It is no longer news that on the 24th of February 2017,the Supreme Court will deliver its Judgement on the crises that had rocked Assemblies Of God Nigeria since 2014,the General Committee of the Church,Suspended its then General Superintendent Rev Paul Emeka for violating several Sections of the Constitution.
It is important for me to remind you that Paul Emeka Instituted two Suits against the Church before his Brother Justice Anthony Onovo of the Enugu High Court.
Paul Emeka approached the Enugu High Court through suit No. E/82/2014 and while that suit was still pending he filed suit No. E/202M/2014 for the enforcement of his fundamental rights.
The Court of Appeal decided among other things that the substantive complaints which Paul Emeka presented at theEnugu High Court do not qualify for the application for fundamental rights enforcement. The Court of Appeal also agreed that Paul Emeka created the situation which resulted in his suspension and dismissal from Assemblies Of God Nigeria.
Paul Emeka was a member of the Assemblies of God Church Nigeria which is duly registered under statute with perpetual succession. The Church has its registered constitution and bye – laws which regulate its activities including but not limited to the functions of its organs, offices and officers as well as the inter-actions between its members.
The Church is purely a voluntary religious organization to which membership cannot be compelled by a court. The right and freedom of any person to associate by belonging to the church exists side by side with the right of other members of the church not to associate with that person. The effect is that membership and association within Assemblies Of God Nigeria is purely determined by mutual agreement arising from their sharing common principles and persuasion.
In the course of his membership of the church the Appellant was ordained a priest of the church and was ultimately elected the General Superintendent of the church in November, 2010 for a term of four (4) years. The duties and functions of that office of General Superintendent are set out in the constitution of the church which also made provisions for the discipline of its officers without exception. The church was never incorporated or registered as a sole proprietorship. No officer or office of the church was vested with absolute powers or authority.
Allegations were made against Rev Paul Emeka by some members, officers and offices of the church who demanded for a meeting between him and other members of the church to resolve the issues. But Rev Paul Emeka considered it to be too condescending for him to accede to those requests.
Paul Emeka declined the opportunities which were offered for those complaints to be deliberated upon. He insisted on dealing with the issues absolutely on his own terms. . Events ultimately led to his suspension and his dismissal from the church in 2014,but Paul Emekais claiming that his adversaries hail from Abia and Imo State,in clear terms that Abia and Imo State People does not want him to be General Superintendent of Assemblies Of God Nigeria.
But the questions Paul Emeka has refused to answer is wether or not those Abia and Imo State People elected him in 2010,
The alleged breach of Paul Emeka right to fair hearing is founded on his refusal to yield to the invitation to discuss and deal with the complaints of the members of the Church because he insisted that as the General Superintendent of the church he was not amenable to discipline by the members which is contrary to the provisions of the Constitution of Assemblies Of God Nigeria.
Its so natural for some Pastors and members to be tensed over the pending Judgement of the Supreme Court,but ny enlightened mind will believe with me that Paul Emeka,s Appeal before the Supreme Court is an academic excercise.
The Court of Appeal in PETERSIDE VS IMB (NIG) LTD  2 NWLR (Pt. 278) 712 held that the fundamental Rights Enforcement Proceedings must be limited to the enforcement of those rights listed in chapter IV of the Constitution and does not extend to enforcement of right to remain in employment which is not even a constitutional right.
The Supreme Court has held in several cases including BAKARE VS L.S.C.S.C  8 NWLR (Pt. 262) 641at 171 A – C. that the case Paul Emeka instituted at the Enugu High Court is incompetent because the alleged breaches of fundamental rights flowed from his main complaint which is a claim for wrongful dismissal. In that case the Supreme Court emphasized the limited frontiers of chapter IV of the Constitution. Justice Anthony Onovo who Presided over the case noted and stated on the very first time the matter came before him as suit No, E/202M/2014 as follows:-
“I have gone through the processes filed. I feel this application equally relates to a previous suit which is also pending in this court over the crisis that has in recent past rocked the Assemblies of God Church, Nigeria”.
It is worthy of note that Justice Anthony Onovo manifested full information and material on record to warn Rev Paul Emeka that what he brought before him was not a competent application for fundamental rights enforcement.
February 24th 2017 is by the corner,on that day,people will understand the truth behind this Piece.
To be Continued……
Promise Uzoma Okoro is a Member of Assemblies Of God Nigeria.
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