Power tussle: 5 injured as rival factions clash in Assemblies of God Church
By Chibota Edozie
Hell was let loose yesterday as five persons were seriously wounded while two cars were burnt during a clash by the two factions in the crisis in Assemblies of God Church Nigeria .
The Police also confirmed the arrest of ten members of the private security outfit of the church, known as Royal Rangers, said to be in possession of dangerous weapons.
It was gathered that the clash followed a move by several of members of the church loyal to its Assistant General Superintendent, Rev. Chidi Okoroafor to 'forcefully' take over the national secretariat of the church on Independence layout, Enugu.
But one of the members loyal to Okoroafor, who gave her name as Pastor Favour said that the members had gone to the secretariat for prayer over the problems in the church.
The group had for some time now opposed the General Superintendent of the Church, Prof Paul Emeka, leading to the factionalization of the church among the two leaders.
They had during a purported meeting in Okpoto, Ebonyi state recently elected Okoroafor as its general superintendent. The Okpoto meeting took place more than one week after thousands of the members gathered in Enugu and reelected Rev Emeka for another term of four years and placed suspension on some members including Okoroafor for allegedly ridiculing the church.
Rev Emeka had continued to occupy the national secretariat of the church, even as several court orders over the headship of the church had been resolved in his (Emeka) favour
Trouble was said to have started when members of the Okoroafor faction yesterday morning stormed the national secretariat in several buses and attempted to gain entry into the national secretariat but were prevented from doing so by supporters of Emeka.
A free for all had ensued as every object in sight was used as weapon by the rampaging 'church members', majority of whom came from outside the state.
An eye witnesses said that the timely intervention of the police saved what probably could have gone as 'bloodbath', stressing that 'both camps was ready to die over the property'.
It was discovered that supporters loyal to Emeka took prominent positions inside the secretariat complex, while some others who apparently did not come on time were seen outside. Broken bottles, pieces of wood and carcasses of the burnt cars lay in the area.
An attempt to speak to Rev Okoroafor on the development yesterday proved abortive as a call on his mobile line which was received by one of his supporters simply said 'Daddy is in a meeting and not available to talk to you now'.
But Rev Emeka, deplored the action of Okoroafor, alleging that he (Okoroafor) 'gathered Bakassi boys in five buses as well as many others to forcefully take over the national secretariat of the church'.
'It is sad. He should know how to respect court orders and he should know that the church is in crisis and that force is not the solution to the problem.
He should submit himself to wise counsel and stop using thugs to harass the church. The boys arrested have confessed that he paid them to cause trouble', he said.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Ebere Amaraizu said that at least eight members of the Royal Rangers had been arrested for allegedly possessing dangerous weapons.
He added that the police was drafted in to the area to forestall further breach of peace, and called on the warring factions to abide by the resolutions of the court.
He warned that the police would not fold her arms and watch them derail the peace of the state.