The Anambra state government says it would investigate Onyeze Jesus, a prophet who recently went viral for filming his followers naked while performing what is believed to be a money ritual.
The controversial pastor was recently spotted in a now-viral clip spraying his ritual clients with a wad of N50 notes while filming them bathing naked in a local stream.
It is understood that he asked them not to look back as they bathed naked while claiming that the ritual process would make them rich straight away.
Onyeze, who is based in Nkpor, Idemili North LGA, also claims to magically better the economic status of his adherents.
Following the backlash that trailed the naked video, Don Adinuba, the Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, issued a statement on Monday faulting what he termed “criminal conduct” disguised as religion.
In the statement, the Commissioner added that the state government will not stand and watch while a handful of individuals “flagrantly abuse its values and bring the state into global ridicule”.
“The state government is appalled at the conduct of this man. Anambra people are famous throughout the world for industry knowledge, ingenuity, perseverance, a high savings rate, and an infectious business drive,” the statement read.
“Onyeze Jesus promotes superstition and strife in society. By telling his gullible and brainwashed followers that their misfortune is caused by family members, relatives, friends, and business associates.
“Through magical powers, he is fomenting serious troubles and instigating eternal enmity in various places and businesses. Some of these troubles can lead to physical fights, bodily injuries, and even deaths.
“By throwing naira notes into the river as part of his sacrifice to the river goddess, filming it, and distributing the film to the whole world, he has brought Anambra state into global ridicule and committed a criminal offence.
“Burning or destroying the naira through any means is an offence criminalized by the Central Bank of Nigeria Act of 2007, and the offender is liable to imprisonment.
“By forcing his disciples to bathe naked in a river, then film the naked adults and distributing the videos across the globe, Onyeze Jesus is guilty of denying his followers the right to self-dignity and of promoting indecent exposure.
“We received reports from former disciples that Onyeze Jesus swindled them of their hard-earned resources, that is, all the promises and assurances of turning them into overnight millionaires have proved to be fraudulent.”
Adinuba further stated that Onyeze will be prosecuted if found guilty of all the allegations made against him.
“The state government is looking into the claims. If we find merit in the claims, he will be prosecuted in accordance with the law,” the statement added.
“The people and government of Anambra state are irrevocably committed to fundamental rights of freedom of worship and freedom of association as well as freedom of conscience.
“However, observing these freedoms should not lead to a situation where heinous crimes will be carried out with impunity, whether in the name of religion or not.
“Anambra is a modern society governed by the rule of law, civilized values, and proper conduct. The government will not stand akimbo watching while an individual flagrantly abuses its values and flout its laws.”