Clergymen from the Apostolic Christian Church Mission took to the street of Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State to protest the sealing of the church’s headquarters on 34 Omuma road Aba.
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu had ordered the shutting of the church headquarters following a protracted leadership tussle rocking the church.
The order was contained in a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Chris Ezem, dated December 31, 2022.
The protesting clergymen who appeared in their cassocks, sang gospel songs while marching through the Osisioma flyover to the governor’s lodge to lay their complaint.
Some of them displayed placards with several inscriptions, including “Ikpeazu should open the national headquarters of ACCM”, “ACCM does not support tribalism, Let governor Ikpeazu unseal the headquarters of ACCM”.
The spokesmen of the church, Apostle Christopher Ogbuagu and Rev Ugochukwu Onugha, accused Ikpeazu of allegedly trying to influence the leadership of the church to favour his Kinsmen.
The duo, who admitted that there was an ongoing leadership crisis in the church which is currently before the Owerri division of the Court of Appeal wondered, why the governor took interest in the matter as a nonmember of the church.
According to the statement by the group read, “There is a tiny minority of the church elders mostly politicians who incidentally are relatives of the Governor of Abia state Okezie Ikpeazu who wants to foist an unpopular Bishop over the church due to the death of the former Bishop.
“Also two other senior Apostles who were next in line; the financial secretary of the church who is not a career missionary of the church rose up and is receiving the support of the governor’s kinsmen and political allies; led by Chief Theo Nkire, who was one time Attorney general of Abia state and Elder Godwin Nna, who was one-time commissioner and local government chairman; whereas the next in line is a career missionary by name Rev Apostle John U Esinna; the financial secretary’s name is Apostle P C Erondu. Over 98% of members and clergy are behind the leadership of Rev J.U Esinna, the tiny minority led by theo Nkire are using every means possible to impose P C Erondu on the church.
“The matter is even before the court of Appeal Owerri and rather than the Theo Nkire ‘s group to be patient and law-abiding and await the verdict of the Court of Appeal they have resorted to all means possible to arm-twist the church and their latest move was to get the Governor to shut down the church headquarters to put fear into the members who are against his kinsmen.
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“He even declared the leaders of the pro-Esnna group wanted in the state-controlled radio station calling them criminals. The entire clergy are now fed up with the continued involvement and interference and intimidation by the Governor of Abia state, thus embarked on a peaceful protest.
“The idea is to draw the attention of the public to the meddling of the state governor in a church matter that is even before the court of Appeal and trying to intimidate the church into accepting a nonclergy as their Bishop because his relatives and political allies are involved and to inform the world that should any harm come to any of our leaders that the governor should be held responsible and that he should hand off the church.”