Clerics from the Apostolic Christian Church Mission, on Thursday took to the street of Aba to protest the sealing of the church’s headquarters by the Abia State Government.
According to The PUNCH, the Governor Okezie Ikpeazu had directed the closure of the Church which was located on 34 Omuma road Aba following a protracted leadership tussle rocking the church.
The directive was included in a statement dated December 31, 2022, and signed by Chris Ezem, Secretary to the State Government.
In their cassocks, the protesting priests marched to the governor’s lodge while singing gospel songs and laying forth their grievances.
Some of them brandished placards with several statements, including “Ikpeazu should open the national headquarters of ACCM”, “ACCM does not support tribalism, Let governor Ikpeazu unseal the headquarters of ACCM”.
The church’s spokesmen, Apostle Christopher Ogbuagu and Rev Ugochukwu Onugha, accused Ikpeazu of allegedly attempting to influence church leadership to favor his Kinsmen.
The two, who acknowledged that the church was currently dealing with a leadership issue, questioned why the governor, who is not a member of the church, was interested in the situation. The case is currently before the Owerri division of the Court of Appeal.
The statement reads, “There is a tiny minority of the church elders mostly politicians who incidentally are relatives of the Governor of Abia state Okezie Ikpeazu who wants to foist an unpopular Bishop over the church due to the death of the former Bishop.
“Also two other senior Apostles who were next in line; the financial secretary of the church who is not a career missionary of the church rose up and is receiving the support of the governor’s kinsmen and political allies; led by Chief Theo Nkire, who was one time Attorney general of Abia state and Elder Godwin Nna, who was one-time commissioner and local government chairman; whereas the next in line is a career missionary by name Rev Apostle John U Esinna; the financial secretary’s name is Apostle P C Erondu. Over 98% of members and clergy are behind the leadership of Rev J.U Esinna, the tiny minority led by theo Nkire are using every means possible to impose P C Erondu on the church.
“The matter is even before the court of Appeal Owerri and rather than the Theo Nkire ‘s group to be patient and law-abiding and await the verdict of the Court of Appeal they have resorted to all means possible to arm-twist the church and their latest move was to get the Governor to shut down the church headquarters to put fear into the members who are against his kinsmen.
“He even declared the leaders of the pro-Esnna group wanted in the state-controlled radio station calling them criminals. The entire clergy are now fed up with the continued involvement and interference and intimidation by the Governor of Abia state, thus embarked on a peaceful protest.
“The idea is to draw the attention of the public to the meddling of the state governor in a church matter that is even before the court of Appeal and trying to intimidate the church into accepting a nonclergy as their Bishop because his relatives and political allies are involved and to inform the world that should any harm come to any of our leaders that the governor should be held responsible and that he should hand off the church.”
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