For everyone who thought that peace had returned to the Cathedral Church of Christ (Anglican Communion), Ilaro, in Yewa South Local Government Area, Ogun State following the reconciliation meeting held on April 12, 2016, events of May 1, 2016, the last may not have been heard on the issue.
On a Sunday morning when true followers of Christ were expected to be peaceful, sober and heavenly-minded, peace took flight as some congregants protested over the presence of Venerable Nathaniel Bamidele Oluwatade at the service – contrary to agreement at the peace meeting that he would be redeployed as members were opposed to his leadership style.
According to a source, who was part of the peace meeting and spoke after he was assured that his name would not be mentioned, confirmed that it was resolved that Venerable Oluwatade should relinquish every duty in the Church as part of conditions for a lasting peace. “It was a total betrayal of trust, deceit and ungodliness to go back on the resolutions. The bishop has not told us what he shares in common with Venerable Oluwatade,” the visibly angry source said.
It was gathered that among his many sins, was when he sacked all administrative staff members of the Church and conceived discreet moves aimed at transforming himself into the Provost of the Church against the people’s wish.
The Sunday morning protest was however halted by a detachment of policemen from Ilaro Police Division, who had mounted guards as early as 7.am, perhaps, in anticipation of crisis as the Church was opening for normal Sunday worship service having been shut since February 24.
Before things got to a head, early signs of trouble started when Venerable Oluwatade allegedly acting on the orders of Bishop of Yewa Diocese, Right Reverend Michael Adebayo Oluwarohunbi, changed all the locks leading into the Church and refused as it was the tradition of the Church to return the keys to the Church Sexton, whose duty it is to prepare and open the Church for the day’s activities.
The prospect of peace at the Cathedral may probably have been diminished further as no fewer than eight worshippers opposed to Venerable Oluwatade, including 60-years-old Mrs. Oluyemisi Ogunnubi, as well as Chief Solomon Adeniji, 77 and wife, Kikelomo, 67, were given the beating of their lives, manhandled and hauled into a waiting police Hilux Van with registration number NPF 6562C and driven away.
“These policemen are working for the bishop. Since the crisis started, they have always aimed at those opposed to the way things were done in the church and with what happened today, nobody is in doubt anymore about who they are working for,” a resident and eyewitness told us.
Another eyewitness also expressed displeasure at the shame the Church had become in recent times. “This used to be a good Church in this neighbourhood until we heard that the former Provost, (Very Reverend Solomon Rotimi Adewunmi), was frustrated to resigning his position in the Church.
“Today, you can’t tell whether it is a joint Secretariat for People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress Party (APC) members. Many things really happen here every week days. It is a shame that they (members) can’t live according to the word of God,” she said.
It would be recalled that the Church located at Ona-Nla Quarters, Ilaro, had been in the news for all the wrong reasons following sustained intrigues and leadership tussle. Things became worse March this year, when some members discovered during a revival programme that unauthorised pillars were erected at the four corners of the Church building as well as inside the worship hall, and welding of its entrance leading to a breakdown of the peace.
Meanwhile, after the police had made arrests in and outside the Church hall, and threatening to shoot anyone who refused to leave the Church vicinity, about 30 congregants later settled down for normal Church service.
After the fracas, the service started at about 10:24 a.m. and Venerable Oluwatade mounted the pulpit and started his sermon.
“Today is the final day this kind of thing will be tolerated in this church,” he warned. “Those of you that are present but have sympathy for them should go and tell them that we are ready to do battle. Except they come before this Church and prostrate and ask for forgiveness, the power of God will come upon them.”
Oluwatade, who spoke amidst worship songs including, “Arise O’ Lord Let Your Enemy Be Scattered”, “Our God is the God of War”, enjoined the congregants to pray fervently against enemies of the Church. Quoting copiously from the book of Ephesians, he urged members to put on all the armour of God and be prepared for the battle ahead. In his 26 minutes sermon, the preacher said, “This Cathedral is the Church of God and not of man. Anyone who attempts to take it over will fail in Jesus name.”
The sermon didn’t end on that note. He went on, “I am ready for them. I never asked to be posted here, but now that I am here, I am prepared for whatever battle. They should be told that their juju failed to work,” he said. He further enjoined members not to be wary or be discouraged by what took place earlier in the day, but to always make their presence felt at every service, including next Sunday service.
All the text messages to Bishop Oluwarohunbi and Oluwatade, as well as, telephone calls were ignored.
Meanwhile, the Divisional Police officer (DPO) of Ilaro Police Station, Mr Lukman Adejumo Raheem, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), in a telephone chat told The Daily Times that his men were simply trying to maintain the peace.
According to him, they were not invited by any member of the Church but made arrests when they saw people fighting on the street. He also denied that his men manhandled anyone.