Assemblies of God extends olive branch to followers of excommunicated leader

Joe Ejiofor

Following the Supreme Court Judgment delivered on February 24, 2017, which favoured the Assemblies of God Nigeria led by Dr. Chidi Okoroafor, the Executive Committee met recently and decided to give what it called ‘generous olive branch’ to all followers of Rev. Paul Emeka, who was dismissed from the church, to return to the fold.

A statement entitled: ‘Window of Grace is Still Open’ by the National Press Secretary of Assemblies of God Nigeria, Barr. Joel Ejiofor said all members of the church who left with Paul Emeka could return without fear of sanction on/before March 31, 2017.

The statement reads: “In its magnanimity and benevolence, the Executive Committee decided to extend the window of grace to April 30. You know the Bible says in 2 Peter 3:9 that the Lord is patient toward you, not wishing any to perish, but all to make-room for repentance. The intention of the Executive Committee of the Church is to give room for all who went astray to return back to the fold. The Church is like a mechanic where people are fixed and prepared for heaven. It is human to err but to continue erring is a problem.

“Assemblies of God Nigeria believes in restoring a fallen member back to Christian fold when such member shows remorse and repent. That is the standard Bible practice and it is not something that someone should be ashamed to do. In our church today, there are so many people who were once disciplined in one way or the other and are presently occupying leadership position. So, it is not something that has never happened in the history of the Church.

“It pays the church no good when its followers leave the faith. Earlier the Executive Committee has said: ‘We are one church. People should return let’s build the church. It is one church. Those who fought the church either by mistake or whatever should return; let’s unite and forge ahead. In AG, somebody could be suspended in morning service and restored during evening service depending on his response. Some fathers in the faith were suspended but restored when they showed remorse.

“Article XIII of the Constitution and Bye-Law of the Assemblies of God Nigeria provides for restoration and reinstatement of any pastor who violates the Constitution. You see AG has an exhaustive internal mechanism for handling its affairs.”

While the church expresses gratitude to God for those who came back such as Rev. Abel Davou, the Senior Pastor of Assemblies of God Church, Gura Ryom Gyel, Jos, Plateau State, and his followers as well as Rev Emmanuel Dauda, the Senior Pastor of AG Kakuri DIC Road, Kaduna, among others, it also debunked as false the claim that the Assemblies of God Nigeria led by Dr. Okoroafor did not win at the Supreme Court.

According to Barrister Ejiofor: “In any matter between two parties, one person must win and the other loses. There must be an end to litigation. Litigation can’t be endless. If any matter goes to the Supreme Court, that is the final bus stop. You cannot appeal against the Judgment of Supreme Court to any other body or person. Section 235 of the Nigerian Constitution says, Without prejudice to the powers of the President or of the Governor of a state with respect to prerogative of mercy, no appeal shall lie to any other body or person from any determination of the Supreme Court. The judgment is not in favour of one man but in favour of the Church as a body.

Don’t be deceived; Paul Emeka lost both at the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. The fact that Paul Emeka’s group does not like the Supreme Court judgment does not render it of no effect.”

The church also debunked the claim that Paul Emeka is fighting to protect the northern interest, but the National Press Secretary affirmed: “His fight against the Church is purely based on personal and selfish interest. AG Nigeria is composed of different ethnic groups and no ethnic group has more opportunity than the other. We are all equal. We have had a GS who is from Edo State, Rev. Dr. Oyakhilome who led the Church from 1969 to 1982. We also had a General Treasurer from Jos, Rev. Deme Bot who served the Church for over eight years before he retired. Currently, our serving General Treasurer, Rev. Vincent Akin Alaje is from Oyo State and our serving General Secretary, Dr. Akpan Amaowoh is from Akwa Ibom State. We have so many of them, but time will fail me to mention them. AG is a church where any person regardless of where you come from can become great.”

Ejiofor went on: “Don’t be deceived by another false information saying that the judgment of the Supreme Court was fifty-fifty and as such the Assemblies of God Nigeria cannot enforce the judgment. The Judgment of the Supreme Court cannot be helpless because it must favour one of the parties. In this case, the church led by Dr. Okoroafor won unanimously without a dissenting voice. It is not Chidi Okoroafor that won but the Assemblies of God Nigeria. Dr. Okoroafor was sued in his representative capacity and not as a person. Don’t be deceived into believing that the matter is between Paul Emeka and Dr. Okoroafor. It’s not true. It is a matter between Paul Emeka as a person against the institution called the Assemblies of God Nigeria. Take note Paul Emeka took the Assemblies of God Nigeria to High Court of Enugu State on 15th April, 2014 on the ground that his fundamental right was violated. Four principal reliefs sought in his Motion on Notice for the enforcement of his fundamental rights were: a declaration that the General Committee held on 6th March, 2014 was illegal and unconstitutional, the same not having been properly convened and constituted in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and Bye-Laws of AG Nigeria 2002 and in contravention of his rights to peaceful exercise of his duties as GS enshrined in 1999 Constitution; a declaration that the decision to dismiss and suspend him on March 6, 2014 should be declared nullity (ultra vires) for not having being constituted by legitimate members of the General Committee; an order restraining Dr. Chidi Okoroafor from parading himself as the Acting General Superintendent of AG Nigeria and an order restraining the trustees from interfering with Paul Emeka in exercise of his duties as GS, the enjoyment of all the rights, privileges, benefits and remunerations of the office of GS and from exercising his right as a Minister and member of AG Nigeria. (See pages 3 – 6 of Supreme Court Judgment).”

Arguing that the Supreme Court ruling on the case was final, Ejiofor noted: “Paul Emeka Group popularly called “TST Group” also falsely claimed that the Supreme Court ordered that they should Go back and reserve. I have carefully read in its entirety the Supreme Court judgment and cannot find where the Supreme Court said so. All I can see is what Justice Kekere-Ekun said at page 69 – 70 of Supreme Court Judgment as stated above. The Federal High Court Order obtained by Paul Emeka Group on 10th April 2017 restraining the police from preventing the applicants from accessing the National headquarters of the Church cannot hold water because the Supreme Court is Functus Officio. In other words, the Supreme Court has finally dispensed of the matter concerning AG Nigeria and so any other matter instituted against it cannot see the light of the day. In that suit by the 3 applicants against Police and ors with the suit no. FHC/EN/CS/52/2017, the applicants sought leave of the court to enable the applicants apply for orders of judicial review. I am sure by the time that the matter gets to the Supreme Court, if at all it will get there; it will be an exercise in futility. The Supreme Court has been inundated with appeals to review its decision given in the same case and there has been a consistent refusal on the part of the court to act as an appeal court over itself…”



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