Nigerian priest whose followers stormed cathedral apologizes to bishop

Fr. Ejike Mbaka Fr. Camillus Mbaka. Courtesy photo.

Fr. Camillus Mbaka, whose followers, believing him to be missing, vandalized the cathedral and episcopal residence in Enugu last week, apologized on Sunday to his bishop and to the Church.

“I am, on your behalf, kneeling down for the Church and I say may the Church forgive. What has happened has happened,” Fr. Mbaka said to his supporters May 9 while saying Mass at Adoration Ministry. “I am asking my Lord Bishop Onaga and all the priests of Enugu diocese and for everybody to rest the case.”

Fr. Mbaka, 54, is the founder of Adoration Ministry. He was ordained for the Diocese of Enugu in 1995. His ministry’s Facebook page has more than 2,600 followers.

His followers stormed the residence of Bishop Callistus Onaga of Enugu demanding to know the priest’s whereabouts May 5. They destroyed property, and desecrated the altar of the city’s cathedral.

Fr. Mbaka resurfaced hours after his followers stormed the episcopal residence demanding to know the priest’s whereabouts, as they thought he had gone missing.

The protesters claimed that Bishop Onaga had invited Fr. Mbaka for a meeting on May 2 and since then, Fr. Mbaka had not been seen.

Fr. Benjamin Achi, communications director of the Enugu diocese, described the alleged disappearance of Fr. Mbaka as “misinformation” in an interview with ACI Africa.

“He has resurfaced at 2:40 p.m. after a mob attacked the bishop's house this morning destroying lots and lots of things,” Fr. Achi said in reference to Fr. Mbaka.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria, Fr. Mbaka arrived at the residence of the Bishop of Enugu May 5 “in a motorcade amidst jubilation from his Adoration faithful.”

“He, however, stopped in front of the Bishop’s court and addressed his supporters urging them to remain calm and return to the Adoration ground for further information,” NAN reported.

During his May 9 Mass, Fr. Mbaka said, “I render my sincere unalloyed apologies to the Holy, Roman and Apostolic Church where I belong and say may the Mother Church forgive us in any way we didn’t do it well. Even in all that I said, where I didn’t say it well, we pray for their forgiveness.”

He recounted that “when the protest continued to gather more momentum that day, I was asked by my bishop to come and take away the protesters to avoid the situation getting out of hand.”

“You know the issue attracted media hype; Fr. Mbaka is missing, Mbaka has been kidnapped and all that. But I was never kidnapped,” the cleric clarified, adding, “I was at a place where my bishop asked me to proceed for personal prayer.”

Fr. Mbaka blamed the destruction on “hoodlums”, whom he said “hijacked” the peaceful protests in search of his whereabouts.

“There was a lot of mixed information. The devil entered the story,” he said, adding, “I did not clap for anybody for destroying anything. I heard that the search for Fr. Mbaka was hijacked; people joined and started breaking things.”

“I never knew that even a glass was broken. What I was praising you for was not for what was destroyed, but for your ability to search for your missing pastor,” he said, adding, “I wish to apologize to whoever misunderstood my statement.” 

“I, Fr. Mbaka, standing here, I am a child of the Holy Mother Church, and all the faithful are also children of the same mother Church,” he said, adding, “I stand here to tell you that nothing can destroy the Church. I speak as a messenger of God and a mere servant.”

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He continued, “Fr. Mbaka has no problem with the Church and I do not have any problem with my bishop.”

“Enemies want to achieve that by causing discord, but I will not allow it because there is something in me that will conquer such problems. That thing is the gift of humility and obedience to the Church, to the glory of God,” Fr. Mbaka said.

He emphasized, “I can’t disobey the Church; who am I? How can somebody who has been serving the Church for 25 years come out to begin to fight the same Church? Everything in my life is for the Church.”

“We are to save the image and face of the Church, and the souls of the children of God. I am here for soul-saving; the church is not my property, because I belong to the Church,” Fr. Mbaka went on to say.

On May 6 Bishop Onaga announced a week of prayer for atonement and reparation. He described the May 5 incident as a “heinous act” against the sanctity of the Church and called on the people of God in the diocese to repent.

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