By Luka Binniyat
KADUNA—The leadership tussle over the stool of the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God Church in Nigeria, between Professor Paul Emeka and Dr. Chidi, exploded into violence in one of its branches in Saminaka, Lere Local Government Area, Kaduna State, about 140 kilometres east of Kaduna metropolis.
The fight left 20 members with injuries and two homes of resident pastors burnt.
A source from the Assemblies of God Church (Jerusalem), Saminaka, told Vanguard in Kaduna that the fight started from 8a.m. and lasted till 2p.m. Sunday, which was later confirmed by Kaduna State Police Command.
It could be recalled that on September 15, 2015, Governor Nasir el-Rufai had ordered the closure of the church including the Theological Seminary of Northern Nigeria, Saminaka, Shalom Comprehensive College, AGC Evangelist Hospital, Saminaka, saying it was to avoid a possible breakdown of law and order, as the two factions squabbled.
According to the source, a minority faction of the church sneaked into the premises on Saturday evening and slept overnight.
The source said: “We came to worship around 8a.m. Not knowing that the other faction had prepared for war. We came into the premises and secured the gates.
“As soon as we had settled for the Church proceedings, about 20 members of the other faction appeared. They were armed with knives, daggers, clubs, iron rods and other weapons.
“To our surprise, Police, Army, Civil Defense personnel arrived the premises of the church almost the same time members of the other faction emerged.
“The Divisional Police Officer of Saminaka, who has just been posted here, seemed in charge of the security men around. He told us to come out of the church and leave the premises. We said we would only do so if the armed faction, which was then hauling stones at us, also left.
“In no time, they attacked us, injuring many of us. Since we were not armed, we had to find ways to escape.
“The most frightening thing was that the stones they were throwing were also falling into Hausa Muslims homes. If these people had reacted, I don’t know what Saminaka would have been today.
“The Muslims came out and were laughing at us. It is such a disgrace. To our surprise, the police and the rest did nothing to stop them. After inflicting injuries on us, they went to the homes of our two resident pastors and set them ablaze.”
When contacted, Police Public Relations Officer for Kaduna State Police Command, ASP Aliyu Usman, in a text message to Vanguard yesterday, said: “I have confirmed the story. The case between the two factions is already in court, while the DPO attached to Saminaka Division has controlled the situation and also made arrests of the hoodlums.
“The area is calm and proactive measures are been placed to prevent further escalation of the crisis.”