Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
The Assemblies of God Church, Nigeria in Enugu has dismissed as false and mischievous media reports linking its leaders to the alleged disappearance of N2.7 billion pension funds belonging to retired pastors of the church.
The Church, which is presently struggling with leadership crisis, also denied the purported invitation of some of its officers by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) on January 24, 2017.
Some newspapers (not THISDAY) had reported that the IGP invited the Church’s General Superintendent, Rev Dr. Chidi Okoroafor, Rev Vincent Alaje and Tony Ewelike, over a petition by one Mr. C. N. Idris, wherein the church leaders were accused by 2,000 pastors of embezzling the pension fund.
But in a press statement by its General Secretary, Rev. Godwin Amaowoh, the church said the publication was a design by some unnamed elements to divert attention from “the atrocities they committed while they held sway in the church.”
Amaowoh said the contents of the said petition as published in the media “are lies from the pit of hell, merely intended to distract the Church. We had wanted to ignore this report but following the insistence of some of our members that these liars should be exposed to stop them from further deceiving the innocent public, we have now deemed it fit to make these clarifications.
“May we make it bold that we do not have a pension scheme in the Assemblies of God Church as we never in the first instance employed any minister, Assemblies of God only operates what we call Assemblies of God Ministers Benefit Scheme.
“Every minister with the Assemblies of God Church is on voluntary service. Therefore, we have no such thing as pension fund; rather we operate a welfare scheme for our ministers.
“All the ministers involved signed contracts in that regard in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of the Church. We follow the provisions of that constitution strictly.
“It is also apt to make it clear to the members of the public that we do not know about 2,000 ministers. Our constitution provides that those who are under discipline are not entitled to the welfare scheme, until after certain years depending on the level of discipline.
“A minister who is dismissed is not entitled to welfare except only his own contribution to the welfare; but if the minister is suspended and he leaves the church, he will not be entitled to the welfare scheme. But if he remains in the church till after the period required for restoration, he knows the normal processes to follow
“It also needs to be stated that the body administering Assemblies of God Ministers Benefit Scheme is distinct from the General Council and is appropriately registered with the CAC,” he added.
While accusing the former leader of the church Rev. Paul Emeka of bolting away with N17m from the Assemblies of God Ministers benefit scheme account, the General Secretary explained that “the General Superintendent, Rev. Dr. Chidi Okoroafor and the General Treasurer, Rev. Dr. Vincent Alaje are not members of that body, however, as an officer of the Council, I am aware that Paul Emeka took a whopping N17m away from that account.”
“Emeka is not qualified for the welfare scheme because he took a loan of N17m from AG-HOMES and instead of paying back the loan, he wrote a letter to AG-HOMES that they should take his entitlement for the loan. His entitlement was not even up to that amount.
“When he held sway as the General Superintendent, he appointed Rev. Ejikeme Ejim, the current Assistant General Superintendent of the Church as the chairman of the welfare Board. However when Rev Ejim discovered that Rev Paul Emeka was constantly taking money without given proper account, he voluntarily resigned as the Chairman of the Board”.
He further stated that any minister in the Church who so desired to receive his package from the scheme, “should apply in accordance with the Constitution of the Church and will receive same if qualified.”
The Church also denied media reports that the Inspector General of Police invited some of its Officers on January 24.
“It was a crude and dishonest effort by Rev Paul Emeka and his gang to embarrass the church and paint it black by conniving with some Junior Police officers in an attempt to ruin the Church he claims he wants to be returned as the Leader.”
“So, we urge the general public to discountenance the said petition and media publications as they were merely meant to cover up some mess committed by these same petitioners”, he added.