The Chapel of Christ the Light, Alausa, Ikeja, was a shadow of itself on Sunday during the Sunday service as many members of the church did not show up.
PUNCH Metro, during a visit to the church, observed that the chapel was sparsely filled as the service, which usually ended around 1pm, was brought to a close at 11.30am.
Of the 30 church members that were supposed to be part of the birthday thanksgiving service for the month of May, only nine were present.
From the prayer session, led by the Chaplain, Very Rev. Ayo Oyadotun, to the choir ministration, the general theme was overcoming difficult times and fighting forces seeking to scatter the church.
PUNCH Metro had reported that the Presiding Chaplain of the Chapel, Venerable Femi Taiwo, was sacked by the Governing Council of the church allegedly on the orders of the state Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode.
Taiwo was said to have been sacked for “disrespecting” Ambode’s wife, Bolanle.
Bolanle was reported to have attended the chapel on Sunday, May 14, for an anointing service.
She was reported to have stormed out of the church for not being recognised by the chaplain during the service.
By 1pm the following day, Taiwo was sacked and issued a 24-hour ultimatum to vacate the vicarage with his wife and kids.
The government ordered Taiwo’s assistant, Oyadotun, to take over the mantle of leadership of the church.
On Friday, Nigerians expressed disappointment at the action of Ambode, asking him to call his wife to order and rescind the decision.
On Saturday, the Lagos State Government, due to the backlash that trailed the report, shifted the thanksgiving service for the Lagos@50 celebration from the chapel to the Banquet Hall, Lagos House, Alausa.
In an interview with our correspondent, Taiwo’s bishop at the African Church, Rt. Rev. Michael Adeyemi, said the church was embarrassed by the action of the Lagos first family
He noted that Bolanle’s action, in particular, was ungodly and sacrilegious, adding that she must apologise for disrespecting a minister of God due to her ego.
PUNCH Metro on Sunday observed that the incident had taken its toll on the chapel as most members were absent.
During a brief sermon, one of the church’s pastors, Deji Koko, who claimed to have fainted while ministering during a vigil at the chapel on Saturday, announced a 14-day prayer campaign.
Koko urged the congregation to always pray for their pastors, saying the church was engaged in a battle.
He said, “We must pray. We first had a seven-day vigil and the devil struck back. It is when you hit the enemy that he fights back.
“We again declared a three-day vigil, which started on Wednesday. I was here (at the pulpit) when I suddenly fell. I heard Baba (pointing at one of the church’s elders) screaming.
“I didn’t know what was happening again. I was taken to the back.
“The Bible says smite the shepherd and the sheep will scatter. A shepherd has been struck, but thank God we have not scattered.”
He challenged the members to keep holding on to their faith, saying the church would emerge stronger in the end.
Our correspondent observed that the name of the sacked presiding chaplain, Taiwo, which was on the programme booklet, was blurred with a marker.
At the end of the service, the church announced that ‘registered’ members would have a meeting.
A source told PUNCH Metro that the meeting bordered on resolving the crisis in the church.
She said, “At the meeting, your report was mentioned and the church said it had sent a rejoinder.
“It was also agreed that ministers coming into the chapel may need to be educated on protocols because some ministers don’t really know much and may need to be schooled.
“We all are not happy with the removal of the Venerable, but it is appearing that he might not return. That was the reason the church’s attendance was seriously affected today (Sunday). In fact, if you observed, some of the church members were leaving while the service was on. The church used to overflow with people.
“We also finished the service unusually early. Unfortunately, the government and the governing council have been sending some lies to a particular online platform to damage the reputation of Venerable Taiwo. It was among the discussions at the church and we have asked that the issues be put in perspective.”
It was gathered that the governing council and the church’s committee had been under pressure from the state government to issue statements on the incident.
A member of the church told PUNCH Metro that the church spent about seven hours in another emergency meeting over the matter on Friday.
“They wrote down the names of some of the church members that could have possibly leaked the report to the press because the government was seriously embarrassed by the report,” the source said.
A statement, issued on Saturday and signed by 2nd Vice Chairman and Head of Laity, Ayo Obajimi, and the church’s Assistant Secretary, Dotun Okunade, for the Chapel Management Committee, stated that the chapel dissociated itself from The PUNCH’s reports because it enjoyed the support of the government.
It noted that the chapel had a committee that supervised its day-to-day running.
The six-paragraph statement read in part, “We observed that on a previous occasion, and during the anointing service of May 14, 2017, security and protocol rules were breached.
“It should be mentioned that since the commencement of this present administration, the church has continuously enjoyed tremendous support from the state government.
“In view of the above, the church is using this medium to disabuse the minds of the public that the information contained in the said publication is not supported by the church. We affirm that the church will not be part of anything that may embarrass the Lagos State Government.”
PUNCH Metro gathered that the governing council, the Christian Association of Nigeria, The African Church, The Christian Council of Nigeria, would hold a meeting on the incident on Monday (today).
A source said the meeting was scheduled for 11am.
“The intent of the meeting is not clear, but it is after the meeting that we will know the way forward,” the source said.
When contacted, the Chairman of CAN, Lagos State, Apostle Alexander Bamgbola, and CAN’s Secretary, Israel Akinadewo, declined comments over the incident.
“I have no comment, my son,” Bamgbola said.