Mrs Felicia Eze, an officer with the Nigeria Immigration Service, believed that her husband, Mr Basil Eze, was responsible for her sickness. A prophet told her so. The couple were living happily until Felicia started experiencing a severe back pain, which got worse each day. At a point the woman was finding it very difficult to stand, or even to sit down. At that point, she was still in good terms with her husband, who was so concerned about his wife’s medical condition and decided to take her to the hospital for medical treatment. After tests were carried out at the hospital, the consultant who attended to Felicia recommended that she undergo an urgent surgical intervention to correct the problem. From the findings made by the hospital, it was discovered that Felicia could lose the use of her limbs if the problem was left to linger.
The couple agreed to proceed with the treatment and Felicia was booked for surgery. But, shortly after that, the story took a totally different turn. Although she and her family worshipped at a mainstream Pentecostal church, Felicia also ‘consulted’ a prophet, who had a small ‘prayer ministry’. The prophet, a ‘prayer warrior’, is believed to commune directly with God, according to members of his ministry. Before going for the surgery, Felicia decided to consult the prophet. After extensive prayers, the ‘man of God’ dropped a bombshell. He informed the woman that her husband, Eze, was responsible for her ailment. According to the revelation, which he relayed to Felicia, her husband intended to kill her, take over her ‘wealth’, and then marry another wife. The prophet also warned that Felicia would die if she went ahead with the surgery. He advised the woman that her condition was a ‘spiritual problem’ that could only be cured through payers. Felicia believed him, and all of a sudden, the peace hitherto enjoyed by the family vanished as the woman turned against her husband, accusing him of wanting her dead. She also backed out of the already scheduled surgery.
For several months Felicia kept going to the prophet for prayers, even as her health, and her relationship with her husband and her children, continued to deteriorate. Eventually, her children ‘dragged’ her to the hospital, and the surgery was performed. It was successful, and Felicia did not die. Rather, she recovered.
Interestingly, the first person Felicia asked for after the surgery was her husband, Eze, who she had not spoken to in months. Eze and the children were waiting in the hospital ward when she was wheeled in from the theatre. The Ezes became a happy family once again as Felicia recovered from the ailment.
A consultant neurosurgeon at Memfys Hospital of Neurosurgery, Enugu, Dr Chika Ndubuisi, who is aware of the case, explained that Felicia could have become paralysed if she had continued to delay the surgery.
“The woman delayed treatment for seven months and would have become paralysed,” he told our correspondent in a telephone interview.
Felicia was lucky. Juliet Ugonna and Ejiro Felix were also among the lucky ones.
When Ugonna suddenly slumped and became unconscious just after getting home from work one afternoon, her relatives suspected a case of ‘spiritual attack’. The lady was not rushed to the hospital immediately – people around when the incident occurred, including her mother, some other relatives and neighbours, embarked on prayers. After a while, she was taken to a nearby hospital on their street in Aba, Abia State. However, after regaining consciousness in the hospital, Ugonna kept complaining of a very severe headache which came and went at intervals. When she was not experiencing the headache, Ugonna would seem fine and in good health and her relatives would ask the doctors to discharge her so that they all could go home. But then the pain would return, accompanied by loud cries of agony from the patient. Confused and exasperated, Ugonna’s mother started consulting different prophets and prayer warriors. But the revelations revealed by the prophets further compounded the confusion. All the prophets came up with different reasons as the cause of Ugonna’s ‘strange’ ailment – some said she stepped on ‘juju’, or poison, at her work place, some said she was under spiritual attack by some people who were engaged in a land dispute with her parents, others said the sickness was the doing of a ‘spiritual husband’, who was angry that a young man was coming to ask for Ugonna’s hand in marriage. Yet another prophet said the ailment was a manifestation of a ‘curse’ in her family. While the prophets differed in their ‘revelations’, they agreed on one fact – Ugonna’s condition was spiritual and could only be handled with prayers.
Fortunately for Ugonna, even as her family was seeking a spiritual solution, they did not neglect medical intervention. Having been taken to a bigger hospital, she was attended to by a medical specialist who recommended an MRI scan on the brain. When the result came out, it was discovered that Ugonna was suffering from a case of subarachnoid haemorrhage – bleeding in the brain caused by rupture of a vein in the skull. The situation required an urgent brain surgery, and since it was already about three days since the incident occurred, time was running out. Luckily for Ugonna, her surgery at a neurosurgical hospital was successful.
“I thank God that I was taken to hospital even as prayers were being said for me,” Ugonna observed, while narrating her experience in a telephone chat with our correspondent.
In Felix’s case, doctors had recommended a surgical intervention after he was diagnosed with brain tumour. “But the man of God warned that if the patient underwent surgery, he would die. So the mother, a Phd holder in education and also a lecturer, rather than heed the advice of doctors, insisted on following the instructions of the man of God. Eventually, a relative, who is a medical doctor, convinced them that the surgery must be done, so they came back. But on the night of the surgery, the man of God sent another message to the woman that if the surgery took place her son would die, and the woman again refused to proceed with the surgery. But after some time, the patient, reluctantly, agreed to have the surgery and it was successful – he recovered,” Ndubuisi, a neurosurgeon, disclosed.
Some others are not lucky as the ‘intervention’ of prayer warriors led to probably ‘avoidable’ deaths.
Sunday James, a businessman, shook his head and wiped tears from his eyes as he narrated the circumstances that surrounded the death of his wife. Sandra, James’ wife, was pregnant with twins, and long before her due date, the gynaecologist at the hospital where she was going for antenatal care recommended that the birth should be by Caesarian Section, due to certain complications. James rallied to get the fees for the CS ready on time, even before the time the operation was scheduled. But Sandra’s mother informed a prophetess about the development, and asked for special prayers for her daughter’s safe delivery. The prophetess told Sandra’s mother that it was not the will of God that the birth would be by CS. She said Sandra would put to bed naturally, like the Hebrew women in the Holy Bible. The prophetess also instructed that Sandra should be brought to her prayer house once she started feeling the signs of labour. The prophetess is a widely acclaimed seer with thousands of followers and Sandra and her mother had no doubts whatsoever concerning her revelations. But James was kept in the dark, and as he was hustling to put money and other logistics together ahead of the anticipated delivery, his wife and her mother were preparing to move down to the prayer house. Unfortunately for James, the Expected Date of Delivery fell during a scheduled business trip to China but then, he had made all the necessary arrangements, and was looking forward to returning to meet his wife and the new twins. As instructed, Sandra’s mother took her to the prophetess’ prayer house when she went into labour, even though they had informed the husband, James, that they were going to the hospital. The gynaecologist, who had been checking up on Sandra, also called to know when she would be coming to have a CS. He was informed that Sandra would come ‘soon’. But that was the last James, or any other person, heard from Sandra. She died while trying to deliver the twins, after a prolonged labour at the prayer house. The babies also died. The prophetess fled. Grief-stricken and consumed with a sense of guilt, Sandra’s mother could not muster the courage to give James the terrible news.
“I was in constant communication with my wife and her mother, who was staying with her in my house, when I was in China. The last I heard from them was when I was told she had gone into labour and that they were going to the hospital. I was tensed up but I was also expecting good news so I became agitated when I couldn’t hear from them afterwards. It was my younger brother that eventually told me what happened,” James, who said he could not get over the tragic incident, told our correspondent during an encounter in Lagos.
Also, the death of a six-year-old boy, who was diagnosed with brain tumour, could have been prevented, if his parents had not decided that the situation should be addressed spiritually, rather than with orthodox medicine.
Ndubuisi, who was also aware of the case, disclosed, “It is a case where an avoidable death could have been prevented. The child was suffering from tumour in the brain and that tumour blocked the water flow to the brain, what we call hydrocephalus. The parents are educated. After the diagnosis, they were counselled on the urgent need for a surgery to divert the water even if they were not ready for the surgery to remove the tumour at that time. There were concerns that the hydrocephalus was going to build up and kill the child.
“The parents asked for some time to go and come back. Surprisingly they went to a church and came back about six weeks later insisting we should do a brain scan for the patient. We thought maybe they came back for surgical intervention but they insisted we do a scan (to confirm the supposed healing in the church). We did the scan and the problem was still there. Normally, they (prayer warriors) will ask them to go and get a medical report to confirm the healing.
“The parents were again counselled on the need for urgent surgical intervention because the scan showed that the tumour was getting worse but instead of accepting admission, they said we should give them three more days and they went ahead to check into a hotel near the hospital. From there they were trying to contact the church. Barely 48 hours after, the patient slumped and couldn’t be revived. Before they could even move him from the hotel to the hospital, the boy had already died and the sad thing is he was the only child of the parents.”
Another tragic case involved a lady, a banker, who was diagnosed with low blood pressure. When she collapsed one day, after her condition worsened, rather than rush her to the hospital, her relatives took her to some prayer warriors. They believed that it was a case of spiritual attack and did not require medical attention in hospital. However, when she couldn’t recover in the prayer house, they decided to take her to the hospital. But by the time they got to the hospital, she was pronounced dead.
“That may have been an avoidable death,” Ndubuisi observed.