Mbaka: Priest, Politician Or Renegade? by Reuben Abati

MbakaCatholic priests in Nigeria have always captured the public imagination, some of them have served in government positions, some were prominent in the fight and struggle for democracy, some of them have proved their mettle as poets, teachers, musicians, social critics, and public affairs commentators, but Rev. Fr. Ejike Camillus Anthony Ebenezer Mbaka is a cut above the rest, not necessarily in terms of intellect or persona, but in terms of how he has been able to use the pulpit to acquire a rock star status.

It is therefore not surprising that everything about him is with a touch of the histrionic. This is exactly what happened when he was transferred, last week, from a parish where he had served for 20 years: from Christ the King Parish, GRA Enugu, to Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Umuchigbo, Njinike, Enugu. Characteristically, this radical priest and social activist turned what should be a routine administrative posting by his Bishop into a melodrama and an assault on the authority of the Church. You would think he had been sentenced to a jail term, the way he whined and wept and appealed to sympathy.

“I’m going to suffer because I have no place to put my head. I am going to suffer because I have no place to keep the Adoration Ministry’s assets…The Adoration Ministry is passing through suffering right now even though I’ve accepted that it is the will of God. Is the will of God through suffering? It is a mega suffering. The quantum of the assets of the Adoration Ministry is the only thing I am bothered about for now. Where am I going to keep them? I am going to stay in one small room that has only one small bed, one small table, little toilet and bathroom. So where am I going to keep all the Adoration assets? “ I couldn’t believe that this was a Catholic Priest.

His pain was so palpable. He even took a shot at the Church: “I won’t fight anybody or even dream of battling anybody. If anybody allows the devil to use him, the same that advised you to make a mistake will laugh at you when you cry over the error.” This was a clear suggestion that the devil was using his boss, the Diocesan Bishop of Enugu, His Lordship Calistus Onaga, against him, Mbaka and the Adoration Ministry. Rev Fr. Mbaka further spoke with a touch of vanity about how he single-handedly built the Christ the King Parish, Enugu, with proceeds from the sale of his music albums. This priest is certainly special. He objects to suffering even if the Lord Jesus Christ, whose disciple he is, is the embodiment of sacrifice and suffering. He talks about assets in a capitalistic sense, and yet his reputation rests on his commitment to the poor. He finally says he accepts the “suffering”, sounding like a victim.

Mbaka’s melodrama was nothing short of an act of protest and incitement. It didn’t take long before a mob-like group trooped to the GRA, Enugu to help him move his things to the new church where it is said he will be an assistant priest. If his followers had laid their hands on the Diocesan Bishop, only God knows what they would have done to him for allegedly demoting their hero. It also didn’t take long before the spokesperson for the All Progressives Congress (APC), South-East Caucus, Osita Okechukwu issued a statement alleging that Mbaka was being victimized because he is pro-Buhari and pro-APC.

Okechukwu‘s intervention was a needless busybody act. He only stopped short of asking the Diocesan Bishop to reverse himself or get labeled as an enemy of the government of the day. Nor did it take long before the Catholic Church also put its feet down, stating clearly that no priest is above the Church. Mbaka definitely needed that reality check. But he had succeeded in politicizing his transfer and dragging the Catholic Church into mainstream, partisan politics with the Church holding the short end of the stick.

It is perhaps for this reason that the Catholic Bishop of Abuja Metropolitan See, Cardinal John Onaiyekan once asked that Rev. Fr. Mbaka should be sanctioned. He actually accused him of talking “rubbish” when he openly condemned President Goodluck Jonathan and insisted that the electorate should vote for Muhammadu Buhari, then Presidential candidate of the APC, who according to him, was destined to win the 2015 Presidential election. “I do not believe in my mind that the way things are in Nigeria, any Catholic priest has the mandate to decide which of the political contestants should be voted for… I don’t believe a priest should be doing that…If he was in my archdiocese, I will have sanctioned him long ago for the kind of utterances he makes.” Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama. President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), also similarly disowned him. Even with those protestations, Mbaka remained untouchable. He is on record as having declared in a secessionist mood, for example, that the sovereignty of Nigeria is not sacrosanct. “If we must be one Nigeria, let it be one Nigeria, but if it can’t be one Nigeria, let us divide…let us tell ourselves the truth.” He has also since the 2015 elections, made a high profile visit to the Presidential Villa to see President Buhari. He was actually shown arriving in a private jet, waving to the crowd as if he was on a Papal visit to the seat of power! How did one priest, out of over 30 million Nigerian Catholics, become so powerful and untouchable?

Rev Fr. Mbaka’s seeming invincibility lies in his significance and relevance. His Ministry is a loud comment on the relationship between the Church and the congregation. Mbaka is the founder and Spiritual Director of a Ministry within the Catholic Church known as Adoration Ministry Enugu Nigeria (AMEN). Gifted, creative and clever; he is without any doubt a liberation theologian. He runs a prophetic church, a church that believes strongly in the power of the Eucharist, and which in every sense is a church of the poor. His source of inspiration must be those liberation theologians and other radical priests who have proven that for the church to be relevant, it must be relevant to the interests, concerns and expectations of the congregation, particularly the underprivileged poor.

More than any other catholic priest in Nigeria, Mbaka has taken the Catholic Church beyond the confines of liberal conservatism to the ordinary man in the market place. He speaks the poor man’s language, he appeals to their imagination. He is the bridge between the Pentecostal churches and the Catholic Church in Nigeria. He has mastered the tricks, the rhetoric, the antics and the persona of the former, and he applies this with a touch of sassiness that is original. He urges members of his ministry to “Pray Until Something Happens” (PUSH). In an overtly religious and superstitious country like Nigeria, there is never a shortage of persons who are ready to push until the impossible happens.

He organizes vigils titled “E no dey again”. That is precisely what the people want to hear. They want to hear that problems, disease, unemployment- “e no dey again!”. Mbaka also has a Foundation, the Multi-Life Savers Foundation. Note the emphasis on the saving of lives! He pays hospital bills, he gives out cars, he builds houses for people, he pays school fees, he sponsors events. He sings. He dances. He is not your typical Catholic priest. He is rich. He talks about assets. Other priests go to him for financial assistance. He is an all-round entrepreneur in church garments. His Ministry performs miracles, signs and wonders. He makes the lame walk, he opens the eyes of the blind, he cures diseases; he spreads wealth and opportunities. He creates jobs. He provides hope. With all this, Fr. Mbaka is far ahead of his bosses within the Catholic hierarchy. Persons of other faiths and Christian denominations troop to his Ministry to seek spiritual counseling. Politicians seek his endorsement. He controls the mind of multitudes. The Catholic Church is probably in need of reinvention, and the seeds of that process may well lie in the example and eclecticism of Mbaka and his likes in other parts of the Catholic world.

The plain truth is that the average church-goer today is looking for something different which the orthodox churches and their mode of worship do not offer. The poor who make up the congregation are as impatient as the politicians who have made them poor. They want immediate salvation, practical solutions to their problems; they want their blessings here and now, not in a world to come. Mbaka and the Pentecostal pastors understand this and so they bring the church closer to the people’s needs. But there is a flipside and it is hubris.

Hubris is risky and pernicious. It is what makes Fr. Mbaka appear so contradictory. It is what has distanced him from his original vows as a priest, making him talk of cash and assets as if he were an investor on Broad Street. It is what makes him complain of suffering and see his transfer as a punishment, rather than as an opportunity for further evangelism of The Word. He must have started out as a humble priest, but today, he has mastered the use of the media for self-projection and he is not contented with being a priest, he is now enjoying the life of a celebrity, hugging the limelight, seeking personal glory. He runs a ministry of miracles, of wonders and signs and he sees visions of possible assassinations, either of himself or the politicians that he supports. No one should be surprised if this Pentecostal Catholic priest goes about with bodyguards. He shares this hubris with many other religious figures who seek to share power with politicians and co-govern Nigeria. They see visions about everything: from elections to diseases and foreign exchange rates. They have created a New Order under which they command the electorate, political parties and governments.

It is this hubris that has blinded Fr. Mbaka to the fact that the souls to be won for Christ are not only in GRA, Enugu, but in all places as well. His transfer to a smaller parish should remind him of the essence of his priestly vows: humility, simplicity, obedience, sacrifice, as well as commitment to the good of the church rather than individual heroism, values which can truly make him a priest in the Order of Melchizedek. Let him therefore, suffer if he must, and let his suffering be a blessing upon the poor and the Church, and if he as much as whimpers again, let him be posted post-haste to Sambisa forest, where the poor are in urgent need of miracles.

39 Comments on Mbaka: Priest, Politician Or Renegade? by Reuben Abati
  • Bukz February 5, 2016 at 6:30 am

    Uncle Abati, I did not even waste my time reading your article because I threw away my respect for your write ups when you betrayed your country and followers and ate your words because of… The priest you’re conderming is far more honorable than you! He spoke the truth when it matters, you are obviously more eloquent than him but I respect him.

    • Jessie February 5, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      Is Uncle Abati using your “respect” to eat Banga and Starch? Abeg go and sit down somewhere

      • huh February 5, 2016 at 3:42 pm

        Well, lack of respect (respect for self, respect for others) and honour is part of why the Nigerian society is where it is. A good name is better than gold madam Jessie, so kindly take a seat.

    • Nkechi February 7, 2016 at 1:00 am

      Romans 8:14 says that as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Transfer is not new. But the issue is this; is this just the usual transfer which authorities should wait upon the Lord for like the way Saul and Barnabas were separated for the work of the gospel or is this the type of transfer men indulge in just to punish another. Jesus had to die because it was God’s will and no one could prevent it but when men initiate something because they want to deal with you, then you have to cry for help. To be honest, I don’t know which of the two scenarios apply in this case therefore I refuse to judge, only God knows it all..

  • essy February 5, 2016 at 6:40 am

    Menh you can write.This a very Well written article even though I do not agree with some points you make, I enjoyed reading it 🙂

  • Nuna February 5, 2016 at 7:00 am

    VERY WELL SAID!! Any body who lives in Enugu knows about Mbaka and the nuisance he has become, which is very unfortunate. I live very close to CKC in GRA and on adoration days, that whole side of GRA is a no go area. He really started out as the model Catholic priest when he was ordained and somewhere along the line his growing fame entered his head. Like the church reaffirmed, no priest is bigger than the church and it stays that way. I completely lost respect for him many years ago when I first heard he outrightly rejected a transfer from the then Bishop for the reasons above. In the Church, obedience is highly valued especially among priests and the deanery. It is not your personal church, once you have chosen be ordained, you also chose a life of humility, obedience and sacrifice; these are values I believe he lost somewhere along the line. I’m even shocked he finally agreed to this transfer, maybe there was a catch to it. And he was not made an assistant priest, he was made a resident priest which is completely different. This man is all kinds of dramatic, God help us

  • esthero February 5, 2016 at 7:23 am

    Firstly.a priest is also a MAN.The same laws that apply to men or human beings apply to pastors
    1)Every man deserves to eat the fruit of his labor- Like it or not,this priest is a hardworking man and a good pastor to his congregation.He has produced/sang several songs which has brought him a lot of money.Also he has invested in the poor and in his congregation,and they in turn have invested in him so that is that.
    2)It is hard leaving a comfortable environment- After living a comfortable lifestyle and in a familiar environment,it would be hard for anyone to readjust in a not so comfortable environment.
    Secondly,most likely there is some politics involved but we will never know for sure.
    He has spoken against some politicians in the past so this might be a decision to punish him and deter him or this might just be a transfer with no politics because priest can be transferred to any place at any time.
    Anyways he should see the positive side of things,as he has grown his old parish,he can also grow this one.I wish him the best of luck!

    • Nuna February 5, 2016 at 7:58 am

      Sweetie, I get your point but for Catholic priests things are vastly different. Maybe you are a Pentecostal, I dunno. Yes it is good to enjoy ‘fruits of your labour’ as you put it, but this means something different for priests. It means the spiritual growth of the parish and the propagation of the word of God, especially to the poor. They do not live a life of flamboyance unlike Pentecostal pastors. Any money to be made even from using your God given talents goes to the spiritual affairs of the Church not for the Priest’s personal gains or popularity. That is where Mbaka got it wrong.
      Secondly for centuries, the Church has heavily invested in the spreading the gospel too poor and uncharted areas. That infact is how Christianity came to the ‘dark continent’ as Africa was called then. It is a tradition that continues even to this day, and that is why priests can be transferred to the bush and it is ok. My uncle has been a priest in Massachusetts for more than 30 years and he was transferred back to Jos and he is still there even with all the terrorism. So you see it is not a life of enjoyment. Even at that, the parish where he was trasferred to is not even in a village, this man just has a history of being extremely dramatic.

    • nnenne February 6, 2016 at 2:32 am

      Esthero…I take it that you are not a Catholic.
      Catholic priests have an oath different from other priests, part of it being no wife, children, etc.
      It is disappointing, to hear a priest cry over a mere transfer. Does it mean he doesn’t know what he signed up for?
      If so, he can always change his mind. He can leave the priesthood.

      The parish in Emene needs a priest. If he is complaining that he is going to suffer, who does he expect to be posted there?
      Someone who deserves to suffer?
      BTW what if he built the church in GRA?
      How about European priests that came to us , when Africa was a dark continent, built churches, schools, hospitals and still left?
      Is that not what the work of Christ is all about? Any public servant (civil servants, politicians, clergy, etc ), who cry “why me ?”, loses my respect.
      No matter how hard assignments become, a devoted public servant shout take a deep breath and rather chant,” Why not me ?”.
      That shows devotion and that is the only way things can get done.
      Who’s gonna do it if everyone shies away from the task? More so an ordained priest? ???

      • nnenne February 6, 2016 at 2:34 am

        Should take a deep breath. ..

  • Nnamdi February 5, 2016 at 8:02 am

    Sorry to say this but Mbaka is renegade. As much as some people will accept it but the reality is the reality the guy is just self centered egomania who make Catholic Church look bad the way he puts his mouth in Nigerian politics any time he gets make him a renegade.

  • A Real Nigerian February 5, 2016 at 8:04 am

    Who is this guy and why does he keep writing articles for BN? He seems like a wannabe who spends time reading foreign tabloids and ripping off of their style in a poor, lazy and desperate manner. He always tries hard to give the impression that he is a passionate person with something meaningful to say but if you look beneath the surface which isn’t even all that, all you see is a shallow, jumbled mess of bias and tonal inconsistency which also manages to be incredibly dense and stiff.
    Sadly, people like this won’t improve on their work because they receive praises about how well-written their shitty articles are from Nigerians who love to accept and encourage mediocrity every day and in every aspect of their lives.

    • Nonye February 5, 2016 at 11:26 am

      And who are you? You hide behind your computer and keyboard posting trash about things you cannot constructively respond to. Everyone knows Reuben Abati, but who are you? Nincompoop!!!! Can you even write an article one page long? Gerrarehere mehn!

  • Ify February 5, 2016 at 8:37 am

    @Nuna, I also live in GRA and you are correct!

    A catholic priest can be posted to Liberia, Congo, Syria or Iraq. That’s how it is done in the catholic church. It is not new.

  • Pinkus February 5, 2016 at 9:04 am

    This is what happens when fame enters ones head. This posting was way over due. Don’t think I know of any other priest that has been left in the same parish for 20 years. In his mind now he is a celeb. Biko father gave ya new parish and if truly the spirit is strong with you, you can rebuild ur ministry there.

  • xag February 5, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Abati, clearly your penmanship is reserved for only those who criticized the “God sent” regime of your master and sent him packing from the comforts of the capital, where were these withering words and your socially conscious pen when the Jesus piece, bling-bling wearing, vampire sunshades in broad daylight rocking Pastor, Ayo Oritsejafor was participating in private jet acquisition, contract execution, arms dealing and wallowing in the mud of partisan politics? The days when people looked at you as an impartial observer commenting for the sake of public good are long gone. Trying to creep back into public consciousness and acclaim through the back door will not work no matter how well-written and eloquent your pieces may seem, enjoy your loot in peace and save this sermon for members of your household lest the people looking for “Friends of Dasuki” remember the way to your house.

  • huh February 5, 2016 at 9:58 am

    What exactly gives Abati mouth to talk? Of all people to speak, a person who has lost total CREDIBILITY.

  • nuella February 5, 2016 at 10:28 am

    Ruben Abati should just shut his mouth. If everybody should call a catholic priest names, not a mess like him.

  • nuella February 5, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Or is it bc mbaka’s prophesies did not favor his former boss? He should just go back to his journalism profession if it is available bc he betrayed his colleagues too. when he entered aso rock , his dirty mouth also was kept shut with. stay off my priest case if you want to ever be happy in life or is it bc that efcc allowed you to be roaming about? wait it will soon get to your turn. ANU OFFIA!!!

  • Adaeze Writes February 5, 2016 at 10:41 am

    I see no reason whatsoever why Reuben Abati has to write an epistle about a priest in the catholic church.
    When it comes to matters like this where a priest involved,’ there is a body that can call him to order and that is the church.
    If his bishop transferred him after twenty years of faithfully serving in a parish and made him an assistant parish priest somewhere else, and Fr. Mbaka refuses to go, then that’s the church’s business and I can tell you categorically that if the bishop refuses to go back on his decision, Fr. Ejike Mbaka has no choice but to go on transfer.
    I really don’t see the reason behind your write-up, I don’t know what you are trying to bring to light. Did the priest loot money? Did he fraud the people? Does his going against his posting have anything to do with you? Let’s call a spade a spade and remain in our own lanes in this journey called, life.

    For interesting stories, visit

    • dzy February 5, 2016 at 3:21 pm

      Yeah I agree, the same way the APC chairman in Enugu was out of line to criticize the church for transferring their priest.

  • Missy J February 5, 2016 at 11:19 am

    I didn’t bother to read the article but my problem is… Why do people get upset when men of God involve themselves in politics?
    In the days of old God sends his prophets to deliver messages to the kings eg Elijah and King Ahab, Prophet Nathan and David so why is it different now? Is it because it sometimes doesn’t favour party?
    We need men of God to speak up against ills done by these politicians but we need them to be non partisan.

  • Bee February 5, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Jos is not a “terrorists” zone as you would think.

  • Valentine February 5, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    Reuben Abati was former President Johnathans Spokes man, what do you expect him to write?

  • Valentine February 5, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    Yes Fr Mbaka said he was going to suffer but in absolute obedience to the church, he will obey (I wonder why they keep skipping that) and he has moved to the ne Parish and even celebrated mass there last Sunday, I wonder why the likes of Reuben and his co travellers want again out of this?

  • prince February 5, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Father Mbaka’s transfer was merely wickedness from the PDP camp. Take it or leave it and you Mr. Oloriburuku Abati Alapa, that man speaks when you and your boss were busy embezzling our money. Come out and Swear with the lives of your children and family that you only left Aso Rock with your salaries and nothing more.
    So called men of God like Oritsejafor that are suppose to be speaking out were busy fighting for contracts and how their jets would be used to syphon money out of our dear country. This man say things the way the are and even when GEJ and his wife went there, he didn’t keep his disapproval of their administration from them.
    Abati, you are EVIL, and you have no single conscience and the fear of God is not in you. Most of you are just wasting your time going to church because its more curse that you’re reigning on yourselves, Even Jesus said, we should take care of the poor but you guys chose to make them poorer. You have some mighty questions to answer on the last day

    • Jessie February 5, 2016 at 1:22 pm

      PDP camp inside Catholic Church? Oga use your brain to reason please, its not for decoration. not everytime PDP this, PDP that, sometimes just think like a normal adult, it will not kill you

      • huh February 5, 2016 at 3:43 pm

        prince said “PDP Camp” not “PDP camp inside Catholic Church” — so maybe YOU need to use your own brain!!

    • Suffer February 5, 2016 at 3:47 pm

      @Valentine, Suffer what exactly? He should never have said those words as a faithful Catholic priest, whatever else he says after that does not matter… he already spoilt i

    • Suffer February 5, 2016 at 3:49 pm

      A priest is transferred from a parish he has worked in for 20 years and you are looking for who to blame? STUPID! how many priests do you know to have worked in a parish for twenty years – except they are old and ill?

  • rain February 5, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Mbaka is a hungry , hustler looking for his next victim and a noise maker …always in the press for wrong reasons

  • Ona February 5, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    This mbaka is very shifty and many igbo people know this. Lost major respect for him when he condemned ohakim flogging a priest and then few yrs later brought ohakim to his church when ohakim was running for a second term and changed his mouth saying ohakim was innocent…with no proof!….ohakim mustve paid him off ofcourse. Then he swore that chimaroke will never be reelected and that if he gets reelected he(mbaka) will disrobe and stop being a priest….well, chimaroke won a second term and we still dey wait siiiiince for this man to disrobe. Next he invited patience to his church during this past election and praised jona from here to jerusalem and even claimed that it was God’s will for him to be reelected (the video is on youtube)…..he prayed for patience etc and assured her that jona will win…..only for this man to come out 3 weeks later and say that God revealed to him that buhari will win. Lmao! Which kind of confused god is he serving? Pdp later claimed that he asked patience for her number after the service but she gave him the number of her personal assistant or something instead….mbaka now kept calling trying to reach her and jona but it didnt work….thats why he vexed and decamped lol! Rumor also had it that apc paid him hansomely to give that twofaced speech he gave against jona. The man is just an absolute nuisance and embarrassment. Im so surprised the catholic church is tolerating his antics. A man with his type of ego and greed shouldve opened his own church and do as he wishes.

  • Different February 5, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    I like the way Reuben Abati writes. This is me not looking at who is writing or who is right but just style of writing.

  • Jekwu February 6, 2016 at 9:40 am

    Fr Mbaka saying he is going to suffer is just buttressing the type of person he is which is a straight forward talking person. He doesn’t talk in riddles and it does not imply he is complaining but stating the fact. If I should ask Reuben Abati, didn’t our Lord Jesus Christ also said he is going to suffer?

  • olukayode February 6, 2016 at 11:42 am

    My Oga, Mr Ruben Abati, I love you. You have the pen of a. Ready writer. Well done sir

  • Damilola February 6, 2016 at 6:06 pm


    You should have read it, instead of typing rubbish. Reading an article is vital, so people can respond constructively with their brain not their a*ss. Reuben Abati is one brilliant writer. His writing is truly captivating. I didnt have much knowledge of Priest mbaka until recently. However, this write up also gave an interesting holistic perspective. Priest are held in a different, higher regard than Pentecostal pastor. Their lifestyle is, based on service to others in whatever condition or circumstance. If you want to go by catholic standard, this priest is definitely a nuisance. He has chosen this calling and he’s very aware of what it entails. So, he should do it with great honor instead of making a fool of himself.

  • obim February 7, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    Hé is a priest. u cant achieve anytin wit ur write up cos u failed to research well abt Fr Mbaka & d transfer as well. he is vry industrious & respectful BT always speak d truth witout fear or favour.Reuben pis TK note.

  • Eziokwu February 8, 2016 at 1:17 am

    Abati, you better look for a better job. It was a waste reading that.

  • Evy March 2, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    U all need to ask God forgiveness because non of u have the right to talk about the anionted man of God the way u guys are doing and as for u that wrote this what do u intend to achieve

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