The messy leadership fight going on in Assemblies of God Church, Nigeria has taken an ugly turn as the acting general superintendent, Rev. Chidi Okoroafor and his caucus voted out the sacked General Superintendent of the church, Rev. Prof. Paul Emeka as a trustee of the Assemblies of God.
Information available to ENCOMIUM Weekly revealed that the Rev. Chidi group made the move few weeks back and removed the sacked Rev. Prof. Paul as trustee. This action, we reliably gathered, led to resumption of fresh hostilities from the camp of the two gladiators which has split the once vibrant ministry into two.
In a desperate move to revert the decision which he believed was illegal, the sacked superintendent, petitioned The Registrar General of the Corporate Affairs Commission, contesting his removal from office. The letter which was made available to us on Friday, August 22, 2014 read thus, “As the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, Nigeria and one of the Trustees of the Registered Trustees of the Assemblies of God Nigeria, I registered my objection to being removed as a trustee of the Registered Trustees of the Assemblies of God, Nigeria. My objections are predicated on the following grounds:
1. By virtue of Article IX, section 2 of the constitution and byelaws of the Assemblies of God, Nigeria 2002, my position as the General Superintendent makes me a Trustee of the Association and I continue to be so except if I am removed by any means provided by the constitution.
2. There was a failed attempt by some break away Executive committee members of the church and some ambassadors to remove me on March 6, 2013 as the General Superintendent. The same disgruntled members are the ones championing this Kangaroo attempt to remove the purported resolution
3. Important also, the question of my purported removal is the subject matter of four different suits namely E/202M/2014, HAB/48/2014, NICN/EN/214/2013 and FHC/95/2014. In these cases, the question as to whether I was constitutionally suspended as General Superintendent or not are being contested before the court.
4. In suit no E/202M/2014 in particular, the High Court of Enugu state made an interim order of injunction mandating the parties to maintain the status quo ante bellum (that is to maintain their respective positions prior to the state of hostilities)… we therefore advise that the CAC should not accept any request to remove me as a trustee as that will be flouting the Order of Court.
Things have fallen apart in the once revered Assemblies of God Church over fierce leadership tussle, fraud and financial misappropriation of church funds. The crises rocking the ministry turned messier on Tuesday, June 24, 2014, when loyalists of the sacked General Superintendent of the church, Rev. Prof. Paul Emeka clashed with loyalists of the acting General Superintendent, Rev.
Chidi Okoroafor and locked him out of the church.
The church, ENCOMIUM Weekly reliably gathered, has not known peace since few members of the executive committee referred to as ambassadors of the kingdom ousted the General Superintendent on March 6, 2014, on allegation of defrauding the church to the tune of N450 million. They suspended Rev. Paul Emeka over allegations of misconduct, highhandedness, financial misappropriation and sundry matters.
The general committee of the church henceforth appointed the Assistant General Superintendent, Rev. (Dr.) Chidi Okoroafor, as the acting General Superintendent to pilot the affairs of the church in line with the church’s constitution and bye-laws.
A letter dated March 6, 2014, entitled, “Re: Rev. Prof. Paul Emeka, former General Superintendent, Assemblies of God, Nigeria” and signed by Rev. Dr. John Ikoni, Rev. Dr. Chidi Okoroafor and Rev. Dr. Vincent Alaje; the General Secretary, Acting General Superintendent and General Treasurer respectively, stated, “Please, be informed that at the meeting of the General Committee, Assemblies of God, Nigeria held on March 6 in the Conference Hall of the National Secretariat, Enugu, the General Committee suspended the Rev. Prof. Paul Emeka from membership of Assemblies of God, Nigeria.
“Rev. Prof. Paul Emeka, who until this development served as General Superintendent of Assemblies of God, Nigeria, therefore ceases to function in any of the duties assigned to the Office of the General Superintendent in the constitution and bye-Laws of the General Council of Assemblies of God, Nigeria, also with effect from today.” The church also accused the former General Superintendent of being autocratic, financially reckless, power drunk and above all taking the church to court, which is tantamount to tarnishing its image and bringing it to public ridicule.
Among other matters leveled against the suspended General Superintendent are withdrawal of N200 million from the Pension Fund without due process, spending N250 million for the alleged acquisition of a property in Germany without the approval of the Executive Committee (EC), false claims to proprietorship of the Evangel University, false claim to the rank of professor, and use of the same after his name with the embarrassment to the church, among others.”
In a swift reaction, the suspended GS has described his ordeal as the handiwork of his enemies in the church as well as a political and ethnic gang-up against him, noting that such blackmail was aimed at tarnishing his image but believed that he would surmount his perceived detractors.
The embattled General Superintendent of Assemblies of God Church, Rev Prof Paul Emeka had alleged that over N150 million was looted by the Rev Chidi Okoroafor led illegal executive just within six weeks of his purported suspension and that by now it is clocking close to half a billion naira.
Rev Paul Emeka claimed that within six weeks of his purported suspension, the usurpers have already looted about N150 million and even went as far as forging his signature on a cheque of N9 million.
According to the cleric, “These illegal men have looted and spent more than N150 million of the general council funds. They keep holding these illegal meetings with the district superintendents and treasurers from zone to zone, telling them how they would remit money to them.
“They have opened new accounts because I kept blocking any existing accounts I discovered. They are mercilessly dealing with the general council funds with which they service their numerous lawyers and members of their think-tank whom they quarter in various places to keep manipulating the church and the court with lies. They even forged my signature on a cheque of N9 million on March 18. Thank God that the bank alerted me promptly.”
Rev. Emeka dismissed his suspension as illegal and unconstitutional. Implying vindictive motive behind his purported removal
He said, “Suspension as a form of discipline in the Assemblies of God is designed to serve as a spiritual and holy purpose and not to achieve political and vindictive purpose. The purported suspension pronounced on me on March 6, 2014, was the meanest exercise of discipline. It was motivated by hatred, god-fatherism, envy and opportunism. It fell short of a legal general committee.”
Rev. Emeka in his statement made available to ENCOMIUM Weekly on Sunday, June 29, 2014, believed that there was no quorum for the meetings, neither were the right participants in attendance, implying that the committee that suspended him was an illegal one.
According to him, “The body that pronounced that suspension was a wrong one. The so-called general committee did not have up to twenty unit heads out of about 105 unit heads. In other words, it didn’t have a quorum. In the roll call, according to the video, majority of the districts were absent. Observers were used as voting members. This was in addition to the fact that the process was wrong. The GS is the only one authorized by the constitution to call for a General Committee.”
Clarifying further, the cleric said, “The Ambassadors of the Kingdom filled the hall. The ambassadors were to participate only if their districts delegated them to come. But being ambassadors did not automatically qualify them to be there and do business. Rather, they were supposed to be there as a party having a case with the GS.
“Unfortunately, it was the ambassadors who wrote petitions against me, they judged me, convicted me, condemned me and punished me. They moved the motions to nail me. These were the same people who signed the petition against me.”
Rev. Emeka decried the unholy involvement of the immediate past General Superintendent, Rev. (Dr.) Charles Osueke in the plot to unseat him and described the entire plot as “the unholiest plot of the century. It was anything but holy. It was driven by hate, a long-held desire to revenge a perceived personal wrong. It was driven by a passionate desire to make good his plot to enthrone his god-son, Chidi Okoroafor.”
“It is necessary to inform you, according to their video tape, that even before coming to the meeting, they had decided what to do to me, and the least of these evil plots was to step me down. This they decided to do even when they had not heard from me. During the meeting, they used votes to decide whether I would be stepped down or be suspended. In Assemblies of God, we do not use votes to decide the suspension of a person.
“You cannot decide the punishment of an adulterer, a thief, etc. with votes. Therefore, if I really had sinned and they knew it, there wouldn’t have been any need to vote to decide which discipline to mete out on me.”
Rev. Paul Emeka alleged that his travails began when he decided to introduce financial propriety into the system. He decried a situation whereby in Evangel University, within the first month of operation brought a salary bill of N6 million and in the second month the salary was jerked to N9 million by the third month it escalated to N13 million, even when a student population of 73 does not justify such increment.
He claimed to have complained that they were employing staff for the university without due consultation to the point that 135 staff were serving 73 students within a few months of operation and his complaints was misinterpreted as disloyalty to the status quo. Rev. Paul Emeka also believed that his proposal to increase the pension of retired pastors of the church brought him in conflict with an interest that wants their retired pastors to continue to suffer.
He wondered why they preferred to use pastor’s fund to run offices rather than increase pension to pastors.
According to him “Last year, the pastors fund generated N2.5 billion from the time that scheme started. All that had been paid to the pastors was only N123 million in 16 years, up to N300 million and more was spent on office.
“The purpose of that scheme was not to run the office or other things but to help our pastors in retirement. But many of them are suffering and we felt free to our conscience to allow them in that state and pay lip service to our holiness.”
– FEMI OYEWALE