A popular Nigerian priest, Father Ejike Mbaka, and some members of his church, allegedly assaulted a BBC team and two others at his complex in Emene town in south-eastern Enugu State on Wednesday evening.
A report by BBC on Thursday said two of its journalists Chioma Obianinwa and Nnamdi Agbanelo, as well as their driver, Ndubuisi Nwafor, were on an interview mission to the priest’s ministry.
The team was accompanied by another Catholic priest, Father Cajethan Obiekezie and his assistant, Solomon Orakam, to Father Mbaka’s Adoration Ministry at around 10:00 on Wednesday.
At the time of the team’s arrival, the interview could not hold since Father Mbaka was preaching at the time.
Since the interview couldn’t hold at the time the team arrived at the ministry because the priest was preaching, the team was led by Father Obiekezie, who was the facilitator of the interview moved to Father Mbaka’s home after the church service to conduct the interview at around 17:00.
The journalists, who were waiting in the car after Father Obiekezie went to talk to him, were suddenly surrounded by about 20 men.
According to Obianinwa, the men seized their equipment and threatened to kill them for writing “negative reports about Mbaka”.
“Mbaka asked us to wait until the end of the programme for the interview. The men outside his house said BBC Igbo writes negative things about Mbaka and started beating Nnamdi, Solomon and Ndubuisi. They gave them heavy blows on their heads and all over their body,” Obianinwa said.
As the noise grew louder, Father Mbaka and Father Obiekezie came out of the house and he (Father Mbaka) started poking his fingers in her face, calling her “satanic”, the reporter added.
“This fired up the men to continue the attacks as Father Mbaka continued shouting and abusing us. He asked his men to seize our phones and cameras.
“They said they would kill us and nothing would happen. They removed my wig and tried to strangle Nnamdi. Father Obiekezie was telling them to stop but they attacked him too and seized his phone,” she said.
The attacks stopped, According to Obianinwa, when she screamed that “the world would know that they were killed in Mbaka’s house”.
“At this point, Father Mbaka asked us to leave before his men killed us. He asked them to return our equipment and they chased us out of the compound. His men trailed us till we left the state to seek medical assurance and police help,” she said.
When the BBC called the number on Father Mbaka’s official Facebook page for his reaction, it was switched off.