A pastor has incurred the wrath of the youth in his town, following a decision he made to stop a young lady from getting married.
Pastor Gideon Chizoba of the Grace of God Mission in Nweke Ndiagu, Effium, Ebonyi state, received a thorough beating after some of the youths in the village learnt of the role he played in the marriage of a young lady identified as Onyinye Nomeh.
According to reports, even after her dowry had been received by her father, Mr Chukwuma Nomeh, Pastor Chizoba said since he wasn't the one who received the dowry on Onyinye's behalf, the marriage wouldn't be allowed to continue.
Onyinye who attends his church, was asked to ensure that her father returned her dowry to the man who came to marry her, even though she was already married traditionally. She carried out the instructions she received, as her father had no choice but to call his in-laws to receive the dowry, despite all his efforts to change his daughter's mind.
Mr Nomeh also reportedly met the pastor and pleaded with him to allow his daughter get married to someone she chose, and when he refused, he took the matter to his kinsmen after Onyinye and her step-sister packed their belongings to Pastor Chizoba's church, but their efforts yielded no fruits.
Even after Pastor Chizoba was arrested by the police following Nomeh's report, he still refused to release the girls, which led to the involvement of the youths who threatened the pastor and destroyed some of his properties. They also reportedly took N800,000 which was meant for the church's building project.
Explaining what transpired, Pastor Chizoba said:
“I told Onyinye and the husband to go for medical test before they will be wedded but the girl’s father opposed my advice. He said he did not undergo medical test when he married his own wife and therefore his daughter will not go for any medical test. The man had collected the daughter’s dowry in my absence and I asked why such thing was done in my absence because I have to be around to witness it.’’
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“I decided to change my mind on the marriage which is my right. So, I don’t think it is right for anyone to force me to do what I decided not to do.’’
Nomeh, when contacted, said:
“My family members attend Grace of God Church in Effium. One of my daughters, Onyinyechi, who attends the church came to me in the house with a man as her fiance. I asked her do you like the man and she replied yes. I also asked her if she has informed her pastor and she said yes.
I later went to the pastor and asked him if he was aware of this and he replied yes but that I supposed to come to him with a wine. The man and his relatives came for the marriage introduction, I and my relatives and kindred asked my daughter if she still wants to marry the man and she said yes. We poured a palm wine inside cup according to our tradition and gave to her and she drank and gave to the man.
The man in turn drank and gave to the girl to also drink and we said yes, the marriage has been consummated. This aspect is very vital in any marriage rite in our place. We then told the man and his relatives to go and come back for the payment of the dowry. They later came and paid the dowry. My daughter, who was present when the dowry was paid, asked me why the dowry was paid without the presence of her pastor.
I explained to her that the dowry can be paid without the presence of her pastor. I then reported the matter to the pastor, who queried why the dowry was paid without his being around. The pastor ordered me to call the man to come and collect the dowry back, that the man can’t marry the girl anymore. My daughter immediately left my house and went and stayed in the pastor’s church. Her sister later joined her and each time they see me on the road passing, they will boo me.
The pastor later rented house for them and they have been living there since nine months now and refused to return home. I have approached the pastor to release my daughters to me but he has refused to do so. I am calling on government and Civil Liberties Organization to come to my aid. I have reported the matter to Effium Police Division. The Police arrested him and transferred the matter to area command Abakaliki. The pastor was granted bail and the Area Commander ordered him to release my daughters to me but he refused.’’
Mr Nomeh's brother said he was surprised at his niece Onyinye's behaviour:
“I was surprised that a pastor will make a girl to hate her parents to the extent that any time she sees his father, she will beat him. Any time she sees her grandmother, she will slap her. There was a time she beat up her grandmother. We are no longer interested in anything marriage. Our interest now is how these girls can return to the family. Civil Liberties Organizations and government should help us bring these two girls back to us.’’
Speaking on the situation, the chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN), Effium chapter, said:
“We have tried to resolve the matter but our effort has remained fruitless. We visited the man to resolve the matter but they didn’t agree. It is the way the family is maltreating the girls that made them to run away from their house. If you see the way they are being maltreated, you will pity them. It is the father of the girl that called police for Pastor Gideon at Effium police station. From there, the matter came to the area command here in Abakaliki but he has been granted bail.”
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