The name Bishop Stephanus Lucky Enofe was only known to members of Spirit and Grace Ministry, in Idi-Oro, Mushin area of Lagos, until recently when he was arrested for allegedly defiling a 15-year-old girl and putting her in the family’s way.
He was alleged to have been sleeping with the Senior Secondary School 2 student, who is a member of his congregation since she was 12.
Enofe, 46, and a father of four, was alleged to have impregnated the girl during the lockdown necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic but rushed to pay her dowry in Abia State, on August 26, 2020, when the lockdown was eased, in order to cover the act.
Report said that a supposed elaborate wedding between him and his teenage wife was billed to hold last Saturday, September 12, 2020, in Lagos, with invitation cards sent out. But it never did as he spent the day in police custody at the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, SCIID, Yaba.
However, in this interview with the 2009 graduate of International Relations from the Lagos State University, LASU, Ojo, he described as false, news making the round that he impregnated the girl.
He gave reason for his choice of the teenager as wife, to the failed marriage between him and his first wife(names withheld).
According to him: “My first wife left me three years ago because she said she did not believe in the doctrine of the church, especially the Holy Communion, feet washing and anointing oil. I knelt before her, cried and begged her to come back home but she refused.”
“My family members and the church’s board begged her to come back, she refused. We even begged her parents to help pacify her to return to her home, yet she didn’t.”
“She said the only condition she would return home would be to drop the church’s doctrines and follow hers. At a point, she switched off her phone and couldn’t be reached till date.”
“I married her from Assemblies of God Church and she believed in the doctrines of our church until she started attending another church where she was brainwashed to believe that the practices of Spirit of Grace Ministry were not good.”
“It was through peer pressure and influences that she joined some latter day churches where some false prophets gave her false prophecies that someone wanted to kill and take her place in the church.”
After much conviction to get married to another wife based on some biblical standard he quoted, he said he prayed until he was convinced that one of the choristers in his ministry was qualified to fill the vacuum left by his first wife.
Explaining how he went about it, he said, “a man of God said to be a Bishop ought to have a wife and the process must be legal. I had to look inward for someone who knows the church’s doctrine to take as a partner.”
“I approached Miss Confidence last year, who said she was 18 years. She told me she was not interested and I asked her to go and pray over it.”
“In the month of February, 2020, she came back to me and said she had conviction from God to go ahead with my proposal.”
“I said we had to take it step by step since she was still in school, because I love education and the position she would assume as a Bishop’s wife needs an educated person that would lead people.”
“I also believe in the education of a woman to the highest level because if a woman is educated, it will not only reflect in the children but the society at large.”
“When she accepted my proposal, I decided to make it formal by approaching her father to inform him about my intention, because if I was not fast enough, another person might approach her, seeing she is a very beautiful l girl.”
“Besides her beauty, she met the standard of a godly woman fit to be my wife. She is qualified morally and character wise.”
We went to her village in Abia State on August 26, 2020, for the introduction at her father’s insistence, where an elaborate party was held.
“We planned to have a thanksgiving party on September 12, 2020, in Lagos, to appreciate God for the journey mercy to the village.”
“It was the invitation of the party that was posted on social media that people saw and concluded it was wedding invitation. That was how I landed in Police custody.”
“For clarification purpose, we never had a wedding. I was ready to wait for her until she finished her education”, he insisted.
He also denied having sexual intercourse with the teenager, let alone impregnating her. He said: “We believe in spiritual sanctity and the word concerning marriage and sex.
“The introduction was not an opportunity for fun play or sex. Even when we went to the village, everyone slept together in the same place.”
“Besides, why have sex when she is going to stay with me for the rest of her life? She was still staying with her parents after the introduction and never lived with me as reported”, stated the Edo State born Bishop.
Surprising, father of the teenager, Mr Ukandu Joseph, who was sighted with the Bishop at the SCIID, said he was never arrested as reported. Rather he said he decided to share in his son-in-law’s moment of challenge.
Joseph, a trader at Idumota market debunked claims that his daughter is 15 years. He stated categorically that she is 19. When asked where she was born, he said she was born at home.
He affirmed his consent to the marriage proposal to his daughter by the Bishop, but insisted that his daughter would conclude her education before he would allow her to move in with the Bishop.
According to 40-year-old Joseph, “Confidence is my first child. She was born on January 7, 2001, in Mushin, Lagos State.”
“My daughter brought Bishop as a suitor and after several discussions, I told him I would want my daughter to complete her education before marriage and he said he won’t interrupt her education, since he would benefit more from her literacy because he needed someone who is educated to help him in the ministry.”
“I called my daughter and explained to her that the reason I wanted her to complete her education was because I am not educated and that I wanted all my children to go to school.”
“She told me that she brought the man because Idi-Oro is a ghetto and that she wouldn’t want to misbehave and bring shame to the family.”
“There was never a time I kicked against the marriage proposal. All I insisted on, was that he should allow her to conclude her education first.”
“I also read that I was arrested alongside Bishop. I was never arrested neither was my wife. We decided to stay here (in police custody) with the Bishop because the reason for his detention concerns our daughter.”
“We are ready to stay with him as long as he is detained. We won’t leave him alone, we will face the challenge together.”
The teenager’s mother, Mrs Esther Ukandu, 35, corroborated her husband’s position on the issue.
The woman who attends the Bishop’s church with her daughter, said she was part of the reconciliation party that begged the Bishop’s first wife to return to her matrimonial home.
Wondering why the Bishop’s marriage proposal to her daughter generated a debate in the public domain, she said, “all I know is that the Bishop is a Pastor over us and he said he is interested in my daughter and my husband has agreed to it.”
“I know the Bishop was once married and the wife left when Bishop travelled to Israel. Everybody had gone to beg her and she refused to come back.”
“My daughter will marry the Bishop irrespective of the present challenges because she told me that she’s convinced about her decision and that marrying the Bishop is the best choice for her.”
When asked when the wedding was likely to take place, she responded, “If they decide to do the wedding after my daughter concludes her secondary education, we won’t object to it, as far as she can continue her tertiary education while she is with her husband.”
Meanwhile, the girl at the centre of the controversy has been taken to a government’s home at Alapere, while Bishop Enofe, as gathered would soon be charged to court.
@ Vanguard Newspaper