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|I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by smile4kenn(m): 7:20am On Feb 28, 2009|
I collapsed twice and fainted as Pastor Chris Oyakhilome’s security men, pastor brutalised me
Simon Ateba, a journalist born and bred in Cameroun, got the beating of his life on Sunday when some security men attached to the headquarters of Christ Embassy in Lagos beat him until he fainted. Ateba relives his ugly experience in this interview with SESAN OLUFOWOBI. Why were you beaten up by the security men at the headquarters of Christ Embassy?
I was doing a story on the biggest churches in West Africa, so on Sunday, that is 22nd February, I went to Christ Embassy. I had already gone to the Redeemed Christian Church of God along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. I had also gone to the Winners’ Chapel at Cannanland in Otta, Ogun State. I was also supposed to go to Prophet T.B. Joshua’s church, which is the Synagogue Church of All Nations. I had written the story, so the only thing I needed to do was to take photographs. I had already got the photographs of all the other churches, so I went to Christ Embassy to get the photograph of the church. I got there around 4.30 in the evening with a photographer from Happy Days magazine. We had not taken the photographs. The church was located by the road side, so the photographer was looking for the best angle. He went to the other side of the road in order to get an establishment shot. The security men of the church sighted us from inside. Then they came of out from the church and met us at the other side of the road and told us to follow them inside. I told them I was a journalist. I brought out my identity card and told them that I work with The News and PM News, and that I was doing a story on the biggest churches in West Africa. I said the church had been mentioned in the story, so I needed the photograph of the church. I also told them that if they did not want me to take the shots, they could give me studio photographs of the church. They said no, I should follow them. They just gripped my trouser and dragged us inside
Did you argue with them?
No. There was no argument except my explanation. In fact, they came in a violent way. I think those guys were policemen or soldiers. Before I knew it, they just grabbed me with my belt and dragged us inside the church building. In fact, they did not mind the traffic. In fact, a car was approaching and could have killed all of us. The photojournalist was angry and he told them that they should not drag us like criminals because we are journalists. They said that we needed to take permission and we said they you should have told us that. In the course of dragging us, the camera of the photo journalist dropped. They picked it up and carried the man into the church. They started beating him, hitting him on the head. They made him to sit on the floor. I told them that a journalist should not be treated that way. They said ok, we should follow them. At that time, they had not touched me. So they took us to the office of the chief security officer of the church. I believe he is a pastor in the church. When I got to the office, I quickly called my News Editor and explained the situation to him. They told me to stop the call. I switched off my phone as they insisted.
There were four men and one lady in the room. They locked the door. They told me to stand behind the office cabinet and face the wall. I asked them why, but one of them hollered, ‘Mr Man, you don’t know where you are. If you say anything silly, we will beat you silly.’ I thought they were joking. For Christ sake, this is a church. I put my hand in my pocket to hold my phone. They just rushed at me and collected the phone. They them removed everything on me, including my I.D card. They pushed me behind the cabinet and insisted they wanted to listen to the photo journalist first. They then started saying all kind of things. They said journalists write rubbish, that they didn’t need my story. They said their pastor had made a name and so did not need my story.
What did you do?
I tried to explain to them that I believed that a church is a public place and that I did not know that I could be subjected to such violence in a church. They asked what I meant by that statement. It was the lady that said so. The lady was the worst person there. She looked at my suit and insulted it. By the way, that was my best suit. I bought that suit for the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence, because I won an award for action photography. That was the suit I wore that day. I bought it two days to the award. It is my best suit for now. But she looked at my suit and said, ‘See your suit, journalist. If you are poor, you should come to this place so that we can give you money.’ I did not know what to say. She got angry and said that if I kept looking at her she would slap me. I was shocked. I mean, a lady behaving this way? Later, they took us to another office. They checked the camera but they did not see anything because we had not taken any shot. Still, they refused to let us go. They started advising us. They told me never to come to Christ Embassy again. I told them that it is a public place because it is a church. They became furious and started giving me all kinds of blow. Then the chief security officer hit me on the left side of my head. He gave me a blow and I fell to the ground. I was not unconscious, I was just dazed, but I could hear what they were saying. They said I should sit on the floor. I tried to sit down but I fell again. They started laughing. They said maybe I was possessed. They said that was how their pastor used to deliver people at deliverance sessions. They said if I wanted to die, I should die. They said M.K.O Abiola died in this country and nothing happened. They started making jest of my shoes. I bought the shoes with 25 per cent of my salary and they were laughing at it. They said it was poverty that was deceiving me. Ah! They said all kind of things. Meanwhile my editor was trying to call me, but they had confiscated my phone.
Did you reply them?
Well, yes. I asked the lady what was wrong in being poor even if I were poor. The good thing to me was to work hard. They were just talking as if they were not born again. The level of violence in their words was out of this world.
Did the commotion not attract any of their senior people?
The people in suits were their top guys. They were actually pastors in the church. The ones that arrested us were mere security guys but the people in suits, including the lady, were actually the people that make decision.
Are you sure you didn’t have any problem with them before?
Never! The only thing I can think of was the story we wrote in The News magazine about Oyakilime’s billions.
Maybe that is what is bugging them.
I think so too. Because I went to Oyakilome’s father’s burial in Ekpoma, Edo State
Are you from Edo State?
No I am not from there.
Where are you from?
It is a long story. But I grew up with my mum. My mum is from Cameroun. I even had my education there. I got my degree in Cameroun. I studied Mathematics in the University of Yaounde.
So what happened in Edo State?
When he lost his father, I went there. The only thing they could remember about PM News and The News was that story about Oyakilome’s businesses. They said why did we talk about the businesses of the pastor when he was doing other things? But I never had any incident with them personally. I don’t worship there. I had never been there until that day. I just went there that day because of the story.
When you went to the other churches, the Redeemed and Winners’ Chapel, did you not follow protocol?
I did not have any problem. At Redeemed, I just took the pictures from outside. At Cannanland, they told us to wait till they finished service so that we would not snap the worshippers. We did not have any problem in those places.
But when they told you that you had to take permission at Christ Embassy, why didn’t you?
The way they came, it was not that they came and said, ‘Good morning, what can we do for you?’ They just came, grabbed us and dragged us. We could not talk. There was no time to talk. I even later explained to them that I was a journalist, that we were doing a story and that the story was not negative. It was about biggest churches in West Africa, that the church was mentioned. They did not listen.
How were you rescued?
The photojournalist’s boss is a white man. After they had beaten me and I fainted, the photojournalist begged them to let him buy me water. They allowed him. He now called his boss. The white man called some top officers in the police who ordered the policemen from Alausa Police Division to rescue us. When the police stormed the place, I was still on the floor, but I had regained my consciousness.
What did they do?
The policemen rushed me to the general hospital, to the emergency unit. I am supposed to collect the medical report on Friday (yesterday). They gave me some drugs and I went home. Yesterday (Tuesday), we went back to the police station and we now went back to the church to pick some people up, because only two of them were arrested that day: the head of the security and another man who was wearing an army uniform. But they were not the main people. The main people were those people in suits. We went back yesterday. When we got to the church, it was empty. All the offices had been abandoned. The police officer that led the team that went with me told me that he had called them that we were coming. I don’t think it should be like that. You don’t inform someone that you are coming to arrest him.
So they did not achieve anything?
The police left a note that they should meet us at the station. The chief security officer and the other man came. Everybody at the station knew him. They started hailing him. He gave some of them money. They were saying ‘Man
of God…Man of God.’
Are you saying you don’t expect anything from them?
No I don’t expect to get justice because the man is well known there. In fact, one police officer there was saying that he wanted to see Pastor Chris in person because the pastor had been sending cases to him and he had been handling it well. It was as if the man was power drunk. He was so comfortable at the police station. I asked the IPO why he invited us. He said he wanted to tell me that I should bring the medical report on Friday so that it would be part of their file. He said on Monday, we will come and sit together to resolve our differences. And if we can’t we would go to court.
So you are meeting on Monday?
There is no difference to resolve. I am suing them, the pastor, Christ embassy, all of them
Have they made moves to talk to you or your organisation?
No, they have not. They said they don’t care. That there is nothing journalists can write against Christ Embassy. They said they have already made their name.
So, what next?
I am suing them for N200 million
Is your organisation involved?
I have not informed them. I want to get the medical report. I will inform them.
So how would you compare journalism in Cameroon with what obtains in Nigeria?
The thing is that journalism here is strong. The whole environment is just hostile and tough. Any journalist that succeeds here can practice anywhere else and succeed. People are so suspicious. That is why journalists are being beaten and killed anyhow. People don’t know the role of the press. Even the Christ Embassy people, they don’t know that journalists also work for them. I am not against Christ Embassy.
What about Cameroun?
I think Biya has been there for amost 26 years. When it comes to the government, you know journalists have a lot of limitation. The guy wants to die in power. He has increased the salary of the police and the military. So they are the people helping him to rule the country. But journalists have some freedom with the people. What happens here is that besides the government, individuals, organisations, churches are so powerful. The whole atmosphere is…I don’t know.
You studied Mathematics.
Why did you take to journalism?
I love journalism, I love writing.
With what happened to you on Sunday, do you still like journalism?
Well, the risk is high and you are not well paid. But despite that, I don’t regret being a journalist.
If they send you back there, will you go?
I will still go. But there is something I want the National Assembly to do for us. They should make it clear that the churches and mosques are public places. That is why they don’t pay taxes. They are making millions and they don’t pay taxes. There should be freedom in places like that. That is why people are advocating for the Freedom of Information Bill.
Maybe they think you wanted to write a negative story,
The truth is that we are doing our work. News is what is unusual. You go to somewhere and you see 50, 000 people worshipping; that is news. It is not a daily thing. We should be determined. We should not let the tough environment discourage us. There is no turning back. You have to keep working until you are separated from the pack. And that was what happened when I won the DAME award. They told us that it was easy to write anything but to write what people want to hide is another thing. Many people have talked about their miracle; maybe they are scared. But we journalists should continue to write about it.
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by Nobody: 11:41am On Feb 28, 2009|
na waaoo for all this pentecostal churches
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by Martian(m): 2:43pm On Feb 28, 2009|
I can just imagine that scene "MAN OF GOD, NA MAN OF GOD BE DAT" lol.
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by AKO1(m): 3:22pm On Feb 28, 2009|
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by shinystar(m): 1:40am On Mar 01, 2009|
Oyakhilome's disdain for journalists is legendary and that is what informed the brutalisation of the guy.
This Pastor Chris is a disaster waiting to happen. He will crumble soon like a pack of cards. His end is near
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by Nobody: 1:48am On Mar 01, 2009|
His house has become a den of thieves.
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by otokx(m): 7:51am On Mar 01, 2009|
it is a pity, no difference between some pastors and some politicians
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by OBVIOUS(m): 8:44am On Mar 01, 2009|
who says you can't sue a business man, hehehehe
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by AKO1(m): 10:50am On Mar 01, 2009|
U know what's so funny? If they had just allowed the guy to take his picture jeje, we won't be hearing of all this one. They just intentionally and unnecessarily shot themselves in the leg.
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by otokx(m): 12:44pm On Mar 01, 2009|
The guy should thank God he came out of there alive.
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by fyneguy: 5:54pm On Mar 01, 2009|
and you really think this has brought Pastor Chris down?
It's obvious you guys know little or nothing about this man's ministry.
Well, the man's ministry is bigger than what your little minds can bring down. It's too late.
You must be thinking that Christ Embassy is just one of those roadside struggling churches which can fall like a pack of cards with the blow of the mouth.
You know what? - Keep wishing Christ Embassy speedy downfall while God continues to increase it in grace and growth.
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by SisiJinx: 9:39pm On Mar 01, 2009|
Was appalled at this story about a church until I got to fyneguy's post and all I gotta say is "Whew"
Thanks for setting us straight. . . this isn't Christ's Ministry, it is Man's therefore for anything goes.
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by Nobody: 11:01pm On Mar 01, 2009|
i was going to respond, saw your post and then decided not to. You hit the nail on the head.
The temple that man built unto himself = "christ" embassy.
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by Nobody: 11:02pm On Mar 01, 2009|
Is the news of the thread an example of such "grace"?
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by SirJohn(m): 4:45am On Mar 02, 2009|
You mean you can write such junk after reading that story? what a shame
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by AKO1(m): 8:44am On Mar 02, 2009|
Fyneguy, you're completely off point.
I believe you are a human being so use your brain.
Who is, according to you, 'bringing down' Christ Embassy, the poor journalist who was beaten for attempting to 'bring up' CE as one of the 'biggest' churches in wherever, or the CE people who molested him?
Use your brain bros.
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by Lagosboy: 9:03am On Mar 02, 2009|
Kai na wah for Nigeria o
Imagine a mere security guy beating up a jornalist in the west, absolutely disgusting that the CSO/pastor been hailed by the police for brutality.
Anyway "by their works we shall no them", "they are wolves in sheeps clothing" but gullible Nigerians would never see beyond thier noses. Wish all the chrisitans could go back to the churches of old and kick all these fraudsters masqurading as men of god away from Nigeria!!!
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by vicade(m): 9:05am On Mar 02, 2009|
By the way, i see Christ Embassy more as Chris Embassy.
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by PastorAIO: 9:27am On Mar 02, 2009|
Good point! I can imagine a situation whereby CE gets irrefutably disgraced and exposed, While Chris Oyakhilome dies in abject ignominy and wretchedness leading subsequently to his organisation growing exponentially and CE spreading further abroad, increasing in 'grace and growth', maybe Chris himself gets hailed as the second coming while his followers then start to await the 3rd coming. Such is the way of History!!
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by Rhea(f): 9:46am On Mar 02, 2009|
I guess all the journalist had to do was seek permission before brandishing his camera. You don't just jump into someone premises and start shooting, especially a business premises like Christ Embassy.
But if you think you have a case, then go ahead and sue him He sure can afford N200m, just like that, that is if he loses.
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by Lagosboy: 11:44am On Mar 02, 2009|
Read the post again as he said he was snapping from outside and not inside the premises.
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by PurestBoy(m): 1:35pm On Mar 02, 2009|
See bad belle people, BLW, That's My Church
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by AKO1(m): 2:06pm On Mar 02, 2009|
And is that enough reason to knock the dude unconscious?
I thought we were both living in the same civilization.
I know that is how all of you will see it, but must everything that is unsettling be bad belle?
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by blissfullynaughty: 9:00pm On Mar 02, 2009|
And people wonder why more and more people are turning away from God or organised religion. Those Nigerian pastors and churches are something else. It is so disgusting the way they are so tuned into money.
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by fyneguy: 7:20am On Mar 04, 2009|
AKO et al
Nobody is trying to justify whatever was meted out to the journalist. But it's illogical and unfair to link Pastor Chris to the act perpetrated by some officials of the church and hence using it to discredit the ministry as a whole.
And for you religious minds, did you expect me to say "God's ministry''? lol funny folks, you are no better than the High Priests and Pharisees in the bible days. Your interpretation of ''the man's ministry'' speaks volume for what you take christianity for.
Anyway I will not join issues with religious minds.
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by fyneguy: 7:30am On Mar 04, 2009|
You should know by now you are the last person I will join issues with. You and I know you have been commissioned by some church competitors to bring down Pastor Chris and CE, as your sponsors see him as a threat to their survival.
I often chuckle at your desperation at this ignoble mission. I wonder how much time you have left for you to achieve the goals.
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by SirJohn(m): 7:51am On Mar 04, 2009|
I dont have any business with Mr Chris and his money spinning empire or his business competitors as you rightly called them. I'm happy with my life; at least I dont have to give out my hard earned money for expensive suits, shoes, bleaching cream, relaxer and gel.
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by fyneguy: 8:02am On Mar 04, 2009|
oh yeah yeah, you can be in denial, for all I care, it does not change the truth. Your sponsors' ''churches'' really need your effort.
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by AKO1(m): 9:04am On Mar 04, 2009|
But fyneguy, if someone somewhere was healed while watching afm, it would be used to discredit, oh sorry, credit the man and the ministry. maybe pple don't want to use double standards.
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by AKO1(m): 9:08am On Mar 04, 2009|
sorry, I meant to say if someone was healed
by a member of ce.
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by fyneguy: 10:18am On Mar 04, 2009|
Well you talked about using the brain the other time,
Afm is anchored by Pastor Chris, hence people appreciate him and what the church is doing.
In this case, Pastor Chris was not directly involved in what happened to the journalist. Worse still, we have only read his own side of the story,
I have no problem with people criticizing the maltreatment of this fellow by some security guys in the church. However, the church and the Pastor shouldnt be targets in this case, if only the posters were not biased against the church. It's even more worrisome when you find christians ( (well may as well be christians by religion) engaging in this.
|Re: I Am Suing Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For N200 Million by fyneguy: 10:35am On Mar 04, 2009|
Healed by a member of the church? and the church will take credit for it?
hmmmm an after-thought right?
Ako, I still remember vividly that u and I have had some discussions in the past that almost made me believe u were a christian and even suspected you attended RCCG (or u are inclined towards the church and Pastor Adeboye- who also is being criticized by some spiritually confused lots)
I will advise you to remain a christian and by that, I mean be led by the holyspirit at all times.
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