By SEYE OJO
Following some reports that the former Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Lagos, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Revd. Adebola Ademowo, was retired based on some serious allegations, the Chairman, House of Laity of the church, Justice Babasola Ogunade, said the information was untrue. He told Daily Sun in Lagos yesterday that Ademowo’s tenure as the Archbishop expired in January, saying another person has to take over from him, insisting that Ademowo was not retired as widely speculated.
While saying that Ademowo spent two terms as the Archbishop, Ogunade, who is the chancellor of the Diocese of Lagos West of the church disclosed that the constitution of the church stipulated that no Archbishop should spend more than two terms of five years each in office. According to him, Ademowo’s tenure first term expired in 2007 and the second term expired this month.
The church, he said, had elected a replacement for him since September 2012, in Ado-Ekiti. He said the election was done in line with the church’s constitution, which stated that a new Archbishop must be elected three months before the tenure of the incumbent expired, adding that some other Archbishops were also elected during the meeting. Ogunade averred that Ademowo did not forfeit his position as the Dean of the church because he was removed, but because his tenure as Archbishop expired. He noted that it was only an Archbishop for an Ecclesiastical Province that could occupy the position of Dean, which was the second in command in the hierarchy of the church.
His words: “The Church of Nigeria is one unit but we have it in divisions. We have the national officers, which is made up of the Primate, the Ecclesiastical Archbishops, the Bishops, the Lay Officers, General Secretary. They all derive their titles and positions from the constitution and cannons of the Church of Nigeria. The one we are using now was made in 2002, which has since been amended. “As we have the Church of Nigeria as one body, so also the church is split into Ecclesiastical Provinces. Then, under the Ecclesiastical Provinces, we have the Dioceses. Each Ecclesiastical Provinces is headed by an Archbishop. The Archbishop is elected by the House of Bishops. “When he is elected, he has a tenure of five years in the first place. When his five years run out, he may be re-elected for another five years and when the five years expired, another person will be elected.” Ogunade maintained that Ademowo’s first term in office expired in 2007 and he was re-elected for another term of five years, which should end this month.
He said the current Bishop of the Diocese of Lagos Mainland, Right Revd. Adebayo Akinde was elected during a meeting of the standing committee of the church in Ado-Ekiti in September 2012 as the new archbishop for the Ecclesiastical Province of Lagos. Ogunade explained that the retreat held by the bishops, Archbishops and the Primate of the church in Agbarha-Otor sometimes in January, this year, was not attended by any layman. He said no Archbishop was elected at the retreat but new diocesan bishops to replace the bishops who were due for retirement.
After the retreat in Agbarha-Otor, he said the priests moved to Asaba where the new Ecclesiastical Archbishops were formally presented to the church on Saturday, January 12, this year. He insisted that no new Archbishop or bishop emerged last Saturday. “On the retreat, the bishops met in January this year at Agbarha-Otor in Warri. They met there for their annual retreat. At the retreat, the bishops know what they did there because no layman met with them there. But I know that they did not elect any archbishop there.” They did an election there but it was for the bishops of dioceses and those new bishops are to replace the bishops who are retiring. “What happened on Saturday was not at Ilesha either, it was at Asaba. After the retreat at Agbarha-Otor, they went to Asaba to do the presentation of the new archbishops. It was not only the archbishop of Lagos Province alone that was presented. The new archbishops of Ibadan and Orlu were also presented.
They were all elected in September,” he said. Ogunade stated that some of the serving archbishops were re-elected at the meeting in September last year because they have rights to be re-elected for the second terms and have not attained the statutory age of 70 for retirement. According to him, the new Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Lagos, Right Revd. Akinde would come back to the Diocese of Lagos Mainland, Ebutte-Meta where he would have his seat. Akinde would hold a thanksgiving service at the Cathedral of St. Jude Ebutte-Meta on January 27. He said Ademowo became the Dean of the Church of Nigeria by the virtue of the constitution of the church and because the former Dean, Most Revd. Michael S. C. Anikwenwa, retired after attaining the statutory age of 70.