Peter Dada, Akure Worshippers at the Holy Apostles Church, Ayetoro, in the Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State trooped out on streets of the community on Sunday to protest against the continued closure of the church by the police. It was gathered that the church was closed down by the Ondo State Police Command […]
Worshippers at the Holy Apostles Church, Ayetoro, in the Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State trooped out on streets of the community on Sunday to protest against the continued closure of the church by the police.
It was gathered that the church was closed down by the Ondo State Police Command in January 2016 following a leadership crisis in the community.
A resident of the area explained to PUNCH Metro that the church was the only church that members of the community attended.
He added that whoever was the head of the riverine community would automatically become the head of the church.
He said the crisis rocking the community had affected the church.
It was also gathered that sequel to the closure, members of the community had been unable to worship.
During the protest on Sunday, the worshippers displayed placards with different inscriptions such as ‘Open our place of worship,’ ‘Freedom of worship is our rights here,’ ‘All we are saying, we need a place of worship,’ among others.
Another member of the community, who spoke on condition of anonymity, disclosed that the church was initially closed down for several months, but was reopened on November 8, 2015, and later closed down again on January 11, 2016, for the second time by the police.
One of the leaders of the church, Mr. Lawrence Lemamu, who spoke to our correspondent, lamented that the government and the police were depriving the residents of the community of their fundamental human rights to worship in the land of their fathers.
He said, “Serving God in worship is key and central to the establishment of this community by our forefathers. Ayetoro is all about worshipping God.”
However, another leader of the church, Bishop Eretan, said the church was shut off because the problem in the community started from the church, noting that it was part of measures employed to calm the aggrieved parties.
Eretan said the closure was recommended as a temporary solution to the problem to avert similar crisis which first erupted in 1986, during which a life was lost.
“Religious crisis is very dangerous. If we are not careful, many lives may be lost. The same mechanism that was used in 1986 was what we have applied.” he said.
The Police Public Relations Officer for the Ondo State Police Command, Mr. Femi Joseph, was unavailable for comments as of press time, as his telephone line was switched off when our correspondent put a call across to him.
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