this week, do not answer.”
Another message is that there are people you have offended who are not happy with you. Your mother is still alive, but she is not happy with what is happening. In short, the entire family is not happy. The whole house is in disarray.”
Prophet Madu says the “forces” waging a war against me will not like to see me extricate myself from this mess, hence I must not inform anybody when coming for prayers for the next three days. “Tomorrow, next tomorrow [sic], Wednesday, don’t tell anyone where you’re going. Don’t!”
It scares me stiff. How do I leave home without telling anyone my destination? Could the prophet be planning something dangerous?
“Jesus!” Prophet Madu screams. “Why? Why? Why? Why did you allow yourself to indulge in this?”
THE CONSECRATED WATER AND THE HE-SOAP BATH
Prophet Madu starts to draw the curtain on the day’s activities. He tells me to buy a pack of bottled water that he will consecrate, and adds a stern warning that I am not to drink “any other water than the one we consecrate here”.
“Whether he is driving or in the room, that is the only water he will drink for the rest of this week,” he says. “And the money must come from his pocket; he cannot borrow. We want the effectiveness of this thing.”
He would later hand me the much-vaunted he-soap and local sponge, directing me to a bathroom where I am to wave the sponge over my head thrice after bathing my entire body. I meander my way to the bathroom, of course, but, as you can imagine, I do none of those! Instead, I splash some water on my face and all over my head to create the semblance of a bath, then return barefoot to the auditorium to kneel before prophets Johnson and Dike.
Prophet Madu opens a small bottle of unknown but oily substance, and anoints my two palms, outstretched, with it. He repeats the process for my heels. Prophet Dike rests his staff on my forehead as he begins another round of prayers, Prophet Madu pacing up and down, his staff on his right hand, his bottle on the left.
Afterwards, Madu asks to see the bucket with which I supposedly bathed myself. “Keep it here,” he says. “Nobody is going to use this bucket other than you; you will return it here every day after your baths. And when we’re done with the prayers, we will destroy it.”
With that, he announces that we are done for the day, and asks us to pay for the materials we purchased; we count N10,250 and hand it over to him. He says we will use a special kind of oil, to be purchased by Prophet Johnson, for the following day’s prayers. It’s N5,000; they get the cash immediately as well.
As we prepare to part, Madu reminds us: “For the next seven days, as you set out to come here, nobody should know where you’re going.” Then he adds: “Give him money, so he can buy a pack of bottled water that we will consecrate.”
When the water arrives, he prays on it, fetches a bottle, asks me to kneel down, and, accompanied by the shout of “Jah!”, flings a volume of it into my eyes. After that, he gives me a sip from the bottle, then another, and another. Then he hands me the entire bottle, telling me to sprinkle it “in your room, on your bed; everywhere”.
DAY 4: ‘BLOOD OF JESUS FOR SALE’… IT’S JUST N3,000
On day four, we return to the church seven minutes early for the 12 noon appointment to discover that Prophet Madu is unavailable. His number is, though; just that each time we dial it, he doesn’t answer. We wait. Five minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes. We start to grow impatient. What should we do? Why should the prayers be seven days, even, and not shorter? We approach Prophet Johnson.
“You know, this my colleague is somehow stubborn,” Johnson tells us. “He can come in and say if you won’t pray… but that’s not how to do things. This thing you’re saying now [duration of prayers], my spirit already told me about it, and that is why I used that ‘message’ to say you have to equip the people who are praying for you.”
Prophet Johnson proposes a shortcut: “When he comes, once you give us the money, we will share the money. We will use it to buy packets of candles and rosary to pray for you.”
“But, do you work on Saturdays?” he asks, referring to my earlier claims that I couldn’t come for prayers because I worked daily.
“Every day,” I answer. “Seven days a week, including Sundays and public holidays.”
“You have to tell him the truth [about your schedule],” he responds. “The only thing is to share the candles and each of us will continue the prayers.”
One hour into the wait, and with Prophet Madu not answering his phone, we approach Prophet Johnson for advice. Before answering, he leads us to his car, stuffed with a potpourri of spiritual materials, to fetch the oil he received N5,000 for the previous day. After then, he says he will give me ‘the blood of Jesus’ — for N3,000.
PROPHET JOHNSON STABS PROPHET MADU IN THE BACK
“Let me quickly give you now because if my friend [Madu] comes, he will not allow you go near it,” he says, pouring a deep red liquid substance into a small bottle of ‘Ijaw Dry Gin’. “But it’s because of what you told me about your tight schedule.”
Prophet Johnson tells me to introduce drops of this ‘Blood of Jesus’ in my bathwater.
Back to the issue, he says “Madu is somehow stubborn” and intends to take us to the much-vaunted wilderness, even though he thinks otherwise. “I told him that place is too far; there is a place at Ajayi Estate around here where we can pray. I told him that what you really need is sophisticated prayers; agile prayers!”
Seeing we’re bent on leaving with Madu nowhere in sight, Johnson admonishes us to take his number. “Look, I want to take you somewhere even if Madu isn’t present, I’ll do strong prayers for you. This time that he isn’t here is the best.”
We tell Prophet Johnson we’re fine with his idea of nearby prayers; however, he expresses a fear: there are people in the church who have already spotted us; they may implicate him with Prophet Madu if we leave together. For that reason, he proposes that we let him drive a few hundred metres away from the church and park by the roadside for us to meet up with him.
We let him leave, and we wait behind for a few minutes, as planned. But when we do finally leave, we drive in the opposite direction, never to return to that church!
This republic investigation from FIJ was published with support from The Initiative for Equal RIghts (TIERS)