Akwa Ibom government has sealed off a branch of the Christ Embassy Church located close to the state house of assembly in Uyo, the state capital for allegedly violating its guidelines on the opening of churches
This is coming about two weeks after the church at a press conference said it was not bound to obey the guidelines jointly approved by the state government and the Christian Association of Nigeria.
According to Emmanuel Effiong, the pastor of the branch church, Christ Embassy as a global ministry, is not a member of CAN or any other association in Nigeria and does not believe nor advocate for unionism of church, rather believe in the unity of the faith.
However, in statement by Emmanuel Ekuwem, secretary to the Akwa Ibom government, it stated the decision was as a result of lawlessness by the church and to avoid the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 in Akwa Ibom State.
“The Christ Embassy Church building and premises are hereby sealed off with immediate effect till further notice,” adding that the “suspected Pastors and relevant members of the church will be made to face the wrath of the law.”
The statement read in part, “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 off with immediate effect till further notice.”
Effiong had maintained that the guidelines as proposed by CAN and adopted by the state government for reopening of churches in the state have not only stifled the fundamental rights to freedom of religion/worship but also were a clear attempt to gag the church.
He also stated that since Christ Embassy is not a member of CAN, and has not relinquished her rights to CAN, the Church cannot be bound by whatever decisions the Association or any other Association reaches with the Akwa Ibom state government.