BY Tony Edike
ENUGU—THE crisis in the Assemblies of God Church Nigeria, with its polarising effects, took a dangerous dimension, yesterday, as members of the two camps clashed leaving some people wounded.
An attempt by the faction loyal to the Assistant General Superintendent, Rev. Chidi Okoroafor, to hold anti-Paul Emeka meeting at Isiagu Street, Achara Layout branch of the church was the major cause of the clash.
The embattled General Superintendent of the church, Rev. Paul Emeka, and some top members of the church had engaged in a protracted dispute over issues relating to lack of accountability and conspiracy in the church’s leadership.
The anti-Emeka members of the church’s executive committee had slated a meeting yesterday to review the crisis that engulfed the church, following the purported suspension of the General Superintendent by a group in the church.
The District Pastor incharge of Isiagu street branch of the church, Pastor Isaac Ochu, who is in the anti-Emeka faction, accepted to host the meeting, even when some leaders of his branch, including the deacons, were opposed to the meeting.
Pastor Ochu was said to have announced the meeting last Sunday but his members who were sympathetic to the GS, told him point-blank that the meeting of the alleged renegades should not hold in the church.
Pastor Ochu was said to have ignored their advice and went ahead to convene the meeting in his church but unknown to him, the deacons in the church had mobilized their colleagues from other branches to barricade the entrances to the church.
Sensing that there could be danger at the meeting venue, the anti-Emeka group reportedly invited soldiers to the church Monday night but were withdrawn in the early hours of yesterday.
However, when the participants who were mostly pastors from different branches of the church in the state arrived for the meeting yesterday morning, they met a stiff resistance by the pro-Eneka group and as they tried to force their way into the church, a fight broke out between the two groups.
The anti-Emeka group, according to an eyewitness, was overpowered as the pastors ran for their dear lives and later moved to an undisclosed place in Trans-Ekulu to hold the meeting.
The pro-Emeka group remained at the church premises until yesterday evening but declined to speak with newsmen.
But some of the deacons were heard threatening that Pastor Ochu would not be allowed to preside over the affairs of the church, henceforth, for identifying with the renegades who they accused of trying to destroy the church.