Sunday, February 11, 2018

Drama as Foursquare, ex-pastor contest church ownership, police lock out members



Police officers on Sunday prevented members of Embrace International Assembly, Ikorodu, Lagos, from gaining access into the church’s premises.

The policemen, who blocked the main entrance into the church with their van, also manned strategic positions within and outside the premises to prevent worshipers from going in.

As a result, members, who had turned out in large numbers for the day’s service, erected a canopy by the fence of the church to conduct Sunday worship under the rain.

After the emotive but brief service, a mild drama soon ensued when one of the policemen disembarked from the van and attempted to chase away the members, who, while carrying placards bearing different inscriptions, chanted songs of solidarity in front of the church.

As this went on, the policeman and two other colleagues shouted at the protesters to leave the place or “be thoroughly dealt with.” This resulted in hot exchange of words between both parties for several minutes.

The blockade of the church since Thursday by policemen followed an alleged order from the authorities of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria due to an alleged dispute with senior pastor of Embrace, one Rev. Isaac Adeyemi.

Foursquare claims that Adeyemi, who used to be a minister under them, converted their branch to his own church.

But speaking with PUNCH correspondent, Rev. Adeyemi said he could not understand why the church was allegedly sealed on the orders of Foursquare.

He said, “I really don’t want to talk about this because the matter is already in court.

“In all the courts Foursquare had taken me to, they lost the case. The grouse is not against Embrace International Assembly but (against) me as an individual.

“So, why are they now sealing (up) the church? I’ll let the court handle the matter.”

Also speaking on the matter, a high-ranking member of the church, Mr. Samuel Turoti, said they had no business with Foursquare, alleging that Foursquare “contributed no penny in the acquisition of the land and construction of the church.”

He said, “Foursquare does not own Embrace International Assembly; this church was built by the members.

“All the documents of the church do not indicate in any way that Foursquare is a part of us; so, why are they so interested in taking over what does not belong to them?

“This is illegality of the highest order.”

When contacted on the matter, National Secretary of Foursquare Gospel Church, Rev. Ikechukwu Ugbaja, said the property under contention belonged to them and that Adeyemi merely changed the name and converted it to his own after he was allegedly dismissed from the organisation.

He said, “Isaac Adeyemi used to be one of our pastors in Foursquare until he was dismissed for indiscipline.

“So, instead of going in peace, he and some rebels changed the name of our church to Embrace. That is where the problem started.

“For the fact that the church belonged to Foursquare, we took him to court and the court gave an injunction for him never to enter there again.

“It was the court, while granting our prayers, that sent bailiff to lock up the place last Thursday.

“It is not Foursquare that sent police to seal (up)  the place; it is the court that did that.”

PUNCH
Adeola Web Developer

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