POPULAR pastorpruener Chris Oyakhilome is on the verge of divorcing his wife Anita after her solicitors served him with court papers at a London hotel when he recently visited the UK.


Pastor Oyakhilome, the founder of the Christ Embassy Church, is one of Nigeria’s most influential and wealthy pastors with a huge following. His congregation is reported to be 40,000 strong and Forbes estimated his net worth, which includes diversified interests such as newspapers, magazines, a local television station, a record label, satellite TV, hotels and extensive real estate, at $50m.


On April 9 this year, however, Mrs Oyakhilome filed for a divorce citing unreasonable behaviour and adultery as her grounds for seeking a separation. Since then, the couple have been living apart, with Anita spending a lot of time in London and her husband resident in Nigeria.


In her divorce suit, Mrs Oyakhilome outlined several allegations against the pastor which cannot be published for legal reasons. Her case, with suit number FD14D01650, was filed by Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors at Divorce Section A of Central Family Court, First Avenue House, High Holborn in central London.


Pastor Oyakhilome was served with a decree nissi in his hotel room on a recent visit to London. In divorce cases, a decree nisi is issued by the court to tell the parties that they have to wait a certain period of time before making their divorce final, to allow time for anyone who objects to the divorce to tell the court their reasons for it.


It is also possible for a decree nisi to be set aside with the mutual consent of the spouses. When the period expires, they can apply for the decree absolute, which means the divorce is completed and the partners are no longer married.


Pastor Oyakhilome and Anita have two daughters, Sharon and Charlyn, who have tried to broker peace between them but all efforts to reconcile them but seem to have failed. Pastor Oyakhimome too has been making efforts to avoid divorce in the hope that his wife would eventually have a change of mind.


According to an elder of the church, the pastor has denied allegations of adultery and believes his wife is being influenced by bad friends who are intent on destroying their home. Anita, however, maintains she has been relegated in the scheme of things in the church, adding that her husband accused her of trying to usurp power and authority above her seniors in the ministry.


Church insiders said Pastor Oyakhilome had been hoping for rapprochement but was left with no option than to receive the papers when the lawyers cornered him at his hotel in London. The decree absolute, which will effectively end the marriage, is expected to be issued soon while terms of the divorce will be worked out by the lawyers on both sides.


Anita apparently wanted to go public with the details of her allegations against the husband but reached an informal agreement to sheathe her sword in the interest of the church. On June 13 this year, some of Anita’s relatives locked up the London branch of the church to protest the humiliation being meted out to their sister.