By Sam Eyoboka & Bose Adelaja
Gospel Apostolic Church, GAC, yesterday, described as untrue, rumours that its President and Founder of 42 years, Pa Samuel Akinbode Sadela, is dead even as people have started extolling the virtues of the old man in a condolence register opened yesterday.
Pa Sadela, regarded as the oldest preacher in the country, was said to have died in a Lagos hospital after complications relating to old age.
But when newsmen sought confirmation from the church in Gbagada area of Lagos, security personnel at the church and other church workers denied the report.
However, late last night our reporter confirmed that the oldest preacher had indeed passed on at the age of 114.
One of the senior pastors at the church, Femi Atode, said though the church’s President was receiving treatment in hospital, there was no indication that he had passed on.
According to Atode, for the past five years, Pa Sadela who turned 114 years recently did not miss church programmes until last Sunday. He said the information regarding his death was mere speculation by members of the public.
‘’It is a mere speculation that the old man is dead. Though he is aged, he still performed his church roles until last Sunday.
“Perhaps people are apprehensive that he was absent last Sunday, but believe me, the man is alive but hospitalised.
“If such a thing has happened, the church would have announced it,” Atode, who described the oldest preacher in Nigeria as a man with a large heart, said the summer coaching he started is on-going (pointing to a near-by building).
“I believe the place would have been locked if the founder is dead. He instructed us to start a summer coaching since 1992 and thousands of students have benefited from this without paying a penny.
“Baba was once advised to collect a token from the students but he refused, saying the gift of God is free. Also, the church runs a free evening coaching for Jambites and this has made immense contribution to residents’’, he noted.
Pa Sadela, a native of Ifon, Ondo State established the church in 1972 under the instruction of the founder of Christ Apostolic Church, Apostle Joseph Babalola, and the church has attracted people from far and wide.
Vanguard had visited the church’s headquarters in Lagos, in response to several calls that the oldest preacher passed on yesterday, in an undisclosed hospital but Atode insisted that their founder was alive. ‘’Before such information gets to the public we are in the best position to verify it. But as I am talking to you, there is nothing of that nature.’’
When Vanguard arrived the church around 3.00 pm, only the security team and few pastors were seen without any indication that the church was mourning.