When Simon Odo, a native doctor popularly known as King of Satan, passed on in December last year in Enugu State, Nigeria’s South-east, his story went viral on the Internet.
Mr Odo is reported to have married 59 wives and had over 300 children and grandchildren, by the time he died.
PREMIUM TIMES, in a bid to get an insight into Mr Odo’s religious and family life, tracked down one of his children, Chinenye Elijah Simon, who is a pastor in the Lord’s Chosen Church, Ogidi, Anambra State.
In this Interview with PREMIUM TIMES’ Chinagorom Ugwu, Mr Simon, 40, speaks on how he was initiated and groomed to succeed King of Satan, how he fought, freed himself from his father’s grip and eventually became a pastor.
PT: Have you ever followed your dad in his religious practice?
SIMON: Yes, that was in 1996 when I was 14 years old. There was a mountain my father used to go to every year, where he usually spent 40 days. During that 1996, he went to the place with all his male children. He started calling out all the children one after the other to ask them who was willing to succeed him (as a native doctor).
As they were coming out, they were saying no, no. I think I was the last person he called out. He asked me and I said yes. In their traditional way, it was me, then, not now, that the idol chose to worship him after my father. On that mountain, my father initiated me as somebody who was going to succeed him. But as time went on, that was 1998, I left the village for Lagos to serve as an apprentice.
PT: How were you able to overcome the grip of traditional faith to become a believer of Jesus Christ and then a pastor?
SIMON: In Lagos, God arrested me on December 19, 2004. So, I was in my room, the voice came like the wind that I should go to the Lord’s Chosen (Church) … That’s how I located the church at Ijesha, Lagos.
PT: Your father’s name is Simon Odo, but you removed Odo when you introduced yourself?
SIMON: By the grace of God, my parents named me Chinenye and the one God gave me directly is Elijah. That is the one I’m bearing now. I refused to answer that Odo, because it is an idol name.
PT: At what age did you get converted to Christianity and through who?
SIMON: I was 22 years old. My former church was the Roman Catholic Church (when I was new in Lagos). While I was on my way to my house in Lagos, a pastor stopped me and started preaching to me. I pushed him away and said “Get out of my sight, you are a criminal.” I left him, not knowing that I would later become that very thing I pushed out.
PT: When you finally accepted and wanted to become a Christian, did your dad oppose it?
SIMON: It was a very heavy battle. He tried everything to eliminate me, but he could not. At the end he confessed to me that I’m his child, that he could not do anything, that he tried everything he could, but could not do anything. And he said “Go ahead and serve that your God. That your God is a true God.”
PT: How did you handle your dad’s opposition?
SIMON: The heat was so much on me. I was going about preaching the gospel, preaching about Jesus Christ, leaving my business, I left it for my younger ones. I was seriously following the Lord. That time, wherever a crusade was held, I would go. If Watchman is holding a crusade, I would go to the crusade.
If Deeper Life is holding a crusade, I would go to the crusade. I forgot everything about business. At a time, my people started mocking me that church has taken my life. They mocked me. They called me all sorts of names. They even said I carried AIDs because then fasting was my food. If you see me, I was just like a stick, while I was fasting and praying for the deliverance of my family.
PT: Did you ever try converting your dad into Christianity?
SIMON: Yes. I did. As I gave my life to Christ, my first prayer point was that my family must know Jesus. That was my first prayer point and that my father will not die in idol worshiping. As I was into it, it was in 2011 that I became a pastor.
I preached to him and at one point, he said I should leave his house because he had nothing to do with Jesus. (And) that Jesus did not give him money. That who gave him money was Satan and it’s Satan he would continue following. I told him that Jesus was the owner of his life. He became angry and asked me to leave his house. He picked up a gun and used it to chase me away, though I was stubbornly standing (there). It was people around that told me to leave and I left.
PT: How did the Church accept you?
SIMON: They were fighting me. They even said the power I was using for miracles was my father’s power.
PT: Are there any of your siblings who followed your dad in his practice?
SIMON: There are some of my siblings who were following him. But the last thing that happened was that when he was seriously sick, he was calling on me to come home, he wanted to see me. I ignored his call. My siblings called and told me that since my father asked me to come home, that I should come home to see why he was calling me. On 12 December, I went home. That Jesus he refused to accept when he was healthy, he accepted Jesus Christ at the sick point, at the zero hour. I preached to him.
He asked me to pray for him and I laid my hand on his head and prayed for him. While I was praying, he shivered. When he shivered, I got a message that the spirit in him had left him. The python spirit that was in him had left him. When I finished praying, he said he believed my prayer, and that he was well. I told him he would be okay.
I left for Anambra on December 12. Early in the morning, after my midnight prayer, he came to me. In my revelation, his spirit came to me and was telling me that the moment the spirit of God enters someone, the person will become a changed person immediately. I said yes, it’s true. I woke up and it was a dream.
December 14, a call came that he had gone. But before he died, he did not hand over (his idolatry practice) to any man. It was my brother that saw when he was sick that he could not do anything again that started going close to him. That one is called Ukonu. So, when he died, Ukonu said he wanted to take over, but it’s for a time. All those things in our family will be wiped out because my family will not remain idol worshippers. My father who worshipped the thing, has gone.
PT: What kind of person was your dad?
SIMON: Naturally, my father was a good man. He helped people, orphans. He bought and gave out cars and motorcycles. In fact, if you don’t have anything, come to him, he would give it to you. He would pack food and give it to the people.
PT: Is he going to heaven or hell?
SIMON: I will stand on my revelation that before he died, around 3 a.m. or to 4 a.m., that’s when his spirit came to me in the spirit and was telling me that the moment the spirit of God enters somebody, the person will automatically change. The moment the spirit of God enters someone, the person will change. I said yes, it’s true and I woke up and it was a dream. I will stand on that very revelation and say that my father accepted the spirit of Christ that changed his spirit before he died.
PT: Were you there at his burial?
SIMON: I was not there where they were burying him. But I was in a compound different from the one he was buried in. We have many compounds. My people were begging me to come and witness the burial but I refused.
PT: Was the burial done in line with the Christian faith?
SIMON: No, it was done in a traditional way. The one called Ukonu. They did incantations. They called a caterpillar that dug his grave because he was buried with a car. According to them, he said they should bury him in a car, not a casket.
PT: There were reports that your family members (because of their large number) are planning to form a community. If that happens, will you be involved?
SIMON: Yes, I will be involved because I told them when we were having a meeting that this family is a great family. And, even what this family could not achieve when our father was alive, we are going to achieve it and this family must be known all over the world.
PT: Was your mother the first wife?
SIMON: She was the second wife.
PT: Is she a Christian?
SIMON: She was a Christian before she married my father, but my father pushed her into the worship of marine spirit. It was in 2006 that I took my mother to Lagos where she gave her life to Jesus Christ and she asked me to go to the village and burn her shrine. I came down home in 2007 and my father was afraid that I would also burn his own. He went and reported me to our king.
PT: Did she face opposition from your dad for joining Christianity?
SIMON: A lot. My dad even summoned my mother’s people that I am the one that took his wife away, that I should bring his wife back. But my mother said she was not coming to marry him again, that she has given her life to Jesus.
She died in 2014, and was buried in 2015.
PT: Do people in your church or outside your church mistreat you for being the son of a native doctor?
SIMON: They are now proud of the Christ in me, that they can have such a person from that kind of family. They are now giving glory to God.
PT: Your dad appeared to be very wealthy, to have been able to cater for his numerous children and also he was buried in a car, instead of a casket. How did he make his money?
SIMON: Yes, he was extremely rich. His source of income was the native doctor’s work.
PT: Will you inherit some of his wealth?
SIMON: I told my people that if my father has billions or trillions in his (bank) account, I don’t care to know. If he has any property anywhere, I don’t care to know because I am not interested. I don’t live in my father’s compound, I rented a house outside (in my village). But I do go there for programmes, I do host programmes in my father’s compound every month to pray for my family there, for those that will agree to come.
PT: There could be suspicion that your dad may have been involved in ritual killings. Was he ever involved in ritual killings?
SIMON: He was not involved in ritual killings. People used to come to him to kill somebody for them, but he would tell them he does not kill. Sometimes, he would gather the people he was asked to kill and summon people that asked him to kill them and say, “Look at the people that asked me to kill you, but I don’t kill”.
PT: What were the kind of religious rites or spiritual things your dad did while he was alive?
SIMON: He killed rams. He killed fowls, even cows. He used animals for sacrifices.
PT: What calibre of people patronised him?
SIMON: Politicians do come, but I won’t mention their names. Also, these drug dealers from overseas come. He would make charms for people’s progress in business.
PT: Did you ever see pastors come to patronise him?
SIMON: Yes, pastors do come, mainly from Port Harcourt, Rivers State and other areas.
PT: How many children did your father have?
SIMON: To be sincere, I don’t know how many we are in the family.
PT: What’s your position in the family?
SIMON: I am the third son in the family.
PT: Is it true that your dad married women who were unable to pay for his services as a native doctor?
SIMON: Like some people, they would come with one sickness or the other. And after curing them, I don’t know what happened, the next thing was that my dad would go to their place and marry them. But I don’t know if it was because they could not complete their payment.
PT: Can you walk past some of your siblings and not recognise them?
SIMON: Yes, I can walk past some of my siblings without recognising them. But the ones I know before I left the village, anytime I see them, I will recognise them. The ones that were born after I left the village, I don’t know them except if I go home and begin to ask questions.