The ongoing dispute between the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka Diocese, Rt Rev Godfrey Onah, and his priest, Rev Fr Paul Obayi, popularly known as Fr Okunerere, has raised significant concerns within the Catholic community and beyond.
The controversy revolves around allegations of oppression and mistreatment by church authorities in Nsukka, which has prompted outspoken priest Father Ejike Mbaka to voice his concerns.
Fr Obayi, who serves as the spiritual director of the Okunerere Adoration Ministry in Nsukka, recently accused the church hierarchy of oppressing him, despite his dedicated service and substantial contributions to the church. He claimed that the church was attempting to stifle his ministry, which has garnered significant popularity, paralleling the achievements of Father Mbaka’s own ministry.
In response to these allegations, Father Mbaka, known for his fervent public statements, issued a stern warning to those responsible for oppressing Fr Obayi. He categorically described such actions as a “sin against the Holy Spirit” and urged the individuals involved to cease their activities immediately.
Father Mbaka criticized the church leadership for failing to support priests who are wholeheartedly dedicated to the ministry. He emphasized the need for more “soul-winners” like Father Obayi, encouraging the Catholic community to stand behind priests who are diligently working to serve the church and its followers.
The renowned priest also expressed deep concern about the state of the Catholic Church in Nigeria, highlighting the loss of members to Pentecostal churches, a lack of trust in the church’s leadership, and the imperative of adhering to the teachings and faith of the Catholic Church.
In his concluding remarks, Father Mbaka drew upon his personal experiences, notably the conflict with his Enugu Catholic Bishop, Most Rev Callistus Onaga, and the temporary shutdown of his Adoration Ministry in June 2022. He emphasized the critical importance of unity, understanding, and support within the Catholic Church, especially for priests dedicated to their ministry and the broader mission of the church.
The ongoing dispute in Nsukka Diocese remains a topic of significant concern, with stakeholders awaiting further developments and hoping for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The controversy serves as a reminder of the challenges and tensions that can arise within religious institutions and underscores the need for open dialogue and reconciliation.