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I am Igbo by DNA – Bishop T.D Jakes



Renowned American preacher, Bishop T.D Jakes of the Potter’s House, has said that his ancestors are Igbo, from South-East of Nigeria. He said the DNA study he conducted with few other famous black American reviews that several of his friends too where from Nigeria; spread across the ethnic regions.

The bishop disclosed this in an exclusive interview with the BBC Igbo.

Speaking at the interview Bishop Jakes said:

“Mine was traced back to West Africa, to Nigeria and particularly Igbo. My ancestors were Igbos. It’s indescribable. It gives something that we the African-Americans don’t have, which is roots.

“It gave me an understanding of my roots. It was interesting to see how similar my personality is to how Igbo people are described. They’re described as hardworking, industrious and innovative.

“They have strong business acumen. I deeply relate to that. It explained to me; it’s odd that I was never born there, yet, see so many traces. I’ve always had strong business acumen.

“I’ve been aggressive in business. Although I’ve been known for the faith aspect, I have several companies and I’ve owned my own resources. My children all started studying ancestry about Igbos, and even more about Africa. I’ll like to reconnect with our brothers and sisters over there.

“When I’m in Nigeria, I eat fufu and jollof rice. I have those kinds of experience. I’ve had more than I can name. I go to Accra in Ghana and Lagos quite often.

“What I know about the food is that it’s almost always hot and spicy. I ate it before but the food over there is so hot it makes your head sweat. And I like it.

“One of the tragedies of the slave trade is not just that we were taken from our home, culture, people, and food. We lost our history. African-American history is taught over here from boat landings.

“And we assumed a name that does not define us. Jakes is a German name that only signified who owned my ancestors. To reach beyond the boats in chains to touch a soil where I’m from…

“To understand that my ancestors were something before they were a slave is extremely gratifying. It really confirms why I have such fascination about the continent of Africa.”

Get more information from the BBC Igbo Interview with Bishop T.D Jakes on the video here.


My ordeal in herdsmen kidnappers’ den – Fr. Marcel Onyeocha Cmf



My ordeal in herdsmen kidnappers' den – Fr. Marcel Onyeocha Cmf

On Saturday night, April 10, 2021, the ugly news of the kidnap of a senior Claretian priest and renowned professor at the Imo State University, Owerri, Rev. Fr. (Prof.) Izuchukwu Marcel Onyeocha cmf started to filter into town. The next day, Sunday April 11, the news was everywhere in Nigeria and overseas, especially in the social media, and there were many versions of it. At midnight that Sunday, April 11, Fr. Onyeocha was miraculously freed by his abductors.

In this interview at the Claretian University Hospital, Owerri, where he is receiving treatment, Fr. Onyeocha shared his agonizing experience in the hands of his Fulani herdsmen abductors. It is touching, heartbreaking and harrowing.


Fr. we thank God for your freedom. There are many versions of both your abduction and release. What exactly happened?

What happened was that I went to Enugu for a wedding. One of my former students was wedding at Enugu. He had written his Ph.D on my Philosophy and he wanted me to be present at that wedding. He even went the extra mile of getting a driver to drive me to that place because I wasn’t well. After the occasion, we started coming back and on the way our car developed a small problem of “Break & Quench.” It started from Enugu and if you re-started it, it started until we got near Ihube Junction, it wouldn’t start anymore. So, the young man (the driver) got an okada to take him to Okigwe Roundabout to get an electrician because we suspected it was fuel pump. So, they brought a fuel pump within 15 minutes and it was noticed that it was not fuel pump that was at fault. By then it was getting to 6pm, that Saturday evening. So, the electrician called to see where he could get the Coil, as many had already closed shop. They eventually got the coil and were back in about 15 minutes. Then he fixed the coil and everything was alright. It was when he was closing the bonnet, that these people swooped from the bush, and attacked us.

How many of them?
They were six in number and they are all herdsmen. They were armed with unsheathed machetes and other weapons inside their bags. They dragged me out of the car and started punching me, kicking me, and hitting me with the flat side of their machetes. It was terrible; they were hitting my head. They left marks on my face. They kept dragging me into the forest for more than an hour. All this happened in the forest; they didn’t take me to any building.

While these things were happening, nobody helped you – No security people around?

Everybody ran away, even the driver and the electrician. I didn’t know if anybody came anyway. It was the herders that told me that they were not interested in those people (the electrician and driver) but me, the big man sitting in the car.

It was completely dark; I couldn’t see anything, may be they see in the night because they were walking as if they were walking on the road, through potholes and mounds. Since I couldn’t walk by myself, they dragged me and if I fell down, they beat me. We got to a place and they sat down. It seemed they cleared that place. We sat down and they were threatening me, that they will cut off my head. They asked me to use my phone to call my people to send them N50 million. I said I didn’t have such money. Even, they said they were going to use my phone to video the cutting-off of my ears and after which they will remove one of my eyes to show the people that they were serious. They said they were giving us some time to meet their demand. So, later at about midnight, they moved from that place to another dark place. Then, after about one hour, they moved again to another place till Sunday morning. I didn’t know where I was. I didn’t hear any sound; the sound of anybody, vehicle etc, and there was no footpath there.

I was saying my prayers quietly throughout. And they were using my phone all the time, not their own, playing computer game with it until they exhausted all the airtime. Then eventually, they said okay, they came down to N15 million. I said to them, ‘I’m not sure I’ve seen one million naira cash put together and I’m sure I’ve not seen it. But they said, it doesn’t matter to us, sell that car and people will pay at least N10million to buy it and send them the money. And the negotiation continued. They were threatening me, every minute throughout the ordeal. Around 5pm (Sunday), they said okay, you know your phone will run out soon and if these people don’t bring N15m, we will kill you this night and then move on, and go where we can get money. This is business, this is our job to get money; so they should stop wasting our time.

Then around 6.30pm, there was a sudden change of heart as one of them said, if we release you now, can you find your way to the Express Way? I said, I don’t know where I am unless you show me the way, but if you release me, I will thank God, I’ll thank you. They said, no, no, your people should bring N15m. Sell that car. If you sell it for N10m, we will take it.

The change of heart I noticed was when they sheathed back all their weapons and went to one side. They were no longer standing behind me with their raised machetes. They now stand among themselves and conversing among themselves in their language and if anybody called me on my phone they would put it on speaker and will mention their demands.

All along they were asking some tricky questions like, what place is this? I told them I didn’t know and I didn’t know actually. At about 10pm, they said you will walk by yourself if we let you go. I said, if you showed me the way, maybe some people will help. They said not yet. They were waiting till midnight. At midnight, they said, alright, let’s go. They were holding me by the shoulders as we were walking. Then they came to a footpath, a road junction where the foot path joined. One went right the other went left. They said okay. They pointed towards the right and said, go there, you’ll get to a village first and you’ll ask them how to get to the Express Road.

So, it was a dead end they were sending me. That place was a Quarry, a construction site, there was no road leading anywhere. Below it was a gully, on top of it were high piles of latrite, and as I was trying to find my way, a huge rain started. There was no shade and all the rain fell on me. By the way, they also gave me back my handset, so, I used the torch of the handset, and was raising it, calling for help. Well, I saw some light flash but they would flash and then disappear. They were perhaps afraid too. Eventually one of them mustered the courage, approached and flashed his light on my face from behind; I turned, showed my face and introduced myself etc. They were security people, I think guarding the Quarry. They had to take me by the hand like a little child.

Meanwhile, that rain was so severe that the mud almost reached my knees. They brought me out from the forest and took me to where the other security people were. They were armed, legitimate security men. They used their phone to call the armed forces, military team. They came in their patrol vehicle immediately; put me in the vehicle around 1 am. They said they would take me to the nearest hospital but I said don’t take me to any hospital; take me to any Catholic Church. They took me to a Presbyterian Church. But I said, no it’s the Catholic Church I want to go. So, they now turned and only then I knew that the Express Way they were talking about is about 20kms from where they dropped me. They took me to St. Mary’s Cathedral Okigwe. Everybody had gone to bed. Two seminarians came out, and the priests started emerging. They took good care of me that night. Meanwhile, when the Cathedral Administrator came, he said the police called him and said I was in the Cathedral. The priests did me proud and brought me back to Owerri safely. Now, I’m at the Claretian University Hospital for evaluation. I can now stand and walk.

What do you think informed their change of heart becoming kind after threatening to kill you?
Will I tell you? Isn’t it God? Who else can do it? They saw I was a priest and they tore my clothes and threw them away saying, it doesn’t matter to them. All they needed was their money. They just changed suddenly and gave me back my phones. Even one of them asked if I could give him the bigger phone and I said take the phone if you want. He said no.

What was their language? Were they speaking English?
They were speaking good English but that was when they were talking to me. To themselves, they were speaking their language. I didn’t understand a word throughout the ordeal. I think when they began to have a change of mind, instead of their drawn unsheathed weapons, they now sheathed them back and instead of standing behind me, they now went apart, about six feet away, conversing quietly, while I was seating where I was seating. I cannot say this or that informed their change of heart, I think God.

Don’t you think that their oga, having heard the tension generated by your kidnap, may have told them to release you immediately?
Well, not that I was aware of because they have their own phones too with which they were communicating. I didn’t know what they were talking about. I don’t know what informed them but they were very calm; gave me my phones back.

What food were they serving you?
I ate nothing. I had one bottle of Eva Water, that’s what I drank on Sunday morning around 7am. That’s all I had until I came out. They made me an offer and went and bought malt, biscuit and bread and they were offering me, I said no, that I was sick and needed to go home and take my medicine.

Which means there is a village nearby where they bought the snacks?
There was a place where one always went to and came back with a black bag full of the things they need. They knew what they were doing.

Do you think the villagers are not aware of their presence and menace around the area?
Those people are clever. I think during the day, they parade themselves as herdsmen but at night, they do what they do.

How old are they?
They are teenagers. I think the oldest of them is not more than 22 years.

Were you blindfolded?
They didn’t blindfold me. But they made me look in the same direction they were looking and I could see them with the corner of my eyes but what could I do. Even if I look at their face, will I fight them?

We thank God you did not stay as much as Bishop Moses Chukwe stayed in kidnappers’ den
Yes, but what I would say is let nobody experience anything near what I went through. I think it is the worst type of thing anybody can experience; not even for a minute.

Did they bring in other victims within the period?
No, I was the only person they held and in that case, I knew that the chances are only as slim as that, to say let’s go without their getting what they were looking for. Even when they say go, I thought they were going to shoot me from behind. They didn’t shoot me. They just left. I think it is God.

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People-oriented Constitution, way out of Nigeria’s political delimma – Political Analyst



People-oriented Constitution, way out of Nigeria's political delimma - Political Analyst

In the recent months, there have been a lot of criticisms against the continued dependence on the military-fashioned 1999 Constitution, which most Nigerians have come to regard as the major challenge to efforts to move the country forward.

They believe that Constitution, a product of the myopic and selfish interests of the powers that be in that era, lack foresight and proper understanding of the multi-ethnic and multi religious diversities of our people.

A Political Analyst, Dr. Moses Ajeka, who spoke recently to The Leader in Owerri over that flawed constitution, insists that until this anti- people’s Document is jettisoned, “we would continue to get it wrong in terms of political participation of the masses”. 

The analyst, who holds a PhD in Political Science and also a security expert, having retired from the public service with the rank of superintendent of police, blamed the present Constitution for the turmoil, crisis, and other forms of insecurity plaguing the nation.

“It is time for a political re-thinking if our nation is to move forward economically and politically. We can no longer do without a new constitution. This is the time to usher in a very powerful constitution where everybody, no matter from which part of the country he/she hails from, will be an active participant in the socio-political and economic scheme of things.

Dr. Ajeka queried: “Is Nigeria the same today as it was before or soon after Independence or even during the post war years? The world is changing, life is dynamic and change is the only thing permanent in nature. How do you expect such an oriented constitution as the one we are operating to remain relevant till today?”

He regretted how some sections of the country are treated as chaff, as if they don’t belong or have anything good about them. The political scientist recalled how for many decades, major tribes like Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, dominated the leadership of the country in all sectors. Such exclusive governance, he said cannot continue in the present time. What about the Tivs, Igalas, Kanuris, Ibibios, Itsekiris? A new constitution will ensure that adequate recognition is given to all these as it will get them well represented in the scheme of things. 

Dr. Ajeka condemned the ill-treatment given to retirees by various state governments who fail to pay their pensions and gratuities as and when due but politicize and rather use endless verifications exercises as a delay tactics.

“A situation where a person who has served his nation for 35 years or more cannot afford food to eat or medications for his health in old age is simply in human,” he said.

The security expert also blamed the state of insecurity which has so tarnished the image of Nigeria, mainly on youth unemployment. What is the population of youths and how many of them are able to earn a living? Dr. Ajeka who attributed all of this to bad governance called on government to take advantage of the abundant fertile land in Nigeria, which is so favourable to agriculture to sponsor mechanized agriculture. In addition to providing jobs for youths and boosting foreign exchange earnings, it will also put an end to insecurity. Our industrial sector can be accelerated if only the political class stops their nepotism and operate policies that would encourage economic growth.   

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“St. Valentine Preached And Championed True Love”

Rev. Fr. Dr. Cosmos Edochie
(A Canonist and member Archdiocesan Tribunal)

The Leader: Fr, Sunday is feast of St. Valentine, can you let us know more about his person, what he did and what he stood for.

Fr. Edochie: We are talking about St. Valentine. He was a human being like every one of us, but he chose to become a priest. On February 14, around the year 270 A.D., Valentine, a holy priest in Rome in the days of Emperor Claudius II, was executed. Under the rule of Claudius the Cruel, Rome was involved in many unpopular and bloody campaigns. The emperor had to maintain a strong army, but was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. Claudius believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families.

To get rid of the problem, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the Decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Valentine was arrested and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. The sentence was carried out on February 14, on or about the year 270.

The Leader: Fr, in a morally perverse society like ours, where youths engage in sexual immorality every 14th February in the name of celebrating Lovers Day, what do you say to youths?

Fr. Edochie: St. Valentine was opposed to immoral lifestyle and upheld chastity of life to the fullest as against what we have today where youths engage in sexual escapades and fantasies in the name of love. St. Valentine preached and championed true love and not immoral love, which today is popularly called “Lovers Day”.

The Leader: Fr, how do you see the feast and its celebration in our clime?
Fr. Edochie: In our clime and time today, we have really misconstrued St. Valentine’s intension and what he did and see it as an opportunity to mess around and desecrate our bodies which is the temple of the Holy Spirit (Cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20), and there are consequences for desecrating our bodies (the temple of the Holy Spirit), “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple (Cf. 1 Corinthians 3:17).

The Leader: As a priest what do you advice the youths on their mundane approach towards the celebration of the feast of St. Valentine?

Fr. Edochie: As priests, everyday and particularly on feasts of St. Valentine, it is my point of call and duty to tell the youths who abuse this day the intension of St. valentine. He frowned against living in immorality, opposed it and gave his life for it, and that is the supreme sacrifice which Christ talked about; “Greater love has no one than this: for a man to lay down his life for his friends (Cf. John 15:13). So Valentine’s Day is not a day of immorality, but a day to show agape love typical of John 13: 34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. The bible says, “God is love” (Cf. 1 John 4:7). If God is love can God live in immorality? So anyone living in immorality is contradicting the commandments of God.

Can you celebrate God in immorality? The answer is NO! Youths should learn and understand that love is different from infatuation, marriage is a union, contract and a covenant and before youths venture into it, they should strive to know and understand each other very well and not love at first sight. Away from that, youths who have the culture of engaging in sexual immorality on this day and always, St. Valentine also calls on them to stay away, he also calls on married couples to live and respect marriage chastity and be faithful to their partners. Lastly, all and sundry should keep salvation in mind, which will help them live holy lives, because without holiness of life no eyes shall see God (Cf. Hebrews 12:14).

“Feast of St. Valentine is not a day for sexual fantasies and escapades”

Barr. Sir. Paul C. Onumajulu Jnr. (KSJI)
(Owerri based legal practitioner and human rights defender)

The Leader: What do know about the celebration of the feast of St. Valentine?

Barr. P.C. Onumajulu: To your question about the celebration of St. Valentine otherwise called “Lovers Day”, I will take it from the perspective of a married man. I have been married for the past eight years precisely on 28 September 2013 to Dr. Mrs. Chikodili Onumajulu. It is important that the parties to any marriage love themselves, but there is more to marriage than love, you must have dedication. You must have respect, you must have commitment and responsibility, it is not enough to love your wife or your wife to love you. But there is a limit to what love can endure and eventually turn to frustration.

The Leader: What role does forgiveness play in marriages and relationships?

Barr. P.C. Onumajulu: Forgiveness is very necessary in love, as well as tolerance. Marriage is a union of two different people coming from different orientations and backgrounds. Where there is love and understanding, you don’t need to wait for there to be forgiveness. In other words, to forestall the event that will bring about asking for forgiveness, you must tolerate, because once you tolerate you won’t count wrongs anymore. Don’t forget for there to be forgiveness, there must be a sin. For you not to be counting wrongs, you must therefore learn to live and tolerate the inefficiency and inadequacies of your spouse. In my eight years of marriage, I have never raised my hand on my wife, any day I do that, that is the end of the matter. So one must always be guided.

The Leader: Generally among youths what does the feast of St. Valentine connote?

Barr. P. C Onumajulu: Again I say, the feast of St. Valentine gives this connotation of immorality among youths, regrettably the feast of St. Valentine has over decades been misconstrued for a day of sexual escapades among youths, when they lodge in hotels, they invite women (even among married men and women) which is very wrong. There is joy and gain in waiting for sex till you get married. I have better understanding now as a married man compared to my mindset as a bachelor. Love is not sexual fantasies and escapades. While I admit that youthful exuberance is behind this, but it is not the best. It is important we start from our families to tell our children who St. Valentine was, what he stood and died for, so that when they grow, this wrong notion and misconstruing of the feast of St. Valentine (Lovers Day) as a day for immorality and sexual escapades must have been drastically reduced.

“Everyday Should Be 14th February- And True Love Is Sacrifice”

Miss Uche Aluka (Staff Assumpta ICTDS)
The Leader: When you hear about feast of St. Valentine and its appendage Lovers Day what comes to your mind?

Miss Uche Aluka: For me, true love is sacrifice just like St. Valentine did. He gave his 3Ts, (Time Talent and Treasure) for the sanctity and sacredness of marital union. Basically, he did it for those whom he knew can’t reward him in any way. He did that because he had love in him and by so doing loved them. So I am of the opinion that everyday should be February 14 and that love, is a sacrifice.

The Leader: Do you have any disappointment on the way youths celebrate the Day?

Miss. Uche Aluka: It is actually disappointing that we have lost the real sense and meaning of what we celebrate every 14th of February, and in the bid of such frivolities many of our youths and young people waste their lives, it’s unfortunate.

The Leader: Uche, what is your advice to your fellow youths?

Miss. Uche Aluka: My advice to youths is that they should be careful the way they celebrate the feast bearing in mind that corona virus is in town. They should cut down their expectations and unholy desires for nothing is worth dying for except the word of God. In a normal sense, everyday should be February 14, because we are called to love everyday and I mean agape love both singles and married. St. Valentine died protecting the love of married couple. So sad our youths have refused to learn, understand and adhere to this.

“Marriage Is A Union Of Not Only Two Lovers But Also Of Two Good Forgivers”

Engr. Christopher Chukwuka Ezeji (Chukas)

The Leader: Sir, what do you know about St. Valentine?

Engr. Christopher: St. Valentine was killed for protecting the love and sanctity of married couples. In itself, love is a very holistic word, but sad enough in our own time it has been subjected to various forms of abuse. For us to understand what love is we must draw it from God who is love himself and out of love he created us. The manifestation of his love for us was proven beyond doubt when he sent his only begotten son to die for us while we are still sinners whereas, some translations will say while we are still his enemies that St. Valentine tried to replicate God’s kind of love by giving-up his life in the course of upholding the sacredness of Christian marriage

The Leader: What is expected of married couples during the Feast?

Engr. Christopher: This is the kind of love married couples are expected to carry on in their matrimonial homes. Just as God did not spear his only son but sacrificed him for our sake, couples must therefore learn to make sacrifices as a manifestation of the love they have for each other which goes beyond mere words, and feelings. When we learn to do so, it becomes a way of life for us.

The Leader: Sir, in a morally perverse society like ours, where youths engage in sexual immorality every 14th February in the name of celebrating Lovers Day, what do you have for them?

Engr. Christopher: In many forum and fora, I have always told youths that sex which they christened fun (fornication) is morally wrong. As a Christian and a catholic who grew up just as they are growing up in this same perverse society where immorality is in conflict with civilization, I do tell them that sex is worth waiting for, because when you get in to marriage you will understand that there are more to marital obligations than the conception of sex. There are things that matter most in life not sex of which our youths out of ignorance and uninformed opinions celebrate and indulge in on every 14th February. They should focus on what the future holds for them in a country where the leaders have no plan for them, come to think of it, after sex what’s next?

The Leader: Furthermore, concerning priorities, again what do you say to the youths?

Engr. Christopher: As a way forward and to save the future, like myself, every couple should make their children their friends, open up to them, educate them on the virtues and the moral teachings of the church, by so doing we will secure a better future that will not be morally perverse like the present generation.

The Leader: How much and how well do you understand the love of God on us?

Engr. Christopher: The love and relation of God towards us is something akin to a child’s play. For instance, whenever we sin and are ready to approach the confessional for the sacrament of reconciliation, God in the person of the priest (Alter Christus) is already seated waiting for us to return and be accepted. Even when we leave the confessional promising not to sin again, God in his wisdom knows we will come back and he is ever willing to forgive us even when he is aware of what we have planned to do and how we intend to do them. This beyond what words could fathom is the proof of his love for us. From this we should be able to borrow a leaf for the love he dispenses and show same to others.

The Leader: As a married man, what is marriage?

Engr. Christopher: Marriage is a union of not only two lovers but also of two good forgivers. One who is not ready to forgive should not venture into marriage, because you are dealing with a human being and human beings err. Just as God forgives us when we repent of whatever sins we may have committed, in the same way you should be ready and willing to forgive your partner even before he or she wrongs you. This is the only way it works, if you are not a good forgiver, then don’t venture into marriage.

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