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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 around!

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 answered, “no!”

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 (bradford@centerforinquiry.net) or Kevin Christopher (kchristopher@centerforinquiry.net). 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.]

[*] AAH Examiner Selected Articles

[*] Secular Humanism Online Library

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