Supreme Court affirms Assemblies of God’s General Overseer’s sack

Rev, Paul Emeka

The three-year-long leadership crisis in the Assemblies of God Church was on Friday laid to rest as the Supreme Court upheld the sack of the General Overseer of the Assemblies of God Church, Paul Emeka, for violating the church’s rules.

In a unanimous judgment, the apex court dismissed the appeal filed by Reverend. Emeka against an earlier decision of the Court of Appeal, Enugu, which equally upheld his sack.

The church had been embroiled in a crisis which started when the General Council of the Church suspended Rev. Emeka on March 6, 2014.

The council held that Mr. Emeka violated several sections of the church’s constitution and bye laws, particularly, Article 12, which deals with taking or using any other person to initiate proceedings against the church in court for any reason.

It noted that Mr. Emeka failed to exhaust the church’s internal mechanism for dispute resolution, as stipulated in its rules.

The church’s council’s letter conveying Emeka’s suspension was signed by John Ikoni (General Secretary); Chidi Okoroafor (Acting General Superintendent) and Vincent Alaje (General Treasurer).

The church also accused the former General Superintendent of being autocratic, being involved in financial mismanagement, engaging in abuse of power and “above all took the church to court, an act tantamount to tarnishing the image of the church and bringing it to public ridicule.”

Mr. Emeka’s challenge of the church’s council’s decision ended with the Supreme Court’s judgment Friday.

Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, in the lead judgment, upheld the earlier decision of the Court of Appeal, Enugu division, to the effect that Mr. Emeka’s suspension and dismissal were in order.

On Mr. Emeka’s claim that he was not accorded fair hearing by the church’s council, as guaranteed under the Constitution, Justice Kekere-Ekun held that there was remedy under Chapter 4 of the Constitution if indeed his right to fair hearing was violated.

The judge said the provisions of Section 36 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, on which the appellant hinged his appeal, was limited to proceeding in law courts, but not proceedings emanating from domestic meetings and standing adhoc tribunals.

Justice Kekere-Ekun held that the right to be a member of a church was not a right recognized under Chapter 4 of the Constitution.

The judge noted that there was no proper proof of service on the respondents by the appellant. She set aside the service of court processes on the respondents and dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit.

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