The leadership tussle rocking the Assemblies of God Church took a dangerous dimension on Wednesday, December 3, 2014 when it degenerated into a fracas as one of the feuding parties invaded its headquarters in Enugu.
Eyewitness who preferred anonymity revealed that at about 10am, some unidentified people invaded the headquarters with weapons and burnt a vehicle belonging to a clergy from one of the branches of the church.
He said that since the present General Superintendent of the church, Rev. Dr Paul Emeka assumed office in 2011, some members of the church had been fomenting trouble.
The witness said the group had planned to attack the church headquarters at Independence Layout, Enugu.
Another version claimed that the thugs were allegedly hired by a sacked senior member of the church, to stop the church members from organizing their prayer meeting at the church secretariat and prevent members from entering the church premises.
During the attack, the thugs destroyed properties in the church premises and also allegedly made away with valuable items.
The new General Superintendent of the church, Rev. Chidi Okoroafor, while commenting from the Evangel Camp at Okpoto in Ebonyi State, condemned the attack on the church and urged the security agents to investigate the matter and bring to book any person involved in the attack.
He said, “Our general secretary, who has served the church for 24 years, Rev. John Okoni, will retire and preparatory to that retirement and as we close up the year, the leadership of Assemblies of God Church decided to organise an end of year prayer programme at our Enugu secretariat of the church. We also wrote and obtained police permission to hold the programme.
“But while preparing to go for the programme, we were surprised to hear that some thugs and strange men waylaid some of the church members who were coming for the prayer programme, tagged: Zero Hour Intervention.
“As a matter of fact, a pastor who was coming for the programme, Rev. Elisha Anyanwu, was stopped near the secretariat and they started beating him with rods and then set his vehicle ablaze. Many others were also stopped from going into the secretariat. This is very strange in Christianity. The same people who did this carried placards to Government House to tell the governor that we should be prevented from coming to pray at the secretariat.
“This is strange to Christianity because no sane person will attack people who are going to pray for any reason whatsoever. Somebody is rebeling against the leadership of the church. Every church has a constitution and if you cannot abide by that constitution and rules you can leave that church and do whatever you wish outside the church.”
Rev. Anyanwu, who was beaten by the thugs, while narrating his ordeal said God saved him from the hands of the thugs.
He said, “They accosted me in the front of the church’s secretariat and brought me down from my Toyota jeep and started beating me, using iron to hit my hands and legs after which they set my car ablaze.”
Consequently, the church headquarters is under lock with armed policemen, civil defence and customs men keeping watch over the area.
The area was cordoned-off to vehicular traffic while pedestrians were searched and questioned while the imbroglio lasted.
Late October 2014, Rev. Paul Emeka, claimed to have secured a new four year term to lead the church. He was first elected to lead the church in 2011.
But a week after, another faction of the church at a meeting on November 1, 2014, expelled him from the church for alleged breach of the constitution and peace of the church. The faction also sacked and ex-communicated Raphael Itotoh, Nicholas Anyanwu, Philips Efejunti, Roland Best, Kayode Shinkale, Bulus Goni, Baba Fada and others.
They were sacked from the church during the 35th Quadrennial General Meeting of the church held at Evangel Camp along Enugu-Abakaliki Expressway, Okpoto, Ebonyi State.
The faction elected its own leader, Rev. (Dr.) Chidi Okoroafor, the former Assistant General Superintendent as the new General Superintendent. Others elected were Rev. Pastor Ejikeme Ejim Assistant General Superintendent, Rev. Dr. Godwin Amawoh (General Secretary), Rev. Dr. Vincent Alaje as General Treasurer and Rev. Scott Ennis as Chairman of NMFF and 14 other leaders.
The two factions have laid claim to leadership of the church since then, with Emeka making claim of threat to his life, occasionally.
The internal crisis led to the attempted take-over of the church’s headquarters on Wednesday (December 3).