The leadership of the Anglican Church in Nigeria has come under severe pressure to prevail on President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Dame Patience, to cancel their planned attendance of the third marriage of a controversial government contractor, Sir Wilson Emeka Offor, who is a prominent member of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Offor, 56, will on January 3, 2014, marry 24-year-old Adaora Ufondu in the residence of the bride’s father, Chief Alexander Okechukwu Ufomba, at Umuezopi, Oraifite in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State in a high-profile traditional ceremony which commenced on Saturday, October 12, 2013, and is estimated to cost several millions of naira.
Leading the opposition to Offor’s controversial marriage is a group of “Sir Emeka Offor’s brother knights of the order of St Christopher from the Anglican Diocese of Nnewi against one of us celebrating polygamy with impunity”, according to a member of one of the three delegations which have visited the diocesan bishop, Right Reverend Dr G. I. N. Okpala, in the last one week.
“Each delegation”, said the source who asked that his name be protected from the media for fear of attacks, “pleaded with the diocesan bishop to ask the primate of the Anglican Church in Nigeria, Most Rev Dr Nicholas Okoh, to use his good offices to stop President Jonathan and the First Lady from honouring the ceremony because the marriage is portraying the Anglican Communion in very bad light”.
The campaigners are counting on the fact that both the president and the wife are devout Anglicans.
Jonathan was on Monday, December 2, 2013, honoured by the global headquarters of the Anglican Church with the rank of Knight Grand Cross by the Noble Communion and Holy Apostolic Order of St Hadrian of Canterbury, a highly prestigious award meant for heads of state, royalty and the highest ecclesiastical offices, explained Bishops Doye Agama of Bayelsa State and Duke Akamisoko of Kubwa in the Federal Capital Territory who decorated the president at State House, Abuja.
Members of the Nnewi Diocese are also worried by reports that Offor has concluded plans to wed the new wife in the Catholic Church, rather than their own church where he holds a high title.
Noted an Anglican knight who was on another protest delegation to Bishop Okpala: “It will amount to a total disgrace for our dear church if one of its knighted members, all the more so a very prominent one like Sir Emeka Offor, should go elsewhere to wed”.
It is reliably that Chief Ufondu, an Onitsha-based trader, made wedding in the Catholic Church the sole precondition for Offor to marry his daughter with whom, it is gathered, he has been living in the high-brow Asokoro District of Abuja since 2011 when she was forced to abandon her undergraduate law degree programme at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus.
It is also gathered that Offor can be allowed to wed in the Catholic Church because it does not recognize his previous marriages on the ground that they were contracted outside the faith.
The protesting Anglican knights told our correspondent that “it is awful enough that one of us is advertising his polygamous status with glee, but what will be absolutely scandalous throughout Christendom is to have our president and his wife, both very senior knights of the Anglican Communion, attend the ceremony of the third marriage of a fellow knight”.
Offor has been married to his first wife, Mrs Nkiru Offor from Otulu in Oru West Local Government Area of Imo State since 1982, and to Joy Offor from Ubahu Orodo in Mbaitoli local Government Area in Imo State since 2002.