According to a report in the Punch
, the officials of Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority on Thursday demolished the regional headquarters of the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries in Enugu State.
Despite prayers from worshippers, who gathered at the church premises in the Enugu metropolis, the ECTDA officials went ahead to pull down the church building. While the bulldozer made the first move, members of the church, who were already praying, fled the building.
Our correspondent observed that the worshippers had initially refused to leave the church hall and preferred that they be buried with the collapsing walls.
Regional Pastor of the church, Ude Ogaranya, described the exercise as an abomination and a rape on justice.
He said, “Actually, this is a rape on justice. This case has been in court since September last year, and we are yet to get justice. The judge has yet to deliver judgment on this. This is totally contempt of court. This is an abomination.
“The land they gave to us was in dispute between the Ngwo people and the Amaechi people, so they (government)could not allow us to move into the land. I wrote to the Inspector General of Police and the Enugu State Commissioner for Land, and they asked the Ngwo people to keep off, and just this Saturday, we had access into the land for the first time. We were able to put our pillars and clear the land.”
Ogaranya told PUNCH Metro that to his surprise, the church got a quit notice two days after.
He said, “You gave us a piece of land on Saturday and today, being Thursday, you are pulling down the church of God.
“All our materials are inside -musical instruments, seats, worship items, all our property. How can we remove them when the two bulldozers are already pulling the structure down?
“I went to the offices of the Attorney General of the state and the Commissioner for Land on Wednesday. I have their letters, asking them to give us more time that we just moved into the land on Saturday.”
The Commissioner for ECTDA, Ikechukwu Ugwegede, said it was done in respect of development control activities of the authority.
Ugwegede said the structure was about 2,100 square metres plan size erected on two plots of land, located within a total area of approximately 2,000 sq metres.
He alleged that the structure was illegal and unapproved as an application for approval was considered and rejected in March 2012, on the grounds that the church had overbuilt the property, with more than 100 per cent built, encroachment, on stream and road reserves.
“It was also constructed outside the purpose clause of the property as the area was designated for commercial development and not for institutional use,” Ugwuegede said.
The commissioner added that government had given copious opportunity to the church to rectify the illegality since the infraction was noticed.
The state government said it had given the church an alternative land of more than 400sq metres.
“No responsible government will stand and permit a predictable catastrophe to befall its people before taking appropriate steps. The state government had also identified other structures, which must be brought down to prevent any unsafe condition or illegal structure from remaining,” Ugwuegede added.