AKWA Ibom State government has marked a popular church in Uyo known as Holy Ghost Ambassadors Ministry International for demolition after its clergyman Pastor Andy Nyeneime spoke against Governor Udom Emmanuel’s plans to foist a successor on the state.
Last week, Pastor Nyeneime spoke out against plans by the governor to impose a his successor on the state in 2023. For his trouble, the clergyman was invited by Nigeria’s secret police, the State Security Services, for questioning and now the Uyo Capital City Development Authority (UCCDA) has marked the church building for demolition.
Already, the church has also been served with a notice to that effect. In the notice, Eshiet Freddy, the head of the UCCDA town planning department, said the church building did not meet the planning standards for approval.
Mr Freddy said the structure negates minimum requirements in terms of space standard, building line and area distribution. This two-storey building, which was started in 2012, has been serving as a worship centre for many years and there was no question mark about its status until now.
“It is worth to note that you are occupying/constructing an illegal structure without prior approval from the authority. The said illegal structure constitutes an offence and contravenes provisions of Town and Country Planning Law Cap. 133, Laws of Akwa Ibom State.
“In view of the above, you are hereby given seven days’ notice within which to remove the said illegal development and reinstate the land to its original state,” Mr Freddy said in the notice. He pointed out that the city development authority would be forced to demolish the building if the church fails to comply with the order.
UCCDA has also issued similar demolition notices to Dunamis International Gospel Centre, Uyo and Refuge International School, owned by another popular metropolitan church, God’s House of Refuge. Akwa Ibom has a predominant Christian population and church leaders play an influential role in the politics and governance in the state, especially in the election of new leaders.
Governor Emmanuel, himself a church deacon, holds regular meetings with select church leaders, otherwise called fathers of faith, where he briefs them about his administration’s policies and actions, including his succession plan. Until the recent division among the church leaders, the fathers of faith had in the past expressed their resolve to support Governor Emmanuel’s succession plan.