(Emmanuel Ogoigbe, WARRI)
Nigerian Army 3rd battalion, Effrurun, allegedly invaded the Assemblies of God Church, Glory branch in Warri at No. 15 Itii Street off Aka Avenue, Effurun last Sunday while service was going on.
Daily Sun gathered that the soldiers were invited by a breakaway group leader of the same church. A source claimed the soldiers came in two patrol vans to harass and drive worshippers away.
According to an eyewitness, the soldiers came in commando-style while the church was in session and made an order that the church be closed down immediately or worshipers would be made to regret their action for disobeying the order.
‘‘We had no option than to obey the military order to protect our lives (so) everybody scampered away through the windows and back doors from the church for safety,” the source said.
Aggrieved members of the church during a press conference with the media yesterday narrated their ordeal at the hands of soldiers.
Rev. Ogwuche Blessing Bamaiyi, the district secretary of Assemblies of God Warri, confirmed the incidence, saying “There has been power tussle at the headquarters of the church between Rev. Professor Paul Emeka, the general superintendent, and his deputy Rev. Dr. Chidi Okoroafor since 6th March, 2014.”
According to Rev. Ogwuche:
‘‘The national leadership crisis crept into the states and various branches where the church divided into two factions, both factions led by the two warring leaders. In Warri, the factions have affected worshipers as they are loyal to their preferred factions. But in Warri, our branch, Glory branch is with the original Assemblies of God led by Rev. Prof. Paul Emeka. But the fake Assemblies of God faction led by Rev. Chidi Okoroafor has made everything possible to compel us to support his faction.”
Rev. Ogwuche and other members of the church who attended the press conference accused another pastor of the church Rev. Friday Onoriode Amirah of frequently using thugs and military men to attack and harass worshipers in their branch in order to compel them to support Rev. Chidi Okoroafor’s faction.
They appealed to the authorities to call the 3rd Battalion soldiers to order for harassing and chasing their members away from service at gun point.
Meanwhile, when Daily Sun called the Commanding officer of 3rd battalion Barrack, Lt. Col. Igwe P. Moke, to state their side of the matter, the Commanding Officer promised to get back to the press after a proper investigation.