It is known as ‘Mercedes Church or Uka Achi’ in Abagana, Anambra State.
The church, which was founded by the late Jeremiah Achi, who passed on two years ago, had the culture of swapping spouses for the church members in the name of getting them hooked to their God-given partner and wrapping it up with a Mercedes Benz car.
Investigations carried out by New Telegraph revealed that the criteria for getting a brand new Mercedes Benz car is when a male member of the church is picked for the husband swap.
Though the swap is neither compulsory nor forced on members, it is said that it comes in form of vision by the general overseer, who died two years ago. Through a vision, a dedicated male member of the church may be seen not to be marrying his God-given wife, hence, another wife is picked for the man from the church to marry as the real life partner whether both are married with children or not.
The practice, it was gathered, had been going on for years with men leaving their already established homes to remarry other women with children. But the spicy meal laced with a Mercedes Benz car gift became sour when a man in the church was asked to leave his wife, who a vision revealed was not his nature-ordained wife, to marry another woman with four children while the woman’s husband was swapped to marry the man’s wife.
The said man got to his new home only to face rejection from the grown up children of the woman who were already in secondary school. On arrival, he got a very numb reception and in the following weeks, the children refused to either greet him or call him daddy, despite their mother’s explanations and admonitions; even neighbours began to ask the children about their father’s whereabouts and who the man they see with their mother was.
After a while of enduring the pain of rejection and with all the new wife’s vain effort to get them to accept the man as their father, the man got fed up and decided it was time to leave and return to his family. He left the new family and returned to his home and told the man living with his wife to leave his home, but the man refused.
So, he was forced to go back to his pastor, who pacified him and told him that he will resolve the matter.
But the man, who was apparently livid, already had his mind made up on returning back to his home and stormed out of the church in anger. That was the way the man left the church and chased away the man living in his home to return to his own wife.
Not long after the scenario, the general overseer of the church passed away. After his demise and burial, the church continued with its doctrine for a while before shifting base to another location close to the old one led by one of the assistant pastors.
According to a choir member of the church, who at first meeting didn’t want to talk to New Telegraph, the story of Mercedes and wife swap were all lies.
She said that the late general overseer was only doing certain things to help the members. She alluded to the fact that the help included the gift of a car and a wife. “The car is given to help the couple start their life,” she said.
She denied that the church does wife swap, but sometimes “The late general overseer may see someone in a vision and tell the person that the woman he is married to is not his God-ordained wife. “I don’t think there is anything wrong with obeying an instruction from a man of God because God speaks through him,” she said.
After several weeks of tracking the new pastor for an interview failed, the reporter took to adorning a head to toe white regalia in order to enter the church and that way, the pastor, Mr. Emmanuel Ikealor, who severally said he does not speak to journalists, opened up and simply said: “Yes, our daddy used to give a Mercedes Benz car to members of the church who are poor and when he sees in a vision that you are not married to your heaven ordained life partner, he will unite you with your true partner and do the same with the person swapped. Those that did it then have no regrets till today.
“I don’t know why people derive joy in saying what they know nothing about. These things are very spiritual. Even though, I was not married then, it was daddy that picked my wife for me and I am at peace with her.
“A spiritual man sees beyond the physical. That is what people do not understand.” On how the money for the car gifts was sourced, he said: “I cannot answer that.” It was, however, observed that the church which has white as its uniform for services, holds service three times a week while Sunday services last from 8a.m. to 5p.m.
It was also observed that most members who have cars drive Mercedes Benz. According to an elderly man, Chief Kanayo Nwafor, whose house is close to the church, the “Uka Achi/Mercedes church” has been in existence in Abagana for as long as over six years, but was not popular until the man who founded the church started giving out cars. Nwafor said that the man, before he died, used to be a native doctor for a long time before he claimed he had become a born again and opened a church.
“People then started calling it uka Mercedes (Mercedes church) because they gave out Mercedes cars to the people they swap for marriage. “I don’t have the right to judge anybody.
Only God has the right. But I wonder how somebody will ask me to leave the wife I have married to go and marry someone else’s wife even if she already has grown up children.
It’s absurd.” Investigations showed that the husband/wife swap is still being practised in the new church in line with the principles of the late founder and for the pastor; there is nothing wrong with it.