The Lagos State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on Tuesday threw its weight behind the decision of the Governing Council of the Chapel of Christ the Light to remove Femi Taiwo as presiding chaplain of the church.
Alex Bamgbola, the CAN state chariman, told journalists during a press conference in Lagos that the allegation that Mr. Taiwo was sacked because of an incident involving Bolanle Ambode, the state governor’s wife, was “not only untrue but unjust and erroneous.”
Media reports had claimed Mr. Taiwo was sacked for allegedly disrespecting Mrs. Ambode by failing to accord her due recognition during an anointing service on May 14.
Mr. Taiwo received his sack letter on May 15, with a directive to vacate the premises within 24 hours.
But addressing a press conference at the church premises on Tuesday the CAN leadership in the state said the Governing Council of the church acted within the law to relieve the chaplain of his duties.
Mr. Bamgbola said it was unfortunate that the public had been fed with “a totally untrue” story about an altercation with Mrs. Ambode, adding that the chapel was established by the State Government for its officials and members of the public with a Governing Council running its affairs through a standing Constitution.
He said under the constitution of the chapel, the Governing Council, which reports to the Lagos State Government through the Ministry of Home Affairs, has the legal authority to appoint two officers to run the church who are the Presiding Chaplain and the Chaplain.
“The Governing Council has the constitutional responsibility and authority to recruit and to terminate two officers who run the Chapel who are the presiding Chaplain, who is the senior officer and the Chaplain, who is the deputy. So, the presiding chaplain and the chaplain are officers of the chapel and officers of the government of Lagos State,” said Mr. Bamgbola.
“With this clarification, it should be known by the general public that these two officers who run the chapel are strictly officers of the State Government and they are subject to terms and conditions of employment of the State Government.
“When this matter began, many well-meaning Christians and elders tried to look at things and see how to work on the issue so that it does not get to the point we have seen. Well, the fact is, having investigated the matter carefully and objectively, that is CAN Lagos State, we wish to state here today that the Governing Council that recruited Venerable Taiwo acted within its constitutional authority to terminate the appointment of Venerable Taiwo.”
Mr. Bamgbola addressed the briefing alongside top leaders of CAN in the State.
“In particular and most unfortunate is the accusation of our revered and most responsible First Lady of Lagos State, Deaconess Mrs Bolanle Ambode as being instrumental to the termination of the appointment of the presiding chaplain because of one anointing service,” the CAN leader continued.
“We wish to state clearly here today that this is far from the truth. We want the press to know this and we want to thank all of you because the press has been quite on this matter except a particular paper that has been selling its paper through this matter which is unjust, unfair and does not portray professionalism.
“Deaconess Mrs Bolanle Ambode as far as we know is a true woman of God who fears God and lives a godly live and whom it has pleased God to raise to be first Lady of Lagos State at this time. The error of judgment by the said newspaper is most unfortunate and unfair to her, unfair to the entire Lagos State Government and unfair to the church at large in Lagos.
“We are therefore appealing to the press and the social media to please desist henceforth from publishing and circulating erroneous publication concerning this matter,” he said.
Mr. Bamgbola said the former chaplain was given notice before his from his official residence, but added that it would be inappropriate to start discussing the offence of the chaplain on the pages of newspaper.
He said for now, the CAN leadership has taken over the matter and would resolve it, but urged media practitioners to desist from circulating untrue story to the public.
Also speaking, Michael Adeyemi, Bishop of African Church, Ifako Diocese, the church where the former chaplain was seconded to the Chapel, said the church was satisfied with the position taken so far by CAN.
Mr. Adeyemi had granted an interview to the Punch newspaper saying Mrs. Ambode committed sacrilege and should apologize to the church.
“The matter is already under the control of CAN. We are very much satisfied with what CAN is doing. We appreciate Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and our mother, his wife, Mrs Bolanle Ambode. The Governor has achieved a lot in the State and we are satisfied with him,” Mr. Adeyemi said on Tuesday.
“On behalf of African Church, I will appeal that we are happy with CAN. The most important thing is to do what will glorify God. We have the mandate of African Church to say that we are in agreement with what CAN is doing on the matter,” Mr. Adeyemi said.
Other clergymen who attended the briefing are Lagos State CAN Secretary, Isreal Adewo; Lagos State CAN Treasurer, Stephen Adegbite of Methodist Church; CAN Vice Chairman, Lagos State, Emmanuel Oguntoshin; and Adebanjo Gabriel Taiwo of African Church.
EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED WITH MORE BACKGROUND INFORMATION