The Igbogene community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State penultimate week woke up to the tragic murder of Apostle Chimaobi Henry Ofor and a yet-to-be identified female worshipper, who were set ablaze by a jealous lover, Etifa Ibukilubu, who suspected that his ex-girlfriend – Elvina Japhet, was in the building.
According to Daily Trust Apostle Chimaobi Henry, as was popularly called in the community, served as NYSC member in the community some years ago. After his service year, he decided to settle there and founded a church, where he used his sitting room as the worship centre.
Late Apostle Chimaobi’s church – His Paraclete House of Prayer Church – had organized a prayer series tagged ‘Embers to Remember’ where all-night prayers were convened on the last night of every ember month to usher the members into the new month. The programme started in September 2020 and it was during the October edition that tragedy struck.
It was gathered that after the prayers on October 31, Apostle Chimaobi Henry and other members who could not go home in the early hours of November 1 were resting in the three-bedroom apartment when Ibukilubu discovered that his ex-girlfriend was among the worshippers and could be sleeping there also.
He (Etifa Ibukilubu) came with fuel, broke the window near where the pastor was sleeping and set him and one other female member ablaze.
About six other members of the church, including Etifa’s girlfriend Elvina, were said to have escaped death because they were all sleeping in the sitting room where the church service held.
According to the neighbours, Elvina had severed her relationship with Ibukilubu after she decided to give her life to Christ, but Ibukilubu would have none of it. He was rather in the habit of confronting any man he sees with the girl.
One of the church members and neighbour to the late pastor, Mr Kokoizibe Obadiah, told Daily Trust Saturday that late Apostle Chimaobi was a good man who was loved by most people in the community.
“Chimaobi came here as a corps member in the year 2000, and we became close to each other in our school here. He was friendly, he taught many of us and people liked him.
“So, after youth service, he was still around in Bayelsa and was occupying a room in the same flat with us, while his family stays in Ibadan. Few months ago, he started the Church and we all became pioneer members, he was doing well preaching and winning souls for God, but the devil passed through that evil man to cut his life short.
“We had night prayers on Friday October 31 till the early morning of Saturday November 1. The prayers ended around 3am, so some members could not go home at that time of the night. We all slept; some in the main parlour and others in the room.
“All of a sudden, we heard a shout from Chimaobi’s room, and when we rushed there, there was fire all over the room. A female member whom the fire touched died instantly. We rushed Chimaobi to the hospital where he was confirmed dead.
“Just like the Bible says ‘the devil roams about like a roaring lion looking for whom to devour’, Ibukilubu allowed himself to be used to destroy the work of God. When we get to heaven, God will judge us accordingly.
“Even the Elvina he killed people for has since stopped any form of relationship with him, but he refused to let go. Must he kill somebody for a woman to accept him for a relationship?
“Police have taken over the matter. Ibukilubu and Elvina have been arrested and they are currently in the police detention. I feel for the family of the deceased pastor, but God will certainly help them,” he said.
A resident who declined to be named said though the late pastor was close to Elvina Japheth, but he cannot authoritatively say they were into any intimate relationship.
He said: “Chimaobi has been in this community for a long time and most of us, especially the young people, are close to him. He was always playful with everybody, he taught some of us in school, even when he started the church, some people were with him. Why should anyone kill a man of God on mere suspicion? I know it’s the work of the devil and the devil always uses willing minds.
“The incident happened around 3am when people were sleeping, but to show how people love the late pastor, we tried our best to rescue him even at that hour of the night, but we were not successful as the fuel and fire were all over his body.”
Recounting how the whole community felt about the ugly incident, a resident who gave his name as Timi said it was unfortunate that a young man will go as far as killing another person because of girlfriend.
Timi, a motorcycle rider in Igbogene, said people still feel that the jealous lover had personal issues with the pastor apart from his ex-girlfriend attending Pastor Chimaobi’s church.
Police authorities in Bayelsa State command confirmed the incident, saying investigation is ongoing.
Command’s spokesman, SP Asinim Butswat, said the suspect Etifa Ibukilubu have been arrested and they are working to unravel the incidence that led to the crime.