This is not the best of times for the Dr. Daniel Olukoya led Mountain of Fire and Miracle Church as their multi-million naira 5,000 regional headquarters’ auditorium was demolished few days ago by the Governor Sullivan Chime led Enugu State Government.
In an exclusive chat with ENCOMIUM Weekly on Thursday, October 24, 2013, Dr. Olukoya’s media aide, Idowu Ajanaku, confirmed the development to us. We gathered that the structure worth N500 million was pulled down three weeks ago by officials of the Enugu State Ministry of Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA), which claimed that the church was on a waterway.
However, the church stated that there was a court injunction subsisting on the matter, and yet the government went ahead to demolish the church.
Narrating what happened, Pastor Kennedy Ude Ogaranya, who is the regional pastor of Enugu arm of MFM, stated, “Some officials from Enugu North Local Government had come to us over same issue and said we should give some distance from the waterways to our building project. This we duly observed. But when the ECTDA came again, over same matter, we told them that actually we have heard this matter from the government and that we have obliged to maintain a distance from our building project to the waterways.
“Subsequently, the commissioner himself came to the building and requested that we formally invite him and other professionals to evaluate actually whether we have maintained a distance and other things that he wanted to know. Architects, surveyors and town planners were the people who came as a team with the commissioner. This happened between July and August. In that meeting, he was talking about the proximity of our church to the waterways, that is the canal beside it. Eventually, it was very clear to him that we maintained that standard. Another thing he pointed out was the drawing of the building, but I told him that we have drawings of our building project.
“In 1998 when we started building, we got approval from them for the first building we did. When we needed to amend the structure based on increase in number, we applied to them again for approval for the remodeling of the existing structure of which they gave approval in 2002. And by 2010, when we wanted to remodel the existing structure, we applied to them again and paid the necessary fees, which they received and wrote ‘approved.’ It was at this third stage of remodeling that they came back again and the commissioner said he did not see the drawing of the present remodeling. Of course, we showed it to him, but he said it was not of standard.”
The church asserted that several other buildings on the same stretch of road where its regional headquarters was demolished, were still standing, stressing that “this leaves much to be desired, that is, the motive behind the exercise.”
Moreover, MFM stated that with the relevant documents such as Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) and approvals by the government in place, the latter has shown how callous it is, by demolishing the church illegally.
Aside tackling the Enugu Government for demolishing its structures, MFM demanded for adequate compensation, denying insinuations of having been given some monetary compensation by the government.
Pastor Ogaranya believes there was an ulterior motive for the action, asserting that the church obtained approvals for the building in 1998, 2002 and 2010 for expansion after securing a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) on the land in 1998.
He wondered why Governor Sullivan Chime visited the church in August 2012 and ordered that the structure should be vacated within four days for allegedly obstructing water channels, despite legal documents to show that the building was not illegal.
The pastor said the governor’s order was why the church went to the Enugu High Court to obtain an injunction for stay of action in September 2012 in its quest for justice.
When the court suggested that the case should be settled out-of-court, the church approached the government and it agreed to provide another portion of land for MFM.
But unfortunately, according to Ogaranya, Ngwo and Amaechi communities have been in contention over the 20 plots provided by the government for the church at Emeka Ebile Road in the state. Also, a portion of the land was already occupied by a branch of another church, which had agreed to vacate the land on September 30.
Ogaranya added: “It is very clear they were unnecessarily desperate to demolish our church. Why didn’t they give us ample time to relocate to the new site? We were given only three days to vacate before the government agents came with their caterpillars and worked on the church building from 8.00 am to 8.00 pm.”
On Saturday, October 26, 2013, we contacted the spokesperson for Enugu State government, former Senior Special Assistant to the Enugu State governor on Media Matters, Afam Okereke, who explained their own side.
“The structure was illegally built. And the place is meant for developmental purpose. It is the government for the people. We gave them notice and provided alternative ground. I don’t know anything about the court injunction because I am not a lawyer and we are not aware of the issues they were having with the new land provided for them”.
– FEMI OYEWALE