Drama as Pastors deny Church, members to evade arrest - SALIENT TIMES ONLINE

Drama as Pastors deny Church, members to evade arrest

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Drama ensued yesterday as three Pastors of some new generation churches denied their ministries and members after operatives of the Federal Capital Territory COVID-19 Ministerial Enforcement Team made attempt to arrest them for violating the Federal Government’s ban on all religious gatherings.

Trouble started when the Enforcement team on COVID-19 Restrictions stormed the area following a tip off, but found it difficult to identify worshippers and their religious leaders.

The Pastors who had partitioned a mountain at the Federal Housing area of Lugbe District traded words among themselves and even denied stewardship of the large crowd met worshipping at the hilltop.

After a brief interrogation, the three pastors were identified as Ibitoye Kayode of the Liberty Faith Gospel Church, Joshua Olaniru of Liberty Gate Ministry and Vitalis Udeazi of Dominion Chapel.

Despite attempts to conceal his identity, Vitalis Udeazi of Dominion Chapel, insisted that none of his members were present at the time the taskforce arrived the mountain top.

The denial resulted in a protest from the other pastors, even as some of his members identified him as their pastor.

For Joshua Olaniru of Liberty Gate Ministry, who argued that he was not among those holding worship session, a resident of the community availed the taskforce of a video clip which showed the cleric holding a worship session, a development which had led to a fight about an hour before the taskforce personnel arrived.

Addressing the pastors, the Chairman of the taskforce, Ikharo Attah queried why they all had to deny their followers.

“Why are you all denying these large groups of worshippers? No one among you agreed that anyone came to worship with them even when they turned out in large numbers. One of you even went ahead to deny being a pastor.”

In a similar development, another cleric, Pastor Effiong Bassey of the Holiness Revival Ministry Church, Karamajiji was apprehended for holding a church service to mark the 60th birthday of a retired military colonel, P.E Ebong who left the military in 2015.

Addressing the Pastor, Attah said, “you cannot hold a worship service in defiance of the directives of the Commander in Chief just to mark the 60th birthday of a retired colonel. Even for a serving colonel it is very wrong. You have to come with us and explain it to the magistrate at the mobile court”.

The Clerics were consequently arraigned before a Mobile Court presided over by Magistrate Akonni who found them guilty and fined them N5,000 each in addition to three hours of community service.

The team also shut down the informal sector at the Dutse Alhaji market which was fully in operation on Sunday in contravention of the Administration’s guidelines. Four traders were arrested and arraigned at the Mobile court.