A man’s death from flames ignited by candles and perfumes during a prayer session has prompted a warning from one of Nigeria’s biggest churches.
The Celestial Church of Christ, whose members wear white one-piece garments and attend services barefoot, is popular in western Nigeria but has branches across the country, and abroad.
Kayode Badru had been praying with lit candles during a privately organised session for him at the church in Lagos last Monday when the incident happened.
Church elders had been praying for Mr Badru and it is thought that the priest leading the session then sprayed some perfume on him, which was ignited by a nearby candle.
The flames quickly engulfed Mr Badru who had been wearing the white garment of the church, which is usually made from flammable fabrics such as cotton or silk.
He died in hospital on Thursday from the burns he sustained.
Imolemitan Ojo, a senior pastor of the church, told BBC Pidgin that the priest who led the prayer session and some other elders who were present had been arrested by the police.
Prayers in the church are usually conducted with lit candles and perfumes, symbolising light and good aura.
Members usually source their own perfume which they take to services but it can also be bought within churches.
The perfumes are not intended to be sprayed excessively and members are advised to dilute them with water. It is not known if this was done with Mr Badru.
A statement released by the church reminded members that “spiritual perfumes intended to be sprayed, sprinkled, or poured with a lighted candle should be diluted with water”.
“The spraying or pouring of undiluted Spiritual Perfumes in its volatile state with a lighted candle is an imported culture not originally part of the tenets of the Celestial Church of Christ,” the statement said.
Mr Badru, a rich Nigerian living in Dubai, had reportedly visited the church, where he is a member, for a thanksgiving ceremony.
One report said he was in Nigeria for the graduation ceremony of 40 people he sponsored to attend an art and technology academy.
Founded in 1947 by Rev Samuel Biléhou Oshoffa in Porto-Novo, Benin, the Celestial Church of Christ says it now has branches all over the world.
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