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African church crisis escalates as council sacks S’West bishops

Isaac Job, Uyo

The ongoing leadership tussle in the African Church appears to have taken an ethnic dimension as the south-south leadership of the church have reportedly issued marching orders for bishops in the south-west to relocate from their states.

An inside source who spoke with our correspondent in Uyo on Sunday, disclosed that Bishop James Bamilede from Ekiti state who was at Fourtowns, Uyo, and the Archbishop of the Calabar Province, A. A. Odufuwa have been sacked from their stations since the return of the embattled Primate of the Church, Bishop Emmanuel Udofia.

The source who declined being quoted confirmed that other south-south states, including Edo and Delta have in addition to sending home bishops of Yoruba ethnic nationality, threatened a breakaway if the Western provinces of the church continue with the harassment of the current primate,

Our correspondent reports that the Calabar and Rivers provinces had during the reception for the embattled primate in Uyo, issued a breakaway threat to the arch cathedral of the church in Lagos, if the current primate of the church was not allowed to complete his tenure.

It was also gathered at the reception that Udofia is currently being threatened with sack if he fails to vacate office as primate by May this year when he turns 60 years.

But, the South South members of the church are however, of the opinion that a new law cannot be applicable to Udofia, who was voted into office on the dictates of the old constitution.

Udofia, who was warmly received in a very colourful ceremony at St Stephen’s Cathedral of the church in Uyo on Saturday, our correspondent gathered had been told by the laity and clergy of the two provinces made up of Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Delta states, to temporarily relocate to Uyo, until the crisis is over, especially with the alleged threats to his life and that of his family by some parishioners of the church in Lagos.

The Vice Lay President of Warri Diocese, Mr. Ezekiel Okorode, who spoke at the reception in Uyo, said the indignities to which the Western provinces of the church had subjected the primate were in a way, bringing victory to Calabar and Rivers provinces.

His words: “Today is a day of victory for our provinces. We have taken a step that will not be easy to reverse. We have told those bishops from the West to go back to their people.

They don’t like us and so we can’t like them. The Western provinces must retrace their steps and apologize, else it is backward never; forward ever.”

Okorode stated that if Udofia, the only primate of the African Church who is a non-Yoruba in the 118-year -life of the church can be humiliated by the Western provinces, then there was no basis for their continuous pretense to be together.