Assemblies of God Church headquarters Enugu
The judgment delivered by the Supreme Court over the three year crisis rocking the Assemblies of God is not yet over
– The church secretary in Warri, Delta state, has said the judgment has opened more legal possibilities for the parties depending on their views of the judgment
– Rev. Bamaiyi Ogwuche said the judgment has actually given victory to no one, hence the Rev. Chidi Okoroafor’s faction cannot lay claim to victory
There are indications that the crisis rocking the Assemblies of God Church is yet to be resolved.
The Nigerian Supreme Court on Friday, February 24, 2017 delivered judgment against the appeal filed by the expelled General Overseer, Rev. Paul Emeka, and affirmed the decision of the Appeal Court against Rev. Emeka.
But a group is calling on celebrating members over the judgment to halt celebrations as the ruling has opened other possibilities of legal tussle between the two factions depending on the disposition of the parties involved.
In a statement made available to journalists by Rev. Ogwuche Bamaiyi, Warri District Secretary, Delta state, he said the main issues that led to the crisis that rocked the church for the past three years were not addressed by the court.
Rev. Ogwuche argued that it will be premature for a faction to rush into celebration when the issue has not been permanently laid to rest, noting that any one holding on to a claim that his faction has won is deceiving the public as both factions can lay claim to victory depending on the angle the judgment was viewed.
“The day had finally come and the Supreme Court had given her verdict on the matter. However, the crisis is apparently far from being over, at least for now and most probably, a long time to come.
“This is because instead of putting an ‘end’ to the whole unfortunate mess in the house of God, the ruling has rather opened other possibilities of a long legal battle between the two factions which must start from a lower trial court and may or may not get back to the Supreme Court depending on the dispositions of the parties involved.
“I have keenly followed the event leading to this ruling of the Supreme Court and the reactions that are unfolding. The media platforms, social, electronic and print have been awash with the reactions and counter reactions of the two factions involved.
“But the development is very worrisome. This is because I see an aggressive media crusade aimed at misleading the public and based on a distortion of the facts of the ruling just to claim victory.
“While we wait for the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the ruling, it is imperative to put the records straight and clear the distorted information on rampage aimed at taking advantage of the gullible and uninformed.”
He stated that the implication of the Supreme Court ruling declaring all other pronouncement of the court of appeal ‘obiter’ is that what the Appeal Court gave to the Rev Chidi Okoroafor’s camp from behind is what the Supreme Court has taken back.
He said if the Supreme Court had affirmed the lower court’s position of suspension and dismissal, then the Rev. Paul Emeka’s faction could be said to have lost. But, according to him, the Supreme Court said NO! It was a non-judgment and has no effect in law.
Assemblies of God crisis: Group clarifies Supreme Court judgment
“Therefore, this blind claim to victory by the Rev Chidi Okoroafor-led faction leaves us with only one interpretation, their intention to breach the peace of the peace-loving members of Assemblies of God, Nigeria, who have refused to buy into their baggage of lies and intimidation. This antics of coercion is already obvious and every member and lover of truth must be on guard.
“The Supreme Court ruling gave Rev Chidi a win of more time to lead the breakaway faction loyal to him. But he definitely lost the legitimacy of being called the General Superintendent of Assemblies of God, Nigeria.
“For the Rev Prof. Paul Emeka, the apex court, by pronouncing as obiter his purported suspension and dismissal has given him legitimacy as the General Superintendent of Assemblies of God, Nigeria. This is his win.
“His loss is actually the elongation of the journey to his coveted peace, reconciliation and unity of the church. He has to wait and work some more.”
Rev. Ogwuche noted that the ruling leaves the entire Assemblies of God, Nigeria with two options.
“The first is to begin a fresh legal battle that only God knows when it will end and how many more lives and destinies it will consume, plus plenty of resources too to forfeit.
“The second is for everyone to come to the table to discuss with a no victor, no vanquished disposition. The choice is ours.”
Paul Emeka was said to have violated church rules which led to his suspension by the church council.
The church crisis started when the General Council suspended Rev. Emeka on March 6, 2014.
The council held that Emeka violated several sections of the church’s constitution and bye laws, particularly, Article 12, which deals with taking or using any other person to initiate proceedings against the church in court for any reason.
It said Emeka failed to exhaust the church’s internal mechanism for dispute resolution as stipulated in its rules.
The church’s council’s letter conveying Emeka’s suspension was signed by John Ikoni (General Secretary); Chidi Okoroafor (Acting General Superintendent) and Vincent Alaje (General Treasurer).
The church also accused the former General Superintendent of being autocratic, being involved in financial mismanagement, engaging in abuse of power and “above all took the church to court, an act that tantamount to tarnishing the image of the church and bringing it to public ridicule.”