After more than two years of intractable dispute, St Mathews Anglican Church, Nkpogu, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, of the Diocese of Niger Delta North, was today sealed off indefinitely by the Police.
This was on the orders of the Board of Trustees of the Diocese. A detachment of the Rivers Police Command and other detectives carried out the exercise.
Before that drama, the Most Rev.Ignatius C.O.Kattey, the Archbishop of Niger Delta Province and also Bishop of Niger Delta North had presided over today’s Special Diocesan Pentecostal.
It is also known in Anglican calendar as Pentecostal or White Sunday service. Archbishop Kattey preached the last sermon, taken from Acts of the Apostles, harping on the power of the Holy Ghost in the lives of Christians.
Emeka Ichokwu, a Lawyer and Chancellor for the Niger Delta North Diocese, briefed the congregation which had all the team of Clergymen, Diocesan officials drawn from all Churches in the Diocese, Knights and their Ladies.
He said that all attempts to settle the problem in the Church had been resisted by a clique within it.
The Chancellor explained how the group made it impossible for any pastor posted there to function unless he danced its tune.
He gave instances when this clique mobilized and manipulated youths to physically manhandle an Archdeacon and Venerable posted to the church.
Ichokwu said attempts to discipline the members of the clique were resisted.
The Diocesan Chancellor narrated how the clique dragged the Niger Delta North Diocese to Court.
It directed that the case should be settled out of court and that within the period, another pastor be deployed to church.
“In obedience to the court order, Venerable John Adubasim who was posted to man the church was prevented from using the Vestry.
Worse still, he was not allowed to wear his robe there to officiate in church. Adubasim would drive into the church premises, wear his robe in his car and officiate in the church. After officiating he would be led out the way he came.”
“Within the two years the disputes lasted, committees and panels were set up to resolve the issues.
The aggrieved persons made oral and written presentations. A special Synod that was held to resolve the crisis was met with stiff opposition.
“At various times, attempts were made to breach the law and provoke violence but for calm and fatherly disposition of the Archbishop who kept preaching peace and peaceful resolution, the level of provocation would have led to loss of lives and property,” Ichokwu said.
He announced: “Sequel to the decision of the Board of Trustees of the Diocese of Niger Delta North of the Anglican Church and the Powers conferred on it by law, the St Mathews Anglican Church, Nkpogu, ceases to be a place of worship until further notice.
The decision has been communicated to the Police and all the security agencies have been directed to seal off the church.”
Immediately after the Archbishop gave the benediction outside the Western Door of the Church, some senior police officers provided security wall around him as members of the congregation hurried home.
A clique that wanted to control the resources, independent of the control of the diocese, manipulated the congregation by introducing doctrines that were at variance with Anglican’s. This is one of the roots of the problem.