The 23rd Amoured Brigade of the Nigerian Army based in Yola, Adamawa State, has commenced investigation into the disruption last Sunday of a church service in Yola by some men in military uniform.
The men, suspected to be soldiers, were reportedly invited to the state headquarters of the Assemblies of God’s Church in Luggere Ward by a Reverend, Thomas Taro, during the Sunday service in an attempt to take over the church and remove the presiding pastor, Patrick Waziri.
But the brigade spokesman, Adamu Ngulde, a Major, said the army did not send any of its personnel to the church and has commenced moves to track those involved if at all they were genuine military men.
“The church told us that the men were not wearing their name tags. We contacted our officer in charge of counter insurgency as well as security in the town and he said he did not deploy soldiers to participate in any operation in the church.
“Besides, no civilian has the right to invite soldiers into a civil matter like this,” Mr. Ngulde said.
Mr. Ngulde said the military had already met with the authorities of the church and was looking for Mr. Taro who was said to have invited the said military men.
Speaking to journalists on his church’s experience, Mr. Waziri said the development had to do with the crisis rocking the national leadership of the church at its headquarters in Enugu.
Two men, Paul Emeka, a professor, and Chidi Okorofor, a Reverend, are contesting the leadership of the church.
Mr. Waziri said the Supreme Court had recently addressed the matter by asking the parties to embrace dialogue.
According to Mr. Waziri, the Supreme Court judgement did not give any party victory but said the parties should go and settle the dispute amicable.
Mr. Waziri said Mr. Taro, who belongs to Mr. Okoroafor‘s group, misinterpreted the judgement to mean the court gave his side victory and that was why he stormed the church with the soldiers to remove him.
He said Mr. Taro needed to know that since Mr. Emeka’s group, to which he (Waziri) belongs, is still in charge at the headquarters, nothing has changed.
“He (Taro) needs to know that he is not the one to enforce court judgement whenever the need arises; the presence of military was totally uncalled for.”
Mr. Waziri called for the review of the church’s constitution to check lapses that created room for the crisis.
“Most people have identified the need for the review of our constitution, which is obvious to safeguard such happenings in the future.”
When contacted on his involvement, Mr. Taro simply told journalists that he would not speak to the press until he had contacted the church’s national headquarters.