The Akwa Ibom State Government on Sunday sealed off the premises of one of Pastor Chris Oyakhilome’s churches in Uyo, capital of the State.The State Government sealed off the Christ Embassy Church, Nung Akpa Ime branch in Uyo for alleged attack on the State Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Compliance Monitoring Team.
Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem, Secretary to State Government and Chairman of COVID-19 Management Committee made this known in a statement in Uyo on Sunday.
Ekuwem said the Church was sealed off for obstructing, attacking and brutalising members of the monitoring team.
He added that the sealing off of the Church was due to acts of lawlessness and to avoid the risk of community transmission of Coronavirus.
The secretary to the state government said that the Pastors and members involved in the attack would be made to face the full wrath of the law.
“In response to this act of lawlessness by the Church and in order to avoid the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 in Akwa Ibom State, the Christ Embassy Church building and premises are hereby sealed off with immediate effect until further notice.
“The suspected Pastors and relevant members of the church will be made to face the wrath of the law,” Ekuwem said.
It was gathered that when the monitoring team arrived at the Church on Sunday, at about 11a.m., some men prevented the team from gaining access into the Church premises.
It was also learnt that appeals by the leader of the monitoring team, Mr Enobong Uwah, and other members including the State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Ndueso Ekwere, were rebuffed.
After the ease of lockdown, the Akwa Ibom Government reopened worship centres on June 7, based on the guidelines submitted by CAN.
Meanwhile, Pastor Chris had during a televised service while faulting the COVID-19 guidelines issued by the government for the gradual reopening of churches, said pastors who are afraid of COVID-19 do not believe in God.
Pastor Chris alleged that church leaders are responsible for the guidelines placed on churches, stressing that some leaders have insisted that the government should ensure that churches remain closed.
“We have to pray for our leaders and pastors who are scared of the virus. You can’t believe in Jesus Christ and be afraid of virus. Jesus touched people with leprosy and healed them. But these people who are afraid are pretending to be representing the Christians. It’s a shame. I think the leaders are laughing at them.
“If you are a Christian and minister of the gospel and you are afraid of the virus, you have no gospel. Your gospel has ended. The moment you start giving such guidelines to people in the church, you’ve repudiated your faith in Christ.
“You may not know this but the reason many churches are still shut down is not just government but church leaders who insisted that government should not let the churches open, except the churches follow these wicked guidelines.
“Some of those guidelines like wearing of gloves before laying hands on the sick, suspending holy communion, holy communion that Jesus Christ told us to take, now we are told to suspend them because of a pandemic, this is crazy,” Pastor Chris said.