Until last Sunday when Reverend Chris Okotie, the debonair overseer of the Household of God Church, Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos got separated from Stephenie Henshaw, a widow, there had been speculations about whether or not he would consider remarrying.
This is on account of his divorce from Tina, his wife of over 17 years about five years ago and refusal to marry any woman who did not meet certain conditions and criteria he purportedly laid down. Nonetheless, that never stopped smitten women from trying to win his heart. So much that several of these single, divorced or widowed women in his church embarked on a battle royale to conquer his heart.
Even women who were not his church members were hot contenders for the rich and suave pastor’s heart. This position stirred endless speculations in the media as the Pastor was regularly reported to be considering marrying whoever became the superstar at each point in his life.
Among the women rumoured to have enjoyed more than a church member or filial relationship with Pastor Okotie was ex-Miss Nigeria, Vien Tetsola. So close were they that he was instrumental to the purchase of a Volkswagen Bug Tetsola was driving as well as her upkeep and other sundry bills.
The rumour mill went agog with tales of an impending marriage between them when he played a prominent role during Vien’s 30th birthday party held at the Sheraton Hotel, Lagos, a few years back. He even cut the cake with her. Soon after, talks about her making a wedding gown made the rounds with Vien confirming in an interview she granted a newspaper that indeed, she would be getting married soon. All of that talk soon faded when nothing of the sort materialized. The pastor moved on.
Next in line was Pastor Elishanmah Ideh, who became prominent in his life during the 2007 presidential campaign. Not only was Pastor Elishanmah a frequent visitor to both the church and Okotie’s home, she also played prominent roles during his second failed bid for the presidency. Of course, all of her visibility in his life soon triggered the tales of his plans to marry her. Even friends of Pastor Elishanmah were alleged to have been instrumental in generating rumours of the marriage plans of both Pastors. But, nothing of the sort took place.
Just when many of his flock were getting tired of the endless rumours, both in the church and in the media, the 50-year-old Pastor said he hadn’t been ignorant of all the talks about his single status despite teaching about the marriage institution. He said further that he was not unaware of the various speculations trailing whether he would marry and to whom and when.
So, to set the record straight, he formally confirmed to his congregation around July 2008 that he would be getting married soon. Not because it was compulsory, but more because of his desire to have children. He equally revealed the kind of woman he had always fancied as a quintessential wife: one who would simply be by his side and would let him take care of her. Simply put, a submissive woman to the letter.
We gathered that it didn’t take some of his ‘vigilant’ church members long to decode the identity of the woman he was talking about. It was Stephanie, the light-skinned widow of Pastor Okotie’s Friend, who had been his responsibility since her second marriage crashed several years ago. Though the relationship generated so much heat when Stephanie’s aggrieved husband fingered Okotie’s undue interference for the crash of their marriage, he was like a dog fated for disappearance.
To underscore his seriousness, Okotie rented a well-appointed apartment with round-the-clock security for Stephanie at Marwa Gardens, a suburban settlement in Ikeja, Lagos. That was not all. In those days, she was chauffeured round with a security escort in the pastor’s cars; a black Mercedes Benz Jeep and a black S Class Mercedes Benz. Added to this is that the pastor took care of all her needs like clothes, shoes, bags and jewelry. So much that on Opebi Street, in Ikeja axis of Lagos, where she shops for household goods, she was openly addressed as Pastor Okotie’s Girlfriend or Mistress.
And just when the talk about their parting of ways was beginning to gain ground, with the story that he had settled her with a huge sum of money to move on with her life, not a few were shocked to see her being chauffeured in a brand new C Class Mercedes Benz car belonging to Pastor Okotie. Before close watchers could recover from this, the University of Benin Law graduate married Stephanie in a high-octane wedding.
Just when the new couple was settling to a new life, a certain Remi Odutola emerged from the blues alleging that she has a 9-year-old girl for the man of God. While her assertions beggar belief, the tall and delicately slim lady averred that she’s Reverend Chris’ secret wife. Hear her, “My name is Aderemi Odutola, a granddaughter of Ogbeni Oja of Ijebu-Ode.
I met Reverend Christopher Okotie in 1997. I was a young Pastor desperately looking for a good church where I could worship and God led me to the Household Of God. Then, I had a music ministry, and because he was an ace musician, I took him as my mentor and strongly believed that he would help me one day. Along the line, something happened. We started seeing each other and I’ve done abortion for him three times before I decided to leave the last one”.
Why did she leave the last pregnancy and why is she coming out nine years after? ‘I left the pregnancy not for anything, but for the fact that he proposed to marry me’, she said, as tears welled up in her eyes. “Initially, I didn’t accept his proposal because of his wife, Tina. I couldn’t have married a married man. But he told me that his marriage to Tina was on the brink of collapse. He lied to me! Trouble, however, started immediately I got pregnant. He started behaving funny, unlike the amiable Pastor I met sometime back. At times, I would call him, but he wouldn’t pick or return my calls,” she said with a soft chuckle that betrayed a mien of good breeding and humility.
Her expression soon dissolved into a sad look when she recalled the moment she gave birth. ‘It dawned on me when I gave birth to our daughter that he was just a player. Ever since I gave birth to Tioluwani Okotie (our daughter), Reverend Chris has abandoned us in my family house in Opebi. It has not been easy at all taking care of our daughter all alone,” she said and opened a whirlpool of tears.
Does he send money for the child’s up-keep? “Money”? Remi said questioningly. She said further, “
Whenever I call him that his daughter needs something, he will be dribbling me, giving me one excuse or the other. I was highly disappointed when I heard he eventually married Stephanie Henshaw, his late friend’s wife.
He did not marry me with all the things I have been through because of him.” We visited the church and some church members who do not want their names to be mentioned, confirmed that they have seen the little girl who shares a striking resemblance with the Pastor. We further gathered that even at the children’s church, people always gather to look at the girl and unconsciously wonder aloud if she is for Reverend Chris or not.
We tried to confirm this story from this abundantly brilliant man of God to confirm the veracity of the story, but all efforts to reach him proved abortive.