From Musa Solomon Yola
How did men wearing military uniforms get drawn into the protracted crisis rocking the Assemblies of God Church in Yola, Adamawa State?
This is the puzzle the Nigerian Army has to unravel as it initiates investigations into how soldiers on Sunday morning invaded the church and disrupted an on-going church service in Jimeta -Yola, the Adamawa state capital.
The pastor of the affected, church Rev. Patrick G. Waziri, told journalists Monday in Yola that soldiers and policemen invaded the church premises located behind St. Theresa’s Catholic primary school at about 10 am, blocking the entrance of the church with their vehicles and denying members access to the church.
“Soldiers and police invaded my church on Sunday morning and disrupted the church service that was going on, it is a pity that soldiers will allow themselves to be used for unlawful duty, if it is only police, yes it is normal for them to take care of internal crisis to avoid breakdown of law and order, but for soldiers we don’t know how constitutionally they are involved in an in-house crisis of a church. It is an embarrassment to the image of our military that people can (bring) soldiers for an illegal operation,” he stated.
Spokesman of 32 Amoured Brigade, Yola, Major Adamu Yahaya Ngulde, confirmed that the command received the complaint of what he described as an illegal operation and that the command has set up an investigation panel to uncover the soldiers that carried out such illegal duty.
Ngulde said that the man the took the soldiers to the church will first be arrested to give the command the details of the soldiers he took to the church for the illegal duty and that serious action will be taken against those that were involved.
“For those soldiers that are gambling with their jobs I want to warn that any soldier that a civilian reported a case to him and he takes the laws into his hand to go and pass judgment is gambling with his job. If any civilian has a complaint he should go to police station and not military, so the civilian that hires soldiers is also in trouble if the matter is reported to military authority,” he stated.
Pastor Waziri alleged that a leader of the church, who belongs to Pastor Chidi Okoroafor faction of the church brought the soldiers and threatened to return next Sunday to cause more havoc if the station pastor, Mr. Waziri, refuses to handover to him.
Tracing the renewed crisis to the recent Supreme Court judgment, Waziri, in his interpretation of the judgment, said that the court did not ask the general overseer Professor Paul Emeka, to vacate, but directed the two warring factions to go back and resolve the matter since it a church problem.
Pastor Waziri who belongs to the Enugu-based Professor Emeka’s faction said that some of the branches of the church in Adamawa state are under the control of the Okoroafor faction, but that 85 percent of Assemblies of God church in the state are under the control of Prof. Emeka group.
When the faction leader of the Okoroafor faction in the state, Mr. Thomas Taro, was contacted, he said , ” I cannot talk to journalists without permission from my boss, Pastor Okoroafor. My concern is to use security to get what I want ,so I cannot talk to you journalists on this matter.”
The army pointed out that the soldiers that invaded the church were not from the 32 Amoured Brigade, adding that the formation will arrest the soldiers that were involved and their sponsor to serve as deterrent to all soldiers and civilians that are in the habit of using soldiers to settle personal scores.