NJ Pastor-Politician’s Tragic Shooting Rocks Community

by Joshua Brown
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Nicole Teliano used to play games on her mobile phone in the Mayor’s office while her mom was busy with a few hours of difficult and sometimes angry work in government service downstairs.

Nicole, an 11-year-old girl, was unbothered by sharing her mom – who is Eunice Dwumfour from Sayreville Council – with around 50,000 people living in a nearby town. Her mother also helps take care of young people at the Prosperity Gospel Church in Newark and married a Nigerian church colleague in Abuja last November. When asked about it by Big Big News this month, Nicole said she didn’t mind because her mom was “extra,” meaning there was enough to go around.

Right now, family and friends are trying to find out who shot 30-year-old Dwumfour near her house in Sayreville on February 1st. This has caused a lot of people to talk, especially in New Jersey and West Africa, about things like politics, religion, and money that affect both places.

Nobody is saying much. The family of the deceased, Dwumfour, and her new husband Peter Ezechukwu, who wanted to come to America this spring but instead came for her funeral are confused by all the silence. The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office told them that they know their worries but have to make sure the investigation doesn’t get messed up.

At a memorial service on Feb. 8, many people came together to celebrate the life of Pastor Eunney_K who was known for always having a kind smile. Mayor Victoria Kilpatrick said that it wouldn’t be right to not recognize and honour the wonderful person that Eunice was and mentioned her stunning smiling as an example of this. Everyone in attendance was deeply saddened by her passing away, which shocked the entire community.

Dwumfour was born to parents who immigrated from Ghana. She has five siblings and she began doing Christian ministry when she was a teenager. She finished her schooling in Newark’s public schools then, after having Nicole, acquired a Women’s Studies degree from William Paterson University in 2017.

During her 2021 campaign for the city council, she described herself as working in business analysis and being an emergency volunteer. She moved to Sayreville in 2017 because she thought it was a safe place. She first got involved with the Human Relations Commission then won a tight election running on a Republican ticket along with her church friend, Christian Onuoha. These unexpected wins meant that now the council had three Republicans and three Democrats instead of just one Democrat majority.

In January, there was a lot of tension at council meetings. Dwumfour tried to change this by wishing everyone a happy and joyful new year. Unfortunately, just four weeks later, she passed away. It’s now 2023 and pressing the ‘shift’ and ‘question mark’ buttons on the keyboard will give you access to shortcuts you can use.

Right before the shooting, Dwumfour drove one of her housemates home from the grocery store. She lived in an apartment complex called “Camelot at La Mer” with her daughter and two people from her church family.

We were in the car waiting for my mom to find a parking space, but she took too long. So we kept calling her, but she didn’t answer the phone. Suddenly there was a sound like loud bangs and we realized it wasn’t fireworks like we thought at first – it was gunshots! We quickly called the police. I had made dinner for my mom, which was now ready.

People living nearby saw a man wearing dark clothes arguing with Dwumfour through her car window. Then, he shot her and ran towards the Garden State Parkway and disappeared. Her white Nissan SUV kept rolling until it hit two other parked cars on the street.

John Wisniewski, a family lawyer, says it might take some time for the investigators to look into Oghenetega Dwumfour’s cellphone information, all of the difficulties on the council and her volunteering work at Champions Royal Assembly. With his assistance, her family got in touch with investigators in March and he believes that they will investigate everything carefully. Nevertheless, people close to her are concerned that memories from this event involving a Black woman in America would be forgotten.

Karl Badu, who is the pastor of The Church of Pentecost family said, “It’s shocking for someone to go home from work and get attacked in their parking lot. We are sorrowful and heartbroken that our councilwoman was brutally killed.”

Most of Dwumfour’s spare time were spent at Champions Royal Assembly which holds meetings almost every day above a Goodwill store in Newark, New Jersey. Almost one out of three people living there were struggling with poverty.

“Mr. Dwumfour said something really important in a sermon he shared online in 2017: God rewards those people who give generously. That’s one of the main principles of prosperity gospel theology.”

Joshua Iginla is a senior pastor who founded a church in 2006 with 80,000 seats located in Abuja (Nigeria’s capital city). He often travels by private jet and he gifts away luxury items like cars, cash, generators and grain to people on his birthday. He lives partly in Johannesburg with his South African wife, and he also bought a house in Springfield New Jersey (just outside of New York City) connected to his past wife in 2017. However, there was no answer when attempting to reach the house.

Mr. Dwumfour was part of a church in the United States and he had some troubles with the landlord in 2017-2020. The income for this related church dropped from about $250,000 dollars in 2017 to only $350 dollars due to the pandemic in 2020.

At the beginning of January, someone filed a court order to make Dwumfour and Nicole move out of the apartment they were staying in. However, the managers handled it and allowed them to stay. Toward the end of the month, Dwumfour was looking for a new job. Before that, both she and Nicole stayed at another unit at Camelot listed as an address for two church-related businesses. Someone from that unit named Pastor Osi King didn’t pick up his phone when asked for comments about this situation.

Dwumfour earned $5,000 a year for her Sayreville council job. It doesn’t seem like she was paid by the church in any way. The church did pay Dwumfour’s vehicle down payment but not the monthly payments on it, according to her parents. What’s more, Nicole believes that her mother also worked as a nursing assistant though other family members couldn’t confirm it.

Onuoha, who works at Champions Royal Assembly on campus, owned the house Dwumfour stayed in when she died. He wanted her to become the owner of it soon.

At the memorial for Dwumfour, Onuoha told AP how happy he was that Dwumfour got married and seemed like she was living a great life.

Nicole wasn’t sure what to think. In the last few days, her mother was acting strange. She asked her mother why she seemed so sad and her mom replied, “It’s work. It’s tiring”. Nicole knew it was something else though.

One hour before she was killed, Dwumfour’s husband spoke to her from Abuja. He said their conversation was normal, just the usual things such as “I love you” and “How are you?”. Ezechukwu, 36 years old, mentioned that his wife was always a happy woman and even though she had problems, it could never be noticed because of how often she smiled. Her father noted how generous Dwumfour was, mentioning that once Dwumfour gave away all of the $3,000 in her bank account to someone relative in need. He named Dwumfour after his mother and gave her the middle name Konadu.

Prince Dwumfour said, “I really love her, and she loved me back. It’s going to be hard not having her around.”

On Jan 3rd, there was a meeting of the borough council where things got heated. Eventually Onuoha became the president and Prince Dwumfour was named public safety chairperson, even though he had expressed some negative views about police in his hometown of Newark. He asked everyone to work together peacefully this year.

Dwumfour said, “I’m not here for a political party or anything else. I was sent here by God and because of my conscience.” Three months after Dwumfour’s arrival in the community, her friend passed away and has left everyone in shock. The mayor then declared that she would not run for re-election and her family is worried because someone had sent a scary letter to the mayor and nobody knows who did it.

Nicole is spending more time with her grandparents since her mom passed away, and she’s cherishing the memories of the wise words that her mother once said. She also used to walk a French bulldog mix every day after school, but now she has to give it up – they had named him Excellence. Nicole is still seeing her dad as well and he didn’t answer the message from the Associated Press (AP).

Ezechukwu used to have a happy relationship with Dwumfour for four years. They would see each other at church conferences held in different places around the world. Nigerians want to know what happened between them and fear justice may never come. Ezechukwu only has memories and photos of their time together now.

“Badu, the first Black councilwoman in Sayreville, is concerned about being overlooked. She wants to make sure that Black people will not be ignored like before. To make sure this doesn’t happen we need some sort of assurance from Sayreville.” Two reporters from AP, Michael Rubinkam and Randy Herschaft, worked together to report about this. You can follow Legal Affairs Writer Maryclaire Dale on Twitter for more information on the topic.

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