The Popular Story of Jesu Oyingbo

When Jesus spoke in Matthew 24:11 about how many fake Christs and false prophets will arise and mislead people, showing signs and wonders and seducing even the elect, He was likely referring to people like the popular Jesu Oyingbo.

Jesu Oyingbo was the self-acclaimed Nigerian Jesus Christ. He was popular among the the people of Lagos in the 1950s.

That was the time Nigeria witnessed the shocking declaration of a middle aged Ijebu man named Olufunmilayo Immanuel Odumosu – who declared himself as Jesus who had come to lead the people from darkness to light.

There are many stories that tell how this man had powers and claimed that he would die and rise in 3 days like Jesus Christ.

There are also accounts that when he died, there was a lot of rain on the 3rd day but while his followers were expecting him to rise, what followed was lightning and thunder which dispersed them and Jesu Oyingbo did not rise as foretold.

How true is that story and who was Jesu Oyingbo?

Odumosu was born in 1915 to Jacob Odumosu. His grandfather was Joseph Odumosu, a famous traditional healer in Ijebu Ode.

Jesu Oyingbo trained as a carpenter (probably in parody of Jesus Christ whose father was a carpenter and who trained as one) and he served with Post and Telegraph during the war. He later took on carpentry fully and opened a shop in Lagos Island.

However, he struggled as a carpenter and was constantly in debt. He was jailed for six months on charges brought by his creditors.

During this period, Odumosu attended various protestant churches in Lagos but soon claimed he received dreams and visions from God.

According to accounts, Jesu Oyingbo went about proclaiming that he was Jesus Christ, the very one whose second coming was foretold in the new testament.

He was known to saying words that “I have come, and those who believe in me will have an everlasting life and joy. I am the missing of the trinity. I have to prepare the faithful for the judgment day”.

He soon established his church named Universal college of regeneration (UCR). This church was first located in the Oyingbo suburb of Lagos. That earned him the  “Oyingbo” in his alias. Jesu Oyingbo later moved the church to Awoyokun street in Palmgroove and later to Immanuel Street, Maryland Lagos.

It was also alleged that the books written by “Jesu Oyingbo’s grandfather on herbalist practices” were passed on to him, especially the books known as “iwe iwosan”, “iwe Egboogi”, “iwe Isoji” and “iwe Ala” – translated as books of healing, herbs, revival and dreams.  It was rumoured that these books were the sources of his powers. There is even a Yorùbà song that acknowledged his divinity claims despite not quite accepting of the claim which goes thus;

Emi o mo jesu Oyingbo
Emi o mo jesu Agege
Emi o mo jesu Maharaji
Jesu ti mo mo l’apata Ayeraye

In translation, it means

I don’t know jesus of Oyingbo
I don’t know Jesus of Agege
I don’t know Jesus of (Guru) Maharaji
The Jesus I know is the rock of ages

Some of the structures in the communal enclave and other building owned by Jesu Oyingbo had weird sculptures, which made people believe the more that he was operating a cult. His pattern of apostleship was distinctly different from the Bible records of Jesus Christ or any of his apostles.

First of all, his mode of conversion involved flogging the new convert nine strokes of the cane —a cane which many said he also inherited from his grandfather. He described the strokes being given to them as the baptism which they needed to become a part of the flock under his care.

Also, all his members were brought under the communal enclave through that baptism, after which they went back to their families, packed their belongings, forsook the world and followed him. Despite attempts by different families to hold him responsible for such actions, he always came out of the police cases clean.

These members then formed not only his congregation, but also his workforce, as he was what one might describe as a “Pastorpreneur” owning a printing outfit, a bakery, restaurant, barbing salon, a construction company, real estate development and other business outfits within his community. He acquired massive wealth in the course of operating his ministry.

It was also revealed that Jesu Oyingbo was married to over 30 women and fathers to dozen. And that members of his commune slept with one another’s wives.

There was an occasion when he married a man’s wife in order to punish him for his errant behaviours. On another occasion, he handed over the wife of an unruly member to other men in the flock. Not to mention that at his will, he could choose to call any of the women who pleased him to satisfy his needs at any time.

On a personal level, he was described by neighbours, friends and even his children as a lively, nice and humorous man who was friendly with all, and never got tired of trying to convert them. Most of his neighbours said the only issue they had was the noise caused by their activities from the early hours of the morning, even though they could not complain.

He, however, entertained them in the evenings by projecting movies for people to gather and watch, creating a sort of cinema-like experience for them. He justified his liberal and abundant life by saying that while the first Jesus came to sacrifice and suffer, taking care of the cross-carrying and crucifixion, he, the second Jesus simply came to enjoy life. “I have come to enjoy my life, my friend”, he often said.

Jesu Oyingbo’s Death

Nature finally called the supposedly immortal “Jesu Oyingbo” and he answered. He was gripped by the cold hands of death in 1988 when he was aged 73, and he died in a hospital outside the commune. Contrary to his acclaimed prophecy, Jesu Oyingbo did not rise on the third day too.

Most of his followers did not believe that their messiah had died and failed to resurrect after three days as he prophesied, leaving them disheartened.  Stories about the rain, lightning and thunder on the 3rd day of his death are unconfirmed in any reports.

With a polygamous family, Jesu Oyingbo died intestate (without a written will). This led his wives, children and members into a legal brawl  – a prolonged chaotic battle for the estate he left behind. Court papers later revealed shocking details about Jesu Oyingbo’s life and time from plaintiff testimonies and witness accounts.

However, in 1997, the court ruled in favor of the children who then evicted their father’s followers living in the enclave. That marked the end of the Nigerian self-acclaimed Jesus.

This story was sourced and compiled by accounts from: LegitNG, gistmania, Yorùbá fact and history,Old naija and Glow Ville (Facebook)