How Supreme Court settled Assemblies Of God Church Leadership Tussle

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THE LONG drawn legal battle in the Assembly of God Church
over the sacking of its Former General Superintendent, Rev Dr Paul Emeka was last week resolved in favour of the Church by the Supreme
Court.

The apex court dismissed the appeal brought before it by the ex General Superintendent Rev Paul Emeka on the ground that his case lacked merit and substance.

In the lead judgment delivered by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, the
court held that it was wrong of Pastor Emeka to have instituted an action on the enforcement of his
fundamental human right to association in a matter involving the Church as a non-governmental organization. Justice Kekere-Ekun said that the provision of fundamental human right
as enshrined in section 36 of the 1999 constitution did not cover a Pastor sacked and expelled by a church.
“Being a pastor, General Superintendent and member of a church
is not a fundamental right as envisaged in the 1999 constitution.

The remedy for the removal of the appellant as a pastor, General Superintendent and a member of the
respondent does not fall within section 36 because the right to be a pastor is not a constitutional one”
Besides,the apex court in the unanimous judgment agreed that the appellant failed to serve the originating summon on the respondents as required by law. Specifically, the Supreme Court held that it was wrong of the appellant to have at the trial level, served his originating summon on No. 5, Mbalano Street Enugu, in Enugu State when the order of the Enugu High court was so specific and categorical  that the court process must be served on Evangel House of the Church in Enugu.

The apex court held that the case of wrongful service of originating summon was made clear in an
affidavit deposed to by a court bailiff in Enugu that he served originating summon on one Shedrack Lawrence through one Richard Ake when the Enugu High Court ordered that the summon must be taken to the Evangel House of the Church.

The court said that in the eyes of the law, the originating summon was not served on the appropriate
party as required by law, hence the respondent cannot be held liable since the issue of service is a
fundamental one in law.

The apex court therefore dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit. The appellant had sued the General Council of the Assemblies of God Church seeking enforcement of his fundamental right to membership of the church, its pastoral and General Superintendent.

Now that the leadership crises rocking the church has been laid to rest, can the operatives of the Nigerian Police Force do the needful by creating the enabling environment for the leadership of the church to take full charge and control of both the church and it’s property?

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