A former university teacher with Anchor University, Chidi Ogbuehi, who was alleged to have helped his purported brother, Solomon Ogbuehi, a supposed evangelist with the Mountain of Fire and Miracles (MFM) to abscond while on a pilgrimage to Israel, has refuted reports indicting him of the act.
Citing the report titled: Pilgrim’s Guarantor Arrested For Absconding and published online in The Sun Nigeria on August 31, 2022, he said the story, which emanated from a statement issued by the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC), was prejudicial and misleading, as it “evidently contained deducible fallacious inferences.”
Responding to the report, he explained that he was discharged and acquitted of the case on September 23, 2022, stressing that members of the public should always be given the right to know the facts from the two sides of every matter.
“I still wonder why the NCPC’s representative, who issued the press statement, while the case was in court, failed to inform Nigerians that I was actually discharged and acquitted of the case if the media trial was not ill-conceived and contrived,” he said.
Speaking further, he said sometime in 2021, a relation of his, who shares the same surname with him, indicated interest to go on a pilgrimage to Israel and requested him to endorse his guarantor’s form as part of requirements for all intending pilgrims, which he did without hesitation.
Narrating his ordeal, he said: “I couldn’t envisage any danger in anyone undertaking such a trip, neither did it occur to me that I will be questioned for doing good, after all, I was convinced that the young man was responsible.
“I was still working as a lecturer with Anchor University. The contingents were scheduled to travel in April 2021. However, the trip could not take place in April or in December, going by the original schedule for the trip. I was not privy to when next they were to undertake the trip. On October 6, 2021, I resigned my appointment at Anchor University and took up another in November.
“But on July 4, 2022, the pilgrims eventually departed Lagos for Israel in the company of some reputable staff members of the NCPC. Three days after departure, one of the female staff members who travelled with them contacted me on my WhatsApp line to say that my brother was missing in Israel and requested that I should try to reach him if I had his WhatsApp contact.
“The news instantly brought about conflicting notions in me, I hastily made several frantic efforts to reach him, but the line was not connecting. I reached back to the woman in Israel and forwarded the pilgrim’s WhatsApp contact to her which she confirmed to be the same number she had. She requested for the pilgrim’s spouse’s contact that also I promptly did.
“She equally connected with the pilgrim’s wife and informed me that the woman was alarmed on hearing that her husband was missing in Israel. I also spoke with the woman myself at which point I became more curious and requested to know what exactly happened in Israel before the pilgrim was declared missing.”
He further explained that he resolved to visit the NCPC’s office when the contingents returned to Lagos to know exactly what would have happened, but he started receiving calls from the Abuja office of NCPC, first from a female voice and later a male who spoke aggressively. “By this time, the story line has changed from missing to absconding, a twist that brought more complexity into the saga. The male voice accused me of knowing where the pilgrim was hiding in Israel and I could not understand the rationale behind the twist.
“On Friday, July 29, 2022, I received a call from the Directorate of State Security (DSS) to come to their office on Monday. I honored the invitation on Monday, August 1, 2022 and volunteered detailed information of what happened from my end.
“The details included details of the guarantor’s form I signed, personal details, and my present identity card which bears no resemblance with my former place of work. After going through my statement, I was granted administrative bail after a cumbersome and protracted process of perfecting the bail conditions. But at the end, the court ruled in my favor and I was subsequently acquitted and discharged,” he said.