Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The leadership crisis rocking the Abuja district of the Assemblies of God Church continued as some factional members, on Tuesday, insisted that Rev. Nicholas Anyanwu remained expelled from the church.
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja had, in its judgment, voided the suspension of Rev. Nicholas Anyanwu as the District Superintendent of Abuja district of the Assemblies of God Nigeria describing it as illegal and unconstitutional.
But, in a swift reaction, the factional members of the church said the court judgment “only nullified the suspension alleged or complained by Rev. Anyanwu but did not nullify his dismissal as district superintendent and expulsion as a member.”
The faction, led by Rev. Hyacinth Ngene, maintained that Rev. Anyanwu “never challenged his dismissal as the district superintendent rather, he challenged his suspension in court stating that he was not giving fair hearing, that is to say rather than challenging his dismissal and expulsion.”
Rev. Ngene, who vowed to appeal against the judgment of the FCT High Court, alleged that Rev. Nicholas Anyanwu “Deceived the Church by claiming that he is a graduate with degree and fraudulently stood in for an election and emerged as District Superintendent.
According to a statement signed by Rev. Ngene, “Shortly after election, there was a petition to the General Council led by Rev. Chidi Okoroafor against Rev. Anyanwu over the alleged academic qualification.
“Upon receiving the petition, the general council sent the petition to Rev. Anyanwu for him to respond. He refused to respond to the petition, when the time given to him to respond expired, the general council set up a panel to thoroughly investigate the matter.
The panel, according to the statement, invited Rev. Nicholas Anyanwu in their meeting to come and clarify himself but he failed to show up.
“Having failed to answer the panel, the general council suspended him. When the panel submitted their report and it was established that Rev. Anyanwu deceived the church and disobeyed the constitution of the church, he was dismissed as the district superintendent and ex- communicated as a member of the Church in line with the constitution of Assemblies of God Church.”
In his judgment, Justice O. A. Musa had equally voided the subsequent oral public announcement through the various pastors of the Assemblies of God churches in Abuja on May 18, 2014 of Rev. Anyanwu’s as the district superintendent of Abuja district of the church as illegal, unconstitutional, null, void and of no legal effect whatsoever.
The judge, who delivered the judgment equally declared the allegations of mismanagement of funds, stealing or conversion of N300 million church funds by Rev. Anyanwu constituted criminal offences for which he ought to be arraigned and tried by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Justice Musa who delivered judgment in the fundamental enforcement suit brought by Rev. Nicholas Anyanwu, declared that by the provisions of section 36(1) of the 1999, the offences of mismanagement of funds, stealing and /or conversion of church funds and such other criminal offences as alleged by the respondents against him are not triable by an administrative panel of inquiry or investigative panel as set up by the respondents to try him, but are triable only by a tribunal or court of competent jurisdiction set up by law.
The court equally declared that the act of the respondents in constituting an investigative panel to investigate /try the allegation of mismanagement of funds, stealing and /or conversion of church funds and such other criminal offences, triable only by a tribunal or court of competent jurisdiction is illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.
Those named as Respondents in the suit marked FCT/HC/CV/1889/2014 has Rev. Chidi Okoroafor; Rev. Hyacinth Ngene; Rev. Tony Ese; Rev. Godwin Agada; Rev. Ugwu; Rev. Asuata; Rev. Adoga; Rev. Amaowoh; Rev. Anyimson; Rev. Mbe; Rev. John Ikoni and Bob James.
The above-named Respondents have all been ordered to pay the sum of N2 million in favour of Rev. Anyanwu as damages for the malicious publication titled “Disclaimer ” purportedly publicly dismissing him as a minister and member of the Assemblies of God Church of Nigeria, in flagrant breach of his fundamental right to fair hearing as enshrined and guaranteed by Section 36 of the 1999 constitution.
The court threw out the submissions of the Respondents against the suit after holding, “In my humble considered view, the applicant has indeed proved it’s case in support to his application.
“To that end, therefore, I disagreed with the whole submissions of the respondents and dismiss same, and therefore entered judgement for the applicant and the whole orders sought in the motion on notice paper brought by the Applicant pursuant to order 2 Rules 1, 2, 3 and 5 of the fundamental right enforcement procedure 2009.”
Reacting to the judgement, an elated Rev. Anyanwu had sued for peace and unity among members of the church.