The Catholic Church has spoken up on allegation by controversial priest, Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka that his transfer to a local village parish was a “witch-hunt” by the church authorities.
The Catholic Church says Mbaka is being sent “where he would be more useful to the church”.
In an interview with Premium Times on Monday, February 1, 2016, the secretary-general of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Reverend Father Ralph Madu said the transfer of priests within the Catholic Church is a normal church procedure.
“Such frivolities have nothing to do with the posting. His posting should have been a privilege, not a punishment – which the Bishop can do because he has the power. Mbaka’s own is not an exception. The Bishop has the right to post any priest wherever he feels his service would be more useful to the church,” Madu said.
The All Progressives Congress (APC), the ruling political party in Nigeria had issued a statement in the wake of Mbaka allegations condemning the Catholic Church for transferring Mbaka out of the Christ the King Parish, GRA, Enugu where he had served for over a decade to a local village parish, Our Lady Parish, Umuchigbo, Njinike also in Enugu.
In a statement signed by Osita Okechukwu, spokesperson of the APC South-East caucus, the party accused Bishop Callistus Onaga of being influenced by external forces in the decision to transfer Mbaka.
Mbaka, known for unbridled outbursts has said that he was sent to Ememe to “suffer” and lamented that he had no place to keep the assets of the Adoration Prayer Ministry, a popular miracle ministry in Enugu.
“I know we are going to suffer within now and few months to come,” Mbaka told hundreds of his followers who accompanied him to his new parish. “I am going to suffer and suffer; I know that. I’m going to suffer because I have no place to put my head. I am going to suffer because I have no place to keep the Adoration Ministry’s assets. I know I’m going to suffer.”
On Sunday, the South-East zone of the All Progressives Congress alleged that Bishop Callistus Onaga was manipulated by external forces into effecting Mr. Mbaka’s transfer. “As a party, we have watched with concern and trepidation the criticism, the attack, assault and unpleasant comments hurled against Fr. Mbaka since he providentially prophesied that President Buhari would win the 2015 elections,” the APC said in a statement .
Reverend Madu maintains that Mbaka’s posting is a normal process in the Catholic Church. “His posting should have been a privilege, not a punishment – which the Bishop can do because he has the power,” he said. “If he (Mbaka) says it’s a punishment, then it’s open for further investigation. Posting is a regular thing, a priest can be transferred after two, three, four, or more years, it depends on the discretion of the Bishop.
“That ministry (Adoration Ministry) is his private ministry; it does not belong to the church. Overseeing a parish is a full-time job.
“Overseeing a ministry is a bigger task. If the church decides to take him somewhere where he’ll have more time to carry out his ministry, how is it punitive? That should not be the language.
“He is supposed to be a missionary. What if the Bishop had closed down the ministry, which is within his power to do?
“Sometimes, transfers can be for the good of the priest as something can be going wrong which he might not be aware of. The Bishop is free to move any priest at any time; it is his prerogative,” Madu told the Premium Times reporter.