A Tale of Lies, Deceit, and Fraud
by Leo Igwe
Leo Igwe is the director of the Center for
Inquiry–Nigeria, and the secretary of the Nigerian Humanist
Movement. He is a strong skeptic and a long-time critic of German
evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, a favorite among Nigerian Christians.
Following is his investigation of what is claimed as a literal “21st
century resurrection story.”
On March 6th I was in the southern Nigeria City of
Onitsha to investigate the 21st century resurrection story. I arrived in
Onitsha by 9:00 a.m., Nigerian time. I went straight to the Church of God
Mission International, a gigantic cathedral located along Nkisi Road.
When I arrived at the church, none of the pastors was
around. I was asked to wait. About two hours later I met one of the
ministers who introduced himself as Pastor Barth. He refused to discuss
the matter of the supposed resurrection with me. Instead, he advised me to
wait until the pastor in charge arrived.
Two hours later I was ushered into an office where
Pastor Barth and the minister in charge of relations, Pastor Paul, were
seated. I informed them of my mission. Pastor Paul said that the story is
true, and that the whole episode was recorded on videotape. I wanted to
purchase the tape, but they said that the people in charge were not
I then asked to see and meet with the modern-day
Lazarus, Pastor Daniel Ekechukwu. Pastor Paul gave me directions to his
home at Osuma Lane, along Awka Road in Onitsha. Before leaving, however,
Pastor Paul brought me what he said was the photo of Daniel when he was in
the mortuary. I asked him to give me a copy of the photo, but he refused,
saying that it was the only copy they had!
I mounted a motorbike and left for Osuma Lane. Upon
arriving there I inquired as to where I could find the house of the man
that was resurrected from the dead. In very little time I was directed to
the place. Pastor Daniel Ekechukwu was not at home, however. The family
members said that he had gone to Lagos so that the charismatic evangelist
Reinhard Bonnke could take him abroad.
In any case, they received me very well. They invited
me into their living room and narrated the whole story again. They showed
me several photos of Daniel when he was in the mortuary, on his supposed
day of resurrection, and so forth. After much pleading and persuasion,
they gave me the photo with Daniel in the mortuary.
Before I left the house, I called the younger brother
of Daniel, Mr. Kingsley Ekechukwu, whom was reportedly involved in the
auto crash that had injured Daniel. I asked him to tell me exactly what
happened. Kingsley told me that after the auto crash, Daniel had been
taken to Charles Borromeo Hospital—a popular clinic in Onitsha. While
there, Daniel had complained of “spiritual attacks,” and requested
that he be transferred to a private clinic in Owerri, which is about 80
kilometers from Onitsha.
On their way to Owerri that Friday, Kingsley said,
Daniel stopped breathing. Upon their arrival at the clinic, the doctor
advised them to take Daniel’s body to the hospital. His body was
deposited in a local mortuary on that same day. Kingsley informed me that
on Saturday night, Daniel’s wife, Nneka, had a dream and was instructed
to take Daniel’s body to the Rev. Bonnke, who was then visiting Onitsha
for prayers. Kingsley said that he had had a similar dream.
The following Sunday they had gone to collect
Daniel’s body. At the mortuary, Kingsley said the mortician was
complaining that Daniel had been disturbing him and had not allowed him to
sleep for two days. The mortician had related that on the night that
Daniel’s body had been deposited in the morgue, he heard people singing.
When he went to investigate, however, the singing stopped.
Kingsley further stated that on Saturday night
something pushed him and caused him to hit his head on the wall as he
attempted to embalm Daniel’s body. For this reason, he did not embalm
Daniel’s corpse. According to Kingsley, they transported Daniel’s body
to Bonnke’s meeting in Onitsha that Sunday. There, Daniel was revived
during a prayer session. To confirm what he had said earlier, I asked
Kingsley if Daniel’s body had been injected with embalming fluid. He
Personally, I do not believe that Daniel Ekechukwu
ever died. First, Kingsley confirmed that Daniel’s body had not been
injected with embalming fluid. According to medical experts I interviewed,
however, a corpse should have a strong odor and the abdomen should be
swollen after three days if it is not embalmed. Judging from the photo of
Daniel when he was said to have been at the mortuary, and according to the
testimony of his brother, this was not the case.
Second, it is unlikely that any doctor certified
Daniel’s death at Owerri. Third, it is hard to believe the actions that
supposedly transpired after Daniel’s request to be transferred. It all
sounds like a mishmash of lies and fantasies.
Background Information and Comments
It must be noted that in Nigeria today, much
supposedly transpires through faith healing and miracles. Nigerians have a
voracious appetite for religious and supernatural nonsense. Pastors will
especially go to any length—ritual killings, murder, and sacrifice—to
prove their calling, power, and mandate. Many Nigerian pastors claim that
they can cure HIV/AIDS and other incurable diseases. People take part in
arranged confessions. HIV patients, after prayer sessions, alter their
medical reports to reflect that they are negative. Those who claim to be
possessed by demons wiggle and throw themselves on the ground during
religious revivals. Holy mountains and adoration grounds are springing up
daily. Nigerians troop to these places to hear messages from God through
the mouths of people of questionable mental health. There is much
dishonesty, fraud, and deception in the land.
The case of Daniel Ekechukwu, however, is an
unprecedented one. None of the Nigerian religious maniacs has gone to the
extent of claiming to have risen—or to have been raised—from the dead.
That is just a pathetic symptom of the extent to which Nigerians have
fallen in terms of religious madness, gullibility, and simplemindedness.
After all, common sense tells us that no one comes back from the dead, the
folktales of Jesus and Lazarus notwithstanding.
Some Nigerians are wondering why an evangelist of the
caliber of Reinhard Bonnke would decide to associate himself with this
dubious and fraudulent story. Why would Bonnke, who calls himself a man of
God, go so far as to lie to the world by claiming that Daniel Ekechukwu
was injected with embalming fluid? Moreover, if the Rev. Bonnke thinks he
has the power to resurrect people from the dead, why did he not revive the
hundreds of Christians that were massacred in Kano in 1991 following his
visit to that city? Why did he not bring back to life several Nigerians
who were trampled to death during his crusades in Benin and Abeokuta?
One thing is certain. All efforts must be made to
promote skepticism, rationalism, and free thought in Nigeria.
Nigerians—like other Africans—need more science, reason, and free
inquiry. We welcome assistance from Western members of the Committee for
the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), and
other interested organizations.
[Editor’s note: CSICOP is interested in receiving
papers and news stories on the paranormal in African nations. CSICOP
publishes the Skeptical Briefs newsletter. Submissions should be no longer
than 1,500-2,500 words. Send them to co-editors Ben Radford (firstname.lastname@example.org)
or Kevin Christopher (email@example.com).
Or send them by postal mail to P.O. Box 703, Amherst, New York,
14226-0703.For more information, visit the CSICOP Web site at http://www.csicop.org.]