BY: Iniabasi Umo
The Akwa Ibom State Government has sealed the Headquarters of Christ Embassy Church in Uyo for attacking the COVID-19 Church compliance monitoring team. In a statement signed by Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, Secretary to the Akwa Ibom State Government and Chairman of COVID-19 Management Committee, and made available to newsmen in Uyo, the Church was sealed for obstructing, attacking and brutalizing members of the monitoring team.
Ekuwem stated that the sealing of the Church was due to acts of lawlessness, and was with immediate effect till further notice, adding that it was also in order to avoid the risk of community transmission of COVID-19. He said the pastors and members involved in the attack would be made to face the wrath of the law.
“Today, Sunday 21 June, 2020, the Akwa Ibom State Government and Christian Association of Nigeria ( CAN) Monitoring Team, while on a routine compliance/inspection visit to the Christ Embassy Church, Nung Akpa Ime branch, State House of Assembly Road, off Nsikak Eduok Avenue to enforce the Akwa Ibom State government/Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)/World Health Organisation (WHO)/Christian Association (CAN) Guidelines and Protocols adopted to prevent community spreading of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic in Akwa Ibom State, were obstructed, attacked and brutalized by the Pastors and some members of the church. “In response to this act of lawlessness by that church and in order to avoid the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 in Akwa Ibom State, the Christ Embassy Church building and premises are hereby sealed up with immediate effect till further notice.
“The suspected Pastors and relevant members of the church will be made to face the wrath of the law,” the release said. It was gathered that when the monitoring committee enforcing the guidelines for Church reopening arrived the Church on Sunday morning at about 11am, some men prevented the committee from gaining access to the Church premises. Over six men were said to have blocked the access gate which was locked with padlock, and told the monitoring team to leave, insisting that they would not be allowed to enter the Church. It was learnt that appeals made by the leader of the monitoring team, Mr Enobong Uwah, and other members including the State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Dr. Ndueso Ekwerre and others were rebuffed by the Church. The committee was said to have left the Church after a heated argument with the Church officials with a promise to report the incident to the appropriate authorities. Following government’s approval of CAN guidelines for the reopening of Churches in the State, Pastor of Christ Embassy headquarters in Uyo, Pastor Emmanuel Effiong, had rejected the guidelines, saying they were impracticable and unacceptable. In a media briefing held at the church headquarters in Uyo, the Pastor said CAN’s agreement with the government on the re-opening of Churches would not be binding on members of the church, as the Church was not a member of CAN or any of her five affiliate bodies.