By Dennis Agbo
ENUGU Capital Territory Development Authority, ECTDA, and Master Builders Church have locked horns over purpose clause in the use of a property for religious worship in a high-risk Enugu GRA neighbourhood.
The government agency had given an eviction notice to the church in 2019, citing the security implications of the church premises sandwiched between the Department for State Security, DSS, state headquarters, Court of Appeal and other institutions located in the area originally slated as a residential area.
ECTDA recently enforced abatement of nuisance on the property but said that the Church in defiance has returned to the premises to continue with religious activities, contrary to the law.
Chairman of ECTDA, Dr Josef Onoh told Vanguard that “next week, we shall file criminal charges against the Pastor of the church, Abraham Agu, for break and entry and unlawful trespass into a property sealed by the government.”
Pastor Agu, however, said that the location of the church was not in any way a security threat to any of the agencies in the neighbourhood, adding that even the DSS gave the church permission to operate.
Agu narrated that his Church reached an agreement with the ENUGU Capital Territory Development Authority for time to allow the church to relocate since the agency insisted that the area was not meant for religious service.
“Before we got to that place, we went to the DSS. We had an agreement with DSS and they told us that the only condition to allow us to operate there was that we should close the gate, seal the gate and we should not use the gate opposite them, which we agreed but ENUGU Capital Territory Development Authority came and started making a lot of things difficult.”
Agu denied that the church constitutes nuisance in the neighbourhood, adding that a Court that seats inside the agency office had summoned them in November 2019 but did not sit on the appointed date.
“We equally obtained a court order to stop them from demolishing our property but I told our members to stand the court order down and did not serve them because I said let’s settle amicably without going to court because I am a peace-loving man. If I wanted the legal rounds, they don’t have any right to pump into somebody’s property no matter who you are.
“Government is not an office, we are the government and so don’t intimidate me with your office. I stood the injunction down so that we can make peace but the young man did not want peace. Everything there was brought down, the equipment we have there is worth over N35 million, air conditioners were crushed with bulldozer, keyboard, drums were all crushed.”
Pastor Agu appealed to the state Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, to mediate in the matter since there was no gain in violent attacks.