Otohotoho’s Death: Methodist Bishops React

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A steady flood of angry reactions have greeted the recent newspaper report on the alleged leadership tussle in dioceses of the Methodist Church Nigeria (MCN) in Akwa Ibom State.

The report which was published last week in a local tabloid (not The Sensor) quoted an unnamed female member of the MCN congregation with claims that certain bishops were involved in a diabolic plot to take over the vacant leadership of Umuahia Archdiocese. The plot, the newspaper said, resulted in the elimination of Bishop Edet Otohotoho whose remains are to be interred this Friday. Otohotoho was said to have been favoured to fill the position left by the late MCN Archbishop of Umuahia, Emmanuel Ekpenyong who was buried recently.

In a swift response to the front page story which ran under the banner headline: Unholy Temple! Methodist Church in a Mess, the MCN Bishop of Eket, &. Rev. Edem Offiong said the story of the plot could not be true since the selection of ranking ministers in MCN was usually done in a judicious manner.

He said, “You cannot know who becomes what until you get to the Electoral College”. According to him, the late bishop had a life-threatening ailment and had been advised to go to Lagos for better medical attention but chose to stick to his personal physician. Asked whether he was among those lobbying for the position of Archbishop, Offiong expressed satisfaction with his present position. “I have not finished my work here as Bishop of Eket, so I am not gunning for any other office,” he said.

The MCN Bishop of Oron, Effiong Esedeke told The Sensor reporter on telephone that the demands of work are enormous and leave him with no time to struggle for a higher position. “I am yet to establish visible milestones here in the diocese. The work here is so great that I don’t have time to comment on any development in the church. I will like to make my impact first”, he stated.

A visibly enraged Bishop Koko Bassey of Essien Udim absolved himself of involvement in any plot in response to insinuations that Otohotoho’s death may work in his favour since he had been working behind the scenes for the position of Archbishop. “God will surely reward any one spreading evil reports concerning my person. I am close to my God and whoever tarnishes my image will not end well. Mark my words. Killing people on account of position is not a Methodist tradition. It can happen in other churches but not here”. Bassey dismissed the report as an attempt to put the church to ridicule and charged rumour mongers to excuse the church from their activities.

Reacting to the alleged complicity of bishops in Otohotoho’s death, a top ranking official and Trustee of MCN, Sir Sunday U. Akpan said, “I cannot give any reaction to the story because it lacks basis. We will like to know those behind the story, but I don’t know if the Archbishop (of Ikot Ekpene) has seen it. He will know how to handle it.”

Archbishop Emmanuel Udofia declined comments when the reporter called his cell phone. He said he was pre-occupied with his official duties in Calabar diocese. But a close associate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the popular cleric was outraged because his picture was published alongside the story. Waving a copy of the offensive tabloid at the reporter, he said, “See what your people have done. What connection has Archbishop Udofia with Otohotoho’s death? I can tell you that Bishop Otohotoho and Udofia were very close. In fact, it was Udofia that recommended the deceased for episcopal office in 2006. Udofia was Otohotoho’s mentor. He worked closely with the late bishop in the State House Prayer Team during Gov. Akpabio’s regime. The Archbishop has decided to place the matter before God and in due time the perpetrators of this evil act will be exposed to the whole world.

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