African Church Leaders Take Battle To Court


The leadership crisis rocking the First African Church Mission, Oyingbo, Lagos, Nigeria has taken a turn for the worse, as the Board of Trustees of the church and the Primate, Most Reverend Emmanuel Olabode Koya, have filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Lagos seeking to restrain the former officers of the church from parading themselves as officers of the church.

The defendants are Archbishop Stanley Nyekpeye, who was the Archbishop of the mission, until his dismissal in February this year; Mr. Sola Aina, who was replaced as the representative of the Bariga-Lagos branch of the church; Engr. Shola Taylor, the parishioner at Shallom Cathedral, who, they alleged, was parading himself as the General Secretary of the mission, Chief Olayinka Williams Taiwo, a former BOT member, which has been dissolved; Dr. Olatunde Awofeso, who was the Vice Chairman of the BOT until it was dissolved on 20 November, 2009 and Dr. Yesufu Oba Iyashere, who was the Registrar of the mission and Secretary-General of the dissolved BOT.

A statement of claim filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by a Lagos lawyer, Adewale Adesokan, blamed the current crisis in the church on the changes made in the constitution of the mission.

The plaintiffs alleged that Chief Olayinka Williams Taiwo, a former BOT member who came into office under the 2006 constitution wanted to head the council along with headship of the BOT, at all costs, by enlisting vocal members of six or seven churches in three dioceses of Lagos, Edo and North Central.

The proposed amendments to Section 5 of the Constitution were passed by consensus but when the council got to Section 6, the proposed amendment was overwhemingly supported by delegates that the status quo be maintained. Though a total of 82 amendments were proposed, but they were more cosmetic as the main object of amendment to the constitution of the church was Section 6 which deals with the leadership of the council.

Consequently, the fourth defendant, Chief Olayinka Williams Taiwo, realising that a vote on the matter will defeat the proposed amendment, decided to stage a walk-out with 27 supporters out of 110 delegates.

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Since then, all meetings held have always ended in a deadlock, especially the meeting on 20 November, 2009. The Elders Forum of the mission raised a number of peace committees to resolve the crisis but their effort did not yield any result.

In view of this, the plaintiffs urged the court to issue an order restraining the defendants and their agents from parading themselves as officers of the church.

The plaintiffs also prayed the court to declare null and void all the actions taken by the defendants as officers of the church, individually or jointly.

Meanwhile, the defendants have filed their objections in the matter.

The presiding judge, Justice Ikechukwu Okeke has adjourned hearing in the matter till a later date.

—Akin Kuponiyi

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