Supreme Court Judgement On Assemblies Of God and the Perverse Interpretation Of It By Paul Emeka
The Assemblies of God, Nigeria is the foremost Pentecostal Church in Nigeria that came to Nigeria in the 1930s. It became autonomous upon arrival into the Country. The leadership usually emerges through election by delegates and certain categories of pastors. They do not have any position for General Overseer or a position for “one man show” so to speak. The structure of the Church is as follows; the Church, Section, District, Executive Committee and General Committee and General Council in that order.
The highest organ of the church is the Council in Session which holds every 4 years. The day to day administration of the church is piloted by the 4 (four) man Committee comprising the General Superintendent, Assistant General Superintendent, General Secretary and General Treasurer. These are part of the large Executive Committee membership comprising from all the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria.
The General Committee is an organ that is conveyed whenever there is an intractable problem that the Executive Committee can not resolve or whenever there is a crisis within the said Executive Committee that is not resolvable by them.
Rev. Paul Emeka was elected as the General Superintendent in year 2010 and immediately he was sworn in, he started to behave as a General Overseer (One man church) in clear disregard to the Constitution and Bye laws of the Church. He carried out activities without tabling it before the Executive Committee Members. He became power drunk started disbursing and misapplying the monies of the church in most cases in utter disregard to laid down principles of the church. He insisted on being addressed as a Professor even when he was not qualified to be so addressed. That criminal act is being redressed in a court in Abuja. He surrounded himself with bootlickers and praise singers contrary to the age-long tradition of Assemblies of God, Nigeria known for truth and integrity.
When he could not agree with the rest of the Executive Committee Members on several issues including undue interference in dissolution of bodies and sacking of workers, the body of Ambassadors, respected elders of the church intervened to sort things out. He snubbed them and refused every entreaty to see them. There was a total breakdown of communication within the Executive Committee rank. This ugly scenario lingered for several months which became public knowledge. All attempt by elders, seasoned retired Ministers to resolves the issues met a brick wall. Finally, the requisite number of members and pastors requested for the convocation of the General Committee whose responsibility it is under the constitution to resolve intractable problem which arise from the Executive Committee. He was duly invited but like every previous attempts by bodies and human beings to have him listen to reason failed on deaf ears, he snubbed the invitation and rather procured proxies to sue the church. The truth was that he used his name personally to institute the suit initially but when he realized the implication as a General Superintendent of the church, he abandoned the suit and used three conies to later sue the church. He sought for an injunction to restrain the convening of the General Committee of the church. The State High Court asked him to put the church on notice. At the General Committee, the acts of the Executive Committee Members were reviewed and put into proper perspective. At the end of the deliberations, coupled with the fact that there was evidence that he actually went to court against the church, the August Body applied the provision of the Constitution and Bye-Laws of the church which prescribed dismissal for such a pastor.
Accordingly, he was dismissed as the General Superintendent and suspended as a member of the church. It was this dismissal as a General Superintendent and suspension from membership that Rev Paul Emeka challenged in court.
In the year 2014 Rev. Paul Emeka filed a Motion on Notice seeking for the enforcement of his alleged Fundamental Human Rights. Part of the relief he sought include as follows;
1. A Declaration that the meeting held by the church on 6th March, 2014 purportedly as a meeting of the General Committee of the Assemblies of God to determine allegations made against him Rev Paul Emeka was illegal and unconstitutional, the same not having been properly convened and constituted in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and Bye-laws of Assemblies of God, Nigeria, 2002 and in contravention of the rights of him to peaceful exercise of the duties of his office as General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, Nigeria enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria (As amended).
2. A Declaration that the proceedings and decisions of the said purported meeting of the General Committee of Assemblies of God, Nigeria culminating in a purported dismissal and suspension of Rev Paul Emeka is null and void, the proceeding having been reached in contravention of the Rules of Natural Justice and Rev Paul Emeka’s rights under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As amended).
3. A Declaration that Rev Paul Emeka’s alleged dismissal from the Ministry and suspension as a member of the Assemblies of God, Nigeria is in contravention of his right to fair hearing as secured under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As amended).
4. A Declaration that the Purported dismissal and suspension of the applicant allegedly for the reason inter alia that Rev Paul Emeka sued the church to Court is in contravention of Rev Paul Emeka’s right of access to Court and fair hearing as enshrined in Section 6 (6) and 36 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As amended).
5. An Order of injunction restraining the Church, their servants, agents, privies, cohorts by themselves or through any person(s) whomsoever from interfering with or obstructing Rev Paul Emeka in the peaceful performance of the duties, functions and obligations of his office as General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, Nigeria and the enjoyment of all the rights, privileges, benefits, remunerations and prerequisites of the said office, or from exercising his rights as a Minister and member of Assemblies of God, Nigeria.
6. An Order of N500M for general damages for Rev Paul Emeka against the Church jointly and severally for various breaches and threats of Rev Paul Emeka’s fundamental rights.
At the State High Court injunctive orders were made exparte against the Church while the substantive application was adjourned to the following day being 17/4/2014 for hearing.
The Church meanwhile filed an application seeking the following orders;
1. Setting aside the service of the originating process as having been served improperly;
2. Setting aside the injunctive and restraining orders made exparte against the church;
3. Striking out the suit for want of competence.
The State High Court in a ruling on 11/12/14 refused the application to set aside the service of the originating process. He also overruled the objection challenging the competence of the suit and granted all the reliefs of Rev Paul Emeka and awarded 30 million costs against the church.
This Ruling set the journey to the Appellate Courts up to Supreme Court. Meanwhile based upon this questionable ruling of the State High Court, Rev Paul Emeka refused to vacate the Headquarters of Assemblies of God, Nigeria at Enugu. He employed men of questionable character to unleash terror on churches in the East, South-South and Northern States who refused to accept him as the General Superintendent of Assemblies of God, Nigeria. He also refused to vacate the property owned by Assemblies of God, Nigeria where he occupies; he formed a parallel Church, Sections, Districts and General Council with few dissidents by causing confusion in the entire Assemblies of God, Nigeria.
Assemblies of God, Nigeria towed the line of civility, peace and maturity by appealing against the ruling of the State High Court in Enugu on 14/4/2015. The Appeal Court Enugu allowed the Appeal and set aside the judgment of the trial Court for being a nullity. The Court held that Rev Paul Emeka’s suit was incompetent and that the trial Court at Enugu lacked the jurisdiction to have entertained it in the first place. Rev Paul Emeka’s suit was accordingly struck out.
Rev Paul Emeka used all manner of propaganda to discredit that judgment and subsequently appealed to Supreme Court. We moved to take over our Secretariat but was prevailed upon by then IG Arase that since Rev Paul Emeka has appealed that we should allow the appellate process to be exhausted.
While the appeal at the Supreme Court was pending, Rev Paul Emeka exhausted all arsenal of violence on the churches of AG scattered all over Nigeria. He boasted that he will defeat AG, Nigeria at the Supreme Court and threatened to deal with everyone that called him to order while he was the General Superintendent.
While Rev Paul Emeka and his few followers sew clothes to celebrate their anticipated victory on the 24th of February, 2017 against Assemblies of God, Nigeria, God thought otherwise and in a well considered unanimous judgment of 5 man panel of the Supreme Court, the Appeal of Rev Paul Emeka was dismissed and the Supreme Court upheld the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Enugu which held that the suit of Rev Paul Emeka was incompetent and a nullity. The suit was struck out for lack of competence.
What is baffling in all these is that, Rev Paul Emeka have been deceiving his few followers that the Supreme Court judgment declared him as the substantive General Superintendent of AG Nigeria, that his suspension and dismissal by the General council of AG Nigeria was a nullity and unconstitutional.
Gentlemen of the press, I will forward to your emails the judgment of the Supreme Court delivered on the 24th of February, 2017. You need to ask which judgment is Rev Paul Emeka and his lawyers interpreting? The one read by the Supreme Court justices or the one he procured from God’s knows where?
More intriguing is the foot dragging and prevarication of the Nigerian Police to evict Rev Paul Emeka from the Secretariat of AG Nigeria. We would have taken possessions of all our properties in his custody all this while but for the intervention of the Nigerian Police Authorities who advised the church to allow the Supreme Court to deliver their judgment. Now that this judgment has been delivered dismissing the appeal of Rev Paul Emeka what appellate options are the Police waiting for Rev Paul Emeka to exhaust before they will do the needful. Are the Nigerians Police under the present IG encouraging us as a church to use force to evict Rev Paul Emeka from the church’s property?
I have called this press conference as a member of Assemblies of God and a Legal Adviser of one of the leading Districts in Nigeria to alert the nation of the brazen disregard to the judgment of the Supreme Court by one individual and it seems that the institution of state wants to aid this impunity. God forbid that this should happen in this dispensation and by a government that majority of Nigerians risked their reputation for.
By this press conference, I implore the Inspector General of Police Mr. Ibrahim Idris to carry out the judgment of the Supreme Court by asking Rev Paul Emeka to vacate the Secretariat of AG Nigeria in Enugu and vacate all other properties scattered all over Nigeria which he has sat upon based upon the erroneous judgment of the State High Court Enugu which the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court have all nullified. We do not want a breakdown of law and order in the church as a foremost Pentecostal Church in Nigeria they cannot be seen to employ unorthodox method in resolving what rightfully belongs to them.
The Nigerian Police, the time to act is now!!
Mr. Monday O. Ubani
Member of AG and Legal Adviser of
Lagos District of AG, Nigeria