Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Leaders of the Assemblies of God Nigeria have resolved to put the leadership crisis that rocked the mission behind them and work towards peace and reconciliation by extending the olive branch to all the ministers of the Church previously expelled over certain acts of rebellion.
However, the leadership of the church stressed that it has intensified efforts towards recovering property belonging to the church which were still in possession of them, even after the February Supreme Court verdict mandating them to do so.
Rising from a well-attended meeting of leaders of Administrative Units of Assembles of God, South-South Zone 5, in Benin-City, the Edo State capital, they stressed that the leadership feud that rocked the Assemblies of God Nigeria have since been laid to rest with the Supreme Court judgment affirming Rev (Dr) Chidi Okoroafor as the General Superintendent (GS) of the Church, urging security agencies, institutions and law abiding individuals to help in that direction.
The leaders asserted that Rev Okoroafor as the substantive GS of Assemblies of God Nigeria has elected to welcome back the dissenting ministers and their supporters in the church across the country â€œwith open arms in the true Christian spirit of brotherhoodâ€.
Addressing newsmen at the end of the meeting, Rev. (Prof) Robert Ebuade, who is an executive committee member representing South-South Zone 5 of the Church, however noted that that the dissenting ministers must respect the judgment of the countryâ€™s apex court and stop all acts of insubordination and deception of unsuspecting members of the public.
He said the decision to make a public clarification on the issue was necessitated by reports that dismissed and excommunicated ministers had allegedly been parading themselves as still holding positions in various capacities in the church, warning individuals and institutions to be wary of this development.
He recalled the circumstances leading to the March 6, 2014 removal of Rev Paul Emeka as the churchâ€™s General Superintendent and subsequent election of Okoroafor as GS, the resultant legal tussle including the unsuccessful challenge at the Supreme Court by Rev Emeka and others following the affirmation of his removal and dismissal for rebellion by the Court of Appeal, saying those affected should comply with the apex court order and subject themselves to the authority of the Church the authentic leadership of Rev Okoroafor.
The 14-paragraph text was signed by Prof Ebuade, Rev Paul T. Ekeasi (District Superintendent Edo District), RevÂ FridayÂ O. Odiamehi (DS, Esan District), Rev E.A. Ijeoma (Edo East District) as well as Rev Albert Okakah (General Council Men Director), Rev E.F. Ilebodiaye (DS, Esan East District), Rev Robert Johnson (Area Suervisor, Owan Area) and Mr Lawrence Erewele, the zonal legal adviser of the Assemblies of God.
Specifically, Ebuade said, â€œThe Supreme Court decision has widely been reported as Emeka versus Okoroafor and Others in (2017) 11 Nigeria Weekly Law Reports Parts 1577.
â€œAfter the Supreme Court decision, the leadership of the Church extended the olive branch to the pastors and members that were misled by Rev Paul Emeka to return to the church as the sole aim of the church were to win souls for Christ.â€
Rather than comply duly with the apex court decision and ensure the return of the organizationâ€™s property still in their possession, the dismissed persons led by Emeka have allegedly persisted in their recalcitrance and deception.
By the decision of the highest court in the land in February this year, â€œRev Paul Emeka and the other pastors were supposed to hand over the property of the church to the church, but in a bid to mislead members and the public and front that the Supreme Court did not decide the issues, Rev Paul Emeka instituted the same case that the Supreme Court earlier dismissed before the Enugu State High Court in Suit No E/97/2017. The High Court been served with the decision of the Supreme Court again struck out the said suit No E/97/2017 on the 20th day of September, 2017.â€
He however revealed that the process of recovering all property in possession of the erring ministers and other related matters has commenced in earnest throughout the church branches and administrative units nationwide.
â€œThe National Secretariat in Enugu State has been fully recovered, renovated and has become fully functional, for administrative activitiesâ€ Rev Ebuade disclosed, noting that public and private institutions like government offices and banks have been cooperating with the church authorities to halt the illegal activities of the dissident ministers.
â€œSome pastors that were initially misled, for example Rev Nathan Udeze and a host of other apologized to the church, and the church have accepted them back. Others are Akwa Ibom, Enugu and Kaduna states have also returned to the church, returning the property of the church as well.â€
The zonal leadership, therefore, charged others including reverends Joel Okogele,Â SundayÂ Oyaletor, Ayo Imumorin, Victor Igbinoba, Best Akhatuemen, Fola Folurunsho, Albert Okodugha, Stephen Okojie and Michael Eromonsele to follow the example of the aforementioned by returning the Church’s property.