The Niger Delta Bishops Forum has been described as a fraudulent group formed for personal gratification and for ‘stomach sake,’ with no plans on ground to move the church in the Niger Delta forward.
This allegation was recently made by some bishops of Rivers State origin who also accused the group of tarnishing the image of the church in the Niger Delta while also bringing the office of the bishop into disrepute.
One of the bishops, who pleaded anonymity, told TPCN that leaders of the Niger Delta Bishops Forum, since the group’s formation, have been busy visiting one politician or the other in different parts of Nigeria with no other intention than to collect money from them under the guise of preaching peace in the country.
According to the bishop who owns a ministry in the Township axis of Port Harcourt, leaders of the Forum, after collecting money from such politicians, share same among themselves, without contributing anything to the church in the Niger Delta.
“When they collect such monies, they share it and begin to plan on how to visit another politician in Abuja or any other state. They have visited Atiku Abubakar, they have visited some Muslim leaders, they even visited a mosque sometime ago, all in the name of preaching peace, yet they have not achieved anything. All the money they collected, they didn’t do anything with it, they only shared it among themselves and when they want to organize programme, they will start looking for money.
“What they are doing is wrong and degrading for the church and the bishopric office in the Niger Delta. They are making mockery of the Niger Delta Church and some of us are worried,” the bishop said.
Another bishop, who said he owns a church in Port Harcourt, also condemned the Niger Delta Bishops Forum, describing them as a group of hungry bishops who go about dancing around politicians for their own personal gains.
He said: “The Niger Delta Bishops Forum is not a group we can reckon with because they are not representing the Niger Delta church. They are representing themselves. They are only using the name of the Niger Delta to extort money from politicians and religious organizations. They are fraudsters.”
Asked if some of them who do not like the group have made any effort to call the Forum’s members and their leaders to order, the Kalabari-born bishop said: “They are people you cannot advice. They feel they know everything. I tried to talk to one of them but he almost abused me, asking me what my business is.
“So, there is no point trying to change them but what we have done is to form a reputable group of well respected bishops who have integrity and good track records of positive ministerial impact. That’s why today, we have the Rivers Bishops Forum.
” We feel that is the only way to restore the integrity of the church in Rivers State and to a large extent, Niger Delta. That is why before you can be a member of that Forum, you will be screened thoroughly. They do not want bishops with questionable character to join that group. You can imagine where you have people like Bishop Iwo in the group. That will tell you that the group is not joking.”
When TPCN contacted the president of Niger Delta Bishops Forum, Bishop Julius Ediwe, for his reaction to the allegation, he declined commenting on the matter.
It will be recalled that the Niger Delta Bishops Forum, last year, visited the Executive Secretary of Abuja National Mosque Management Board, Alhaji Ibrahim Jega for the purpose of promoting peace between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.