This post is for my non-AGN friends who have been genuinely concerned about the shameful things that befell a foremost Pentecostal church in Nigeria and in the world. It is to update on the state of the crisis and give some cause to rejoice and hope. It is not for AGN members for they know these things already.
1. You may recall the media blitzkrieg embarked upon by Dr Paul Emeka as soon as he was removed from office as the General Superintendent of the Church in 2014. Through the said media blitzkrieg, he seized the initiative to set the narrative before the Nigerian public and make public what we were hiding from even the generality of the Church.
2. His narrative was that (a) He is a reformer; his opposers are reactionary. (b) He is transparent, his opposers are corrupt. (c) He is from a minority section of Igbo land (!!!); his opposers are from the majority section of Igbo land. (d) He is humble and was loyal to his predecessor in office; his opposers are disloyal, proud and ambitious. Etc, etc.
3. By the time the Church presented its counter, it was too late. Many of you called or visited me to ask why we would be so mean, so unjust and so carnal to a man who wanted to clean up the Church and move it forward. We were pushed to a defensive position from the start because we did not think we needed to resort to the media, traditional or social, to defend actions taken internally in and for the Church.
4. The most significant aspect of the public interest was his appeal to the Supreme Court against the judgement of the Court of Appeal which affirmed his removal and reversed the award of N30,000,000 damages to him by Justice A.O Onovo of the Enugu State High Court. This is not the place to talk of the tension and intrigues generated by the appeal. The Church, the government, the press and the public counted days, then hours and then the minutes to the final judgement of the apex court.
5. The day came. The man had come with an army of media people. His followers wore uniforms displaying his bust. They waited outside with their instruments of merrymaking. All over the nation, his thugs were set to seize churches the same day by force and by fire.
6. Then came the judgment, unanimous and unambiguous. His appeal was DISMISSED! With shame he and his crew scampered away from the premises of the Supreme Court and the pressmen he brought turned to our people for the news and analysis of the judgment.
7. You may have thought that that ended the matter and that the man would either leave the Church or come back in penitence.
8. Instead of doing either of the above, he has filed SIX more suits THIS YEAR (after the judgement) against the Church in various courts and under various capacities. His cronies and followers have also filed their own seeking the same frivolous reliefs from different courts.
9. You may ask why he is doing this against the clear decision of the Supreme Court. I will tell you. In Nigeria, it is easy to abuse judicial process. In some climes, a court can refuse to hear your case because it doesn’t see anything new you wish to canvass above that which exists in the same suit elsewhere. In other climes, the court can award heavy costs against a frivolous and vexatious litigant. In some other climes, there is a limit to game-laying by lawyers and litigants. In Nigeria, you can use the court to hold unto to an unlawful possession or advantage till the world ends.
10. Dr Emeka, in alliance with a few district superintendents in parts of Edo, Delta, Enugu, Abuja, Jos and some other parts of the north, are still refusing to remit any money to the national Church. This money is what Dr Emeka and his few offenders are holding on to and wish to hold on to as long as judicial processes will allow them. To maintain the illegitimacy, he is still parading as the General Superintendent and the suits are filed to give him the umbra to keep collecting the Church’s money.
11. However, friends, there is a silver lining in the sky! The staunchest supporter of Dr Emeka, Nathan Udeze, has left his camp, come back to the Church, apologised and is accepted back into the fold.
12. To help you understand how important this is, consider the following: It was this Udeze, an ordained minister in the Church and the former National Youth Director of the Church, that filed the second suit in the saga of suits from Paul Emeka and his agents, servants and proxies. It was with this suit that he obtained the first interim injunction against the Church. It was Udeze that led the police and thugs to break up a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Church (the highest executive arm of the national Church), forced a minister/national leader to jump through the window of the first floor, broke the heads of Church workers and locked out the Church leaders from its sprawling national headquarters at Enugu. It was Udeze who kept and maintained the thugs that possessed and prevented Church leaders and members from accessing the headquarters. It was Udeze who led thugs to break up church services all over Enugu metropolis, throw our members and pastors and transfer possession of prized churches to followers of Paul Emeka. Udeze was the hatchet man on the street, in the courts and in the traditional and social media. Udeze was Emeka’s outstretched arm and his firestorm. He went everywhere persecuting the saints and blaspheming for Pual Emeka.
13. It is this same Udeze who has left Paul Emeka!
14. My Church is press-shy. Maybe it should be. This ought to be breaking news. This ought to explain things to the outside world. This ought to prove to you that the Church was right from the beginning and is still right in its disciplinary action against its former leader. This confirms that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church.
15. What is more, the man Udeze is not back quietly. He is talking! He is saying the same thing we have been saying from the beginning and Dr Emeka and his few followers said were false. He is unsaying the things he said during his propaganda war against the Church and the saints. He now acknowledges that it was never a personal fight between Dr Emeka and Dr Okoroafor. He acknowledges that Dr Emeka promoted himself over and above the Church and his fellow leaders and was turning the Church into a one-,man church.
16. I am updating you so that those who have been deeply concerned about the AGN will know that prayer must continue and that that Lord is at work in the heart of the rebels. We will rather that all men are saved than anyone should perish. We are praying for Dr Emeka himself. It is not too late.
17. About Paul Emeka’s new suits, some are against the Corporate Affairs Commission that approved his removal from the Board of Trustees of the Church, some are against banks that serve the Church, some are against the Inspector-General of Police, some are against past and current leaders and some are against the Church itself. The last set were filed in August, We don’t know the ones to follow.
18. Nathan Udeze’s repentance, return and restoration shows that Justice Emmanuel Ogebe, former justice of the Supreme Court, was right in what he told a peace meeting of the Church in December 2014–that the court is not equipped to solve spiritual problems. Justice Ogebe had blamed Emeka for suing either the Church or the brethren in the first place and wondered why he did not resign when he saw that he was not carrying his co-leaders along. He was even more shocked that Emeka, whose tenure had expired as at then was still insisting on running for office again although his leadership had brought the Church to an unprecedented crisis. I know these things because I was present in the said meeting and kept a verbatim record of the proceeding.
19. There is one reason this crisis will not easily end. Paul Emeka is using some district superintendents and those superintendents are using him. He is using some sections of those sections are also using him. It is a marriage of the unholy that gives birth to the unholy. However, God who has touched Udeze and given the Church the grace to forgive him will touch the rest. We hope so and pray so.
Thank you, friends, for your sympathies and empathy.
God bless you.
Barr Imma Okochua is a member of the Legal Team,Assemblies Of God Nigeria