by Lekan Olanrewaju
Being a Man of God in Nigeria these days is pretty controversial stuff it would seem. When our religious leaders aren’t spreading the word or running major enterprises, they seem to find themselves riling up the public, what with all the outrage over Pastor Chris Oyakhilome’s statement about the sinful nature, or lack thereof, of a certain act, and criticism of Pastor T.B Joshua and his prophecies. Then of course there’s Bishop David Oyedepo, who’s had many barbs thrown at him recently, from all the controversy over his airline, to the “witch for Jesus” slapping saga.
As a matter of fact, that slap is the reason Nigeria’s wealthiest pastor is making headlines again.
Sometime in 2010, Bishop Davio Oyedepo was recorded on video slapping a female member of his congregation who was supposedly a witch.
The video didn’t go viral till late 2011, with many people speaking out and condemning the act. It’s since been taken off the internet, but he spoke about it, stressing the fact the lady came to beg him after the incident.
“I slapped a witch here last year, do you remember?” he said. “The witch came back in February to come and apologise! To beg me to please forgive her. She went back to her witchcraft company and they told her ‘Ahhhh if the man says you’re dead, you’re dead’”
Well, it turns out she did come back. Or at least someone’s coming back on her behalf. A Lagos based lawyer has announced that he has filed a suit at the Ogun State High Court on behalf of the young lady who was slapped by the pastor.
Robert Igbinedion, speaking to the Premium Times, said that he was seeking an award of N2bn as ‘general and exemplary damages’ against Mr. Oyedepo.
“If a wrong is done to the young lady, she is bound to receive justice for that wrong,” he said.
Igbinedion who is a Solicitor at Salus Populi Chambers said that the young lady was given a “dirty and thunderous slap” by the pastor for answering an “illegal” alter call.
“The respondent (Mr. Oyedepo) made the alter call for witches to come out,” he said. “He did not make a similar call for other categories of sinners like illicit drug dealers, contract inflators, fraudsters, adulterers, and fornicators in the church.”
Mr. Igbinedion, who represented the victims of the celebrated Pastor Emeka Ezeugo (popularly known as Reverend King) at the Magistrate court, in 2006; stated that cases of violence in the place of worship if not nipped in the bud could escalate into ‘uncountable’ dimensions.
Furthermore, he said the calling out of the young lady (and others) as witches are illegal, unconstitutional, and a breach of Section 34 of the Constitution of Nigeria, African Charter on Human and People’s Right, and United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Right.
The suit asked the court to compel Mr. Oyedepo to issue a self-signed public apology to be published in two national dailies and one international satellite television station.
It also wants the respondent to issue a similar alter call for drug dealers, corrupt government officials, bribe-giving contractors, and other category of sinners who are members of the church..
When you think of the N2billion suit, you will do well to remember that, according to Forbes, the good bishop is worth at least $150 million.