By Austin Ogwuda, Enugu
AVAILABLE statistics showed that the Assemblies of God Church has a population of over 2.6 million members worshipping in over 14,300 churches spread in Nigeria with its headquarters in Enugu, Enugu State. It has planted more than 50 missionaries in nine countries across the world with over 11,650 ministers.
However, the once peaceful members of one-fold family had been torn apart following a leadership tussle that is presently bedevilling the church. Crisis of factionalisation of the church had been lingering as two senior Reverend gentlemen, Professor Paul Emeka and Dr Chidi Okoroafor have been at loggerheads, each laying claim to be the overall leader of the church, qualified to bear the designation General Superintendent, GS.
The issue which resulted in litigation is currently at the last bus stop – the Supreme Court, awaiting the final arbitration. Whilst the much-expected judgement is being awaited, members of the 27 Mount Street Parish in Enugu engaged in free-for-all recently. The shameful act still centered on the crisis over who takes control of the parish which is believed to be lucrative.
Control ofthe parish
The drama started when Reverend Nathaniel Udeze stormed the Mount Street parish with letters of posting and other court documents empowering him to be installed as the new pastor of the parish that morning.
But he was stoutly resisted along with his team of loyalists by the current Resident pastor of the parish, Reverend Amaechi Agbo who, along with his loyalists, accused Udeze of being an “intruder”. The disagreement led to a free for all when Udeze insisted on taking over since he had been officially posted there by the leadership of the church under Rev Paul Emeka.
He went on to inform the bewildered congregation that their resident minister, Agbo, had been transferred to another Parish since May 2015. Earlier, supporters of both warring pastors were found sharing different versions of the Sunday school manual during the school which angered the supporters of the divide until the two pastors began a shouting match that eventually led to the free for all.
The fracas attracted the attention of the police who raced to the place and the church was locked up. That was not the first time members of the congregation would engage in such a show of shame. Sometime last year, precisely December 3, 2014, hell was also let loose at the national headquarters of the church located in Enugu when the two warring factions engaged in a bloody clash that left no fewer than five persons seriously injured, while four cars parked at the premises were burnt beyond recognition during the free for all that ensued.
Vanguard Metro, VM, gathered that the clash followed the invasion of the church headquarters by the Reverend Chidi Okoroafor-led faction in a bid to forcefully take over the national secretariat of the church which had been under the control of the embattled General Superintendent, Reverend Paul Emeka and his loyalists.
Violence broke out that fateful Wednesday morning, December 3, 2014, when members of the Okoroafor faction stormed the national secretariat in several buses and attempted to gain entry into the national secretariat but were prevented by Reverend Emeka’s loyalists.
How we prevented bloodshed at the parish — PPRO
ENUGU police command told VM surveillance has been mounted within the vicinity of the parish until normalcy would be fully restored which is still under lock and key as at the time of this report.
Speaking to our reporter, the State Police Command’s image maker, Mr. Ebere Amaraizu, said: “Please let me correct one impression. We (Police) did not lock up any church. Ours is to ensure that there is no breakdown of law and order. What happened was that we intervened and averted what could have resulted to bloodshed.”
“If not for our timely intervention that Sunday,” he went on, “it could have been a different story. When efforts were made to bring the two factions to amicable settlement, which was not forthcoming, we gave our advice, so they locked it up and the keys are with them not with us (Police). But for now, we are monitoring the place to ensure that no unpleasant thing occurred there”.
The CAC angle:
ANOTHER angle has been added to the crisis as the Nigerian Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, had in a letter dated June 22, 2015 conveyed the withdrawal of the name of Reverend Paul Emeka from the Certificate of Incorporation earlier issued pending the final determination of the case currently pending before the Supreme Court.