Protest as monarch orders closure of church for three months

2011-01-31
THE PUNCH Newspaper- Sesan Olufowobi

Hundreds of worshippers at Saint Paul African Church, Alagbado, Ogun State, on Sunday took to their heels as some hoodlums in the area attacked them with canes, stones and other weapons, preventing them from having normal Sunday service in the church.



The hoodlums, who were said to have arrived the church as early as 6am, stayed in the church premises until 12noon; successfully preventing the church service from holding.



PUNCH METRO gathered that the closure was the culmination of a cold war between some elders in the church and the town’s new monarch, Oba Adedayo Shyllon. It was gathered that the monarch ordered that the church be closed for three months and the hoodlums were merely enforcing the king’s order.



The Peoples’ Warden and head of administration of the church, Mr. Sola Akinsanya, told our correspondent that the attack on the church by hoodlums suspeted to be the king’s loyalists was as a result of a simple security measure taken by the church, which the king was not happy with.



According to him, the elders in the church met on Saturday, January 22, and decided that there would be no church service the following day because they feared that there might be a violent protest in the church.



He said, “There was a court injunction, which was served on the church. The injunction prevented Shyllon from parading himself as the king. The elders met and decided not to hold church service on that day.”



“Ironically, that Sunday the elders decided to close the church coincided with the day that the new monarch chose for the thanksgiving of his coronation in the church.



But one of the elders in the church, Chief Theophilus Amodu, said there had been violent protest against the king by the youth and market women, prompting the elders to believe that his presence in the church might cause problem. “That Saturday, a young man was killed and we feared that our church might become the centre of another protest, hence the closure,” he said.



However, the elders’ action put the king in bad light as he and his visitors were stranded and had to quickly relocate to another church for the service. The angry king was said to have vowed to close the church for three months.



On Tuesday, January 25, the king made good his promise by locking all the entrances to the church. But the elders broke the lock and reported the case to the police.



Akinsanya said, “I called the vicar of the church and we went to the police station to make statement. The Divisional Police Officer said we should break the lock which we did. On Saturday, we wrote to the DPO requesting two armed policemen at our service today (yesterday). This morning, the sexton of the church, Mr. Wale Ogundimu, called to tell me that the church was locked again. Later we learnt that the sexton had been abducted by the thugs sent to the church.



“We went to the police station, where we also found the sexton. We made statement and the head of the station patrol and guard duty sent five policemen with us to the church on the DPO’s instruction.



“When we got there, we were prevented from entering the church by the thugs numbering about 22, sent by Shyllon and led by one Fatai. After discussing with the policemen, Fatai instructed his thugs to beat everybody, we fled.”



However, Amodu said that the elders would not allow the king to lock the church for three months. ”We want the whole world to know our plight and we want our church opened,” he said.



But the monarch said he did not send anybody to the church. “As you can see, I am just coming back from a service in another church. I don‘t know anything about anybody attacking them,” he said.



He however admitted that he gave instruction that the church should not be opened for three months.



He said, “I went to the church last week and I met it closed. I went there with the Primate of the African church and also the Bishop of Ifako Diocese; not to talk of about four kings that accompanied me. I was totally embarrassed.



“I have my instrument of office since December 23, 2010. The coronation was just a ceremony. If somebody went to court, what is the business of the elders of the church; were they joined in the suit? What protest were the talking about? There was no protest, the boy that died was killed on Monday during the clash of the butchers at the market there, not here. My father was among the five people that established that church; I am the Patron of the Archdeaconry and they locked me out.



“Of course, I said that since the elders wanted to close the church, the church would remain closed for the next three months. I said it before the bishop and the primate and they said nothing. I am the king of this town. I don‘t know anything about today‘s disturbance, but I know I said that the church would remain close for three months.”



 

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