Kaduna Govt Closes Assemblies Of God Church Over Leadership Crises | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Kaduna Govt Closes Assemblies Of God Church Over Leadership Crises

Posted: Oct 5, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Rev (Dr) Sunday Ibrahim is the Secretary, Christian Association of Nigeria,(CAN),Kaduna State chapter. In this interview with GABRIEL JOHN, he said that the recent closure of Assemblies of God Church in Saminaka Kaduna, by the state government was in the interest of peace.  Excerpts: 

Rev Ibrahim

Rev Ibrahim

How would you react to the recent closure of Assemblies of God Church in Saminaka Kaduna by the State Government?

I have quite a number of petitions on my table. Almost all the petitions on my table were copied to the State Commissioner of Police (CP), Bureau for Christian Matters and Governor Nasir El-Rufai, by a faction of the church leadership, who are aggrieved over certain issues that ordinarily could be settled by the leadership of the association.

I look at it that the governor may not even know most of these things. I think he was briefed on some of the things that happened in the Assemblies of God Church, Saminaka Kaduna State.

When you hear stories such as the closure of a church by government, don’t just conclude that somebody somewhere has marginalised one religious or the other. People should try as much as possible to find out the other version from other side.

Or they should make an effort to get to the root of the matter. To the best of my knowledge, they are two factions within the church. Each petition was directly written to the state government and government agencies in the state by these two factions, without due consideration and regard to Kaduna state chapter of CAN.

As an umbrella body of churches in the state, CAN has wielded into the matter, even though it is a national issue. At the national level, the problem was not resolved, because one of the factions refused to accept the decision and resolution of CAN.

  I think the national body is thinking of taking back the issue to the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, because it was the IGP that referred the matter to the body at the national level. Even at the state level, it was so. My deputy and the state CAN administrator have done their possible best to see how the matter will be resolved, but to no avail.

One of the factions seems not to understand and appreciate the efforts with a view to resolving the issue. It was then that the Deputy Governor of the State, who is also a Christian wielded into the matter.

Surprising, we read in one of the national dallies, not Daily Independent, on the 9th September, 2015, page 47, that one of the factions wrote an open letter, which was published in the paper.

To worsen the whole situations, few days after, an open letter was written to the higher authority, reporting the deputy governor of the state, Arc Banabas to the governor of the state.

They said in the letter that they told the government of Kaduna State that they do not accept the decision taken at the reconciliation meeting, held with the deputy governor of Kaduna state.

Besides, the other faction has sued Kaduna State government, CAN, Bureau for Christian matters, the Commissioner of Police and the Chief of Kurama.

So, if the state government has taken decision to close down the church, fine and good.

  People should also understand that government is for the peace of her citizens. I think the decision to close down the church is for the interest of peace in the state. Government is always after the peace of her citizens.  This is a church that they fight among themselves after church service.

I could remember that at a certain time, one of the church members was beating to a state of coma. At a certain time, during one of the disagreements, a church member was also cut with a knife and was immediately rushed to a Hospital for urgent medical attention.

If the government in its wisdom and for peace to rain in the state, took decision to close down the church, I think, it’s for the interest of the people in the state. I made bold to say that what the government of Kaduna State has done is the right thing to do.

Government will not fold its arm and see people in the name of worship fighting themselves to the extent of beating one of their members to a state of coma.

Kaduna CAN strongly support the action of government by closing down the church. It will serve as deterrent to as many people who belong to one association or the other.

This is what will make the two parties to sit at round table and take decision that will bring about peaceful co-existence among members.

What exactly caused the crisis in the church?

It is a national issue. It all began when Professor Paul Emeka, who is General Superintendent, was elected by the membership of the church. Followed by Rev (Dr) Chidi, who served as his deputy. It was like coup détat.

People want to be leaders at all cost. It’s all about selfishness and self interest, which has brought backwards to where it is today. That is why CAN wielded into the matter for peace to rein.

But one of the factions seems not to agree or accept the decision of the Christian association in the state. I think people should listen to the call of God, since we were all created by God.

In a matter like this, it is better to sit down together and dialogue with a view to reaching decision. During dialoging, the two parties will shift grounds and there will be a meeting point.

Fighting for position among Christians in the state has become a re-occurrence issue in the state.

Few years ago, we had two factions of CAN in the state, fighting over the leadership, until it was finally resolved.

Why is the leadership tussle always in Kaduna State?

Well, I don’t know anything about that. If there is any crisis, I don’t know, but of course, when a family in a house like this is increasing, just like when you are a bachelor, your life is just the way you want to live.

But as soon as you are married and start bearing children, responsibilities increase. I just want to let you know that it is all about interest, people just want to have their interest.

I think that we have resolved those issues. That is why you are seeing us living together as one big family today. Some people even went to court because they were aggrieved. But as soon as we came in, we make sure that all those issues were resolved.

All cases in court were withdrawn and I think we are moving forward.

What is the relationship between Kaduna State Government and the state Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), which you are the secretary?

Well, the Christian association in Kaduna state  cannot carry out any activity or program in isolation without consulting with the state government, if it warrants the presence of government.

We are for the government, we are praying for the government, because the success of the government is our success. The Bible says that every government is instituted by God. I made bold to tell you that our relationship is cordial. 

But the state Governor reiterated his commitment not to sponsor any Christian for the holy pilgrimage?

That is why he said during his campaigns that if he wins the election; the issue of sponsorship will be cancelled. I want people to look at it in good faith. His decision affected both Muslims and Christians in the state. If the decision was binding on Christians alone, that is where we cry out to the government.

The government is saying that when we came in, there is nothing in the coffer to sponsor religious leaders to holy pilgrimage and that with little resources; they were trying to see how they could run the government.

I think people should give the government enough time and more so, we should be matured in our day-to-day activities with the government. Matured in the sense that we should be praying for the government.

I know that if the government has taken such decision, it will not last forever. By the time the government realizes that things have improved tremendously, it will lift the embargos. One other thing with the issue of pilgrimage is that some people who were opportune were not using it well.

Besides, others were abusing the privilege by diverting funds. Should the government take decision not to sponsor anyone to the holy land. Our duty is to pray for them. One would have advised government not to out rightly withdraw the sponsorship, but to reduce the number of people it is sponsoring. For example, if it is sponsoring 12 people for instance, it may decide to reduce it to six.