Some policemen on Sunday prevented members of Embrace International Assembly, Ikorodu, Lagos, from gaining access into the church’s premises. The policemen, who blocked the main entrance into the church with their van, also manned strategic places within and outside the compound to prevent worshippers from going in. As a result of the development, members, who had turned out in large numbers for the day’s service, erected a canopy by the church’s fence to conduct Sunday service in the rain.
After the emotive but brief service, a mild drama ensued when one of the policemen disembarked from the van and attempted to chase away the members, who displayed placards bearing different inscriptions and chanted songs of solidarity in front of the church. As this went on, the policeman and two other colleagues shouted at the protesters to leave the premises or be dealt with, an act which resulted in hot exchange of words between both parties for minutes.
The blockade of the church since Thursday by policemen followed an alleged order from the authorities of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria due to a dispute with the senior pastor of Embrace, Rev. Isaac Adeyemi. Foursquare church claimed that Adeyemi, who used to be a minister under its ministry, converted its branch to his church. In a chat with Punch, Adeyemi said he had yet to understand why the church was allegedly sealed by Foursquare.
He said, “I really don’t want to talk about this because the matter is already in court. In all the courts Foursquare had taken me to, they lost the case. Their grouse is not against Embrace International Assembly, but me as an individual. So, why are they now sealing the church? I will let the court handle the matter”Also speaking on the matter, a high ranking member of the church, Mr. Samuel Turoti, said they had no business with Foursquare because it contributed nothing to the acquisition of the land and construction of the church.
He said,“Foursquare does not own Embrace International Assembly; this church was built by the members. All the documents of the church do not indicate in any way that Foursquare is a part of us, so why are they interested in taking over what does not belong to them? This is illegality of the highest order”. When contacted, the National Secretary of Foursquare Gospel Church, Rev. Ikechukwu Ugbaja, said the property under contention belonged to Foursquare and that Adeyemi merely changed the name and converted it to his own after being dismissed from the organisation.
He said, “Isaac Adeyemi used to be one of our pastors in Foursquare until he was dismissed for indiscipline. So, instead of going in peace, he and some rebels changed the name of our church to Embrace. That was where the problem started from. “For the fact that the church belonged to Foursquare, we took him to court and the court gave an injunction for him never to enter there again. “It was the court, while granting our prayers, that sent a bailiff to lock up the place last Thursday. It was not Foursquare that sent the police to seal the place; it was the court that did that”.