by Success Nwogu
The Christian Association of Nigeria, Kwara State chapter, has petitioned Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed against the demolition of a church property.
The property belongs to the Living Faith Church, aka Winners Chapel, Sango, Ilorin, Kwara State.
Also, the Youth Wing of CAN in the state has appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan, Ahmed and well-meaning residents of the state to prevent a seeming unrest in the state.
The Province Pastor of the church, Chris Osiberu, had on March 24, during a news conference, alleged that some members of the Ajegunle community in Sango destroyed the fence, shopping complex and some building materials at the church’s new site at Ajegunle, Kulende, Old Jebba Road, Sango.
He said the money stolen from the contractors and workers on site and the destroyed church property and building materials was estimated at N78.3m.
In a statement signed by the state’s CAN chairman, Dr. James Folaranmi, and secretary, Rev. C.O.S. Fawenu, which was made available to journalists on Thursday, CAN said it was disappointed that the culprits had not been arrested, detained or prosecuted.
The Christian body regretted that instead, the Kwara State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Chinwike Asadu, summoned CAN to a meeting and conveyed to the body a ‘stop work’ resolution of the Kwara State Security Council.
The statement read, “The Kwara State CAN has, however, met to review the situation and found the purported ‘stop work’ order unconstitutional and objectionable. We also note that the ‘stop work’ order amounts to usurping the responsibilities of the court since the matter is already before a court of law.
“As citizens of this state and Nigeria, we expect the government agencies concerned to provide full security at the sight as any attempt by anybody or group to stop the work will be resisted.”
The letter was copied to the Deputy Governor, General Secretary, National CAN; Northen states CAN, Kwara State Commissioner of Police, Commandant, Sobi Barracks; Director of State Security Service, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Kwara State chapter; Presiding Bishop, Living Faith Church, World Wide and Bishop David Oyedepo; Chairman, Kwara State Committee on Religious Matters.
The Youth Wing in their letter said they considered the alleged action as an affront and highly provocative.
They alleged that a prominent traditional ruler in the state was using his influence to make the government relocate the church, adding that this move was seen as a slap on the face of the Christian community in the state.
“Known to us is that the government of Kwara State and the State Security Council are trying to stop the construction of the church for which town planning approval had been obtained.
“We are aware that the SSS and the state command of the Nigeria Police, who are also part of the State Security Council, have at various times been involved in the matters that are surrounding the legal acquisition of the land on which the church is being built and have jointly agreed with all parties concerned that work should go on the church building, more so that a high court had dismissed a suit filed to stop the project.”
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr. Ezekiel Dabo, said the police were not biased in handling the matter.
He stated that the command was doing everything to maintain peace and ensure amicable resolution of the matter.
Senior Special Assistant to the State Governor on Media and Communication, Dr. Muyideen Akorede, in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Thursday, said the state government gave the ‘stop work’ order to pave the way for an amicable resolution of the matter.
He stated that the youths, who were allegedly involved in the demolition of the church property, had been arrested.
He added that the government was not taking side with any religion but would be firm and fair to all religions in the state and ensure justice and equity.
He said, “The land was originally acquired for the FG by the state government to construct a NITEL facility. When NITEL was wound up, a certain man who is a member of the church bought the land and subsequently passed it to the church.
“Community members protested that if the land was no longer going to be used for the NITEL project, it should be reverted to them and not sold to an individual who would have to pass it over to the church.”
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