Reverend Father Paul Obayi, widely known as Fr Okunerere, a respected Catholic priest from Nsukka Diocese, has made the decision to leave the Catholic church due to alleged oppression he has faced.
Fr Okunerere, who established the Okunerere Adoration Ministry in Nsukka, Enugu State, has accused Most Rev. Godfrey Onah, his Bishop, of subjecting him to oppression.
Alleging that his local ordinary and fellow priests are forcibly attempting to seize his ministry’s land, Fr Okunerere expressed his intention to distance himself from the church.
In a 30-minute video shared on his Facebook page, Okunerere detailed numerous claims and emphasized that he felt compelled to leave the church.
He stated, “The church is my vineyard, and I hold great love for the church, my Nsukka (Catholic) church, the bishop, and the priests. However, I am currently facing oppression.”
Fr Okunerere recounted his struggle to find a suitable location for his adoration ministry, sharing that he was evicted from a rented space behind Queens College Nsukka after being accused of causing disturbances.
He further explained, “The former governor of Enugu State, Gburugburu, generously provided me with the land I am currently occupying. I showed the Bishop the land, but he insisted it should be used for the construction of the Marian Shrine. I clarified that I intended to establish my adoration ministry there, not a Marian Shrine. He asked me not to bring up the matter again.”
Fr Paul Obayi’s grievances extended to his financial contributions to the church, including the purchase and installation of a transformer for the Nsukka Diocese cathedral. Despite his efforts, he felt that the church’s treatment towards him was suffocating.
He claimed, “The Bishop instructed me to construct a museum where I could store the deities I removed from villages. I spent N2.8 million to build the museum upstairs inside the cathedral and reported it to my bishop. However, instead of expressing gratitude, he questioned the source of funds since he had previously banned the sale of olive oil. Nevertheless, I endured these circumstances.”
Additionally, Fr Okunerere shared his experiences with land donations and construction projects, highlighting instances where he poured significant sums of money into building projects that were subsequently seized by the church without acknowledgement.
Regarding his status within the diocese, Fr Okunerere expressed disappointment that his academic achievements were not recognized, unlike other priests who were acknowledged as associate professors. He also alleged that fellow priests forcefully attempted to take his land.
Fr Okunerere mentioned that he extended invitations to the Bishop to attend his adoration ministry, but the invitations were consistently declined on the basis of a lack of understanding.
Furthermore, Fr Okunerere revealed that the church authorities prevented him from participating in charismatic programmes, tearing up any programmes that listed him as a guest priest. He also claimed that the Bishop halted his plans to preach in London, citing concerns of heresy.
Concluding his video, Fr Okunerere announced his departure from the Catholic church, citing the ongoing oppression he has experienced as the reason for his decision.