Church sacks controversial pastor over inciting comments on social media

Rev. Richard Peters, Pastor in the African Church, Akwa Ibom State

A controversial pastor in Akwa Ibom State has been sacked by the church for allegedly making inciting comments on Facebook.

Richard Peters, who was the pastor in-charge of St. Paul African Church, Eket, received a sack letter from the church on Friday, a source within the church told PREMIUM TIMES.

The source did not want his name mentioned because he was not authorised to speak on the matter.

The national headquarters of the African Church, Lagos, which sacked Mr. Peters, told him his services were no longer needed.

He has been given two weeks to vacate the church’s property where he lives in Eket, according to the source.

Mr. Peters’ sack is coming 15 days after he was invited for questioning by the police at the state police headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia, over an allegation that he had joined a cult group.

Mr. Peters, 35, is infamous on Facebook, especially within the Akwa Ibom community, for making controversial comments about public figures.

The pastor was queried last month by the Archbishop of the African Church, Calabar Province, A.A. Odufuwa, for taking to Facebook to address a PREMIUM TIMES’ journalist, Cletus Ukpong, as “Son of Satan” and “demon” over a news story he felt was critical of the Akwa Ibom state government.

He surprisingly posted the query and his response on Facebook.

In his response, the pastor dared the archbishop to point to him where he violated the Nigerian Constitution or the Bible “which is the standard reference we use as Christians”.

“It will not be fair that I am punished on the basis of somebody’s anger against me for performing what I consider a constitutionally-protected action,” he told the archbishop.

The source who informed this newspaper of Mr. Peters’ sack said, “His activities on the social media reached an unbearable level.

“Let him go and do it elsewhere.

“Priesthood in African Church is highly respectable. It is against the ministerial ethics of the church to display such partisanship in politics and be making inciting comments.

“The priesthood in our church is a sober thing, he can’t fit in,” he said.

When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Mr. Peters, Saturday afternoon, he said he was yet to receive any sack letter from the church, but said he had heard “the rumour” of his sack.

The embattled pastor said he could not be sacked from the church because he has been a member of the African Church right from birth.

“How can I be sacked by my own church,” he said.

Mr. Peters first attracted the attention of the media in 2016 when a young human rights lawyer from Akwa Ibom State, Inibehe Effiong, rejected a “Freedom and Justice Award” from the pastor because he (Mr. Peters) requested a “small assistance” from him as part of the requirement for the award.

The pastor in 2017 sparked outrage on social media when he made public his letter to the Christian Association of Nigeria announcing the suspension of the lawyer, Mr. Effiong, from the African Church, for leading a protest against Akwa Ibom Governor, Udom Emmanuel’s plan to build a new governor’s lodge in Lagos. The lawyer was never a member of the church.

Mr. Peters, also in 2017, called for capital punishment against critics of Governor Emmanuel.

“Any destructive criticism to any government is satanic,” he wrote on Facebook. “And such person should be stoned to death.”

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