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Police invade church with armoured tanks, chase out worshippers

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Operatives of the Enugu State Police Command have reportedly invaded the Assemblies of God Church at No 27 Mount Street Agbani Road, Enugu, with an Armoured Personnel Carrier and allegedly manhandled worshipers.

The invasion of the church, which was said to have occurred on Sunday, The PUNCH learnt, was led by the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the operation with three Divisional Police Officers of Kiriki, Uwani and Awkunanaw stations.

It was gathered that after the invasion, some members of the church were arrested and the church premises which also had a school were padlocked after the worshippers had been chased out.

Assemblies of Church had been engulfed in a leadership crisis since 2014. Since then, the crisis had been under litigation.

But recently, the Federal High Court, Enugu, presided by Justice Dugbo-Oghoghorie, gave an order directing the parties to maintain the status quo. Our correspondent learnt that the court fixed January 30 for ruling on the case.

However, one of the worshippers manhandled by the police operatives who gave his name as Osita Ike described the action of the police as unlawful, desecration of the church and inhuman.

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He said, “I don’t know the cause of such an embarrassment and inhuman treatment displayed by the Nigeria Police. They manhandled the worshippers who came to worship God and arrested some members of the church.

“We were in the church on Sunday morning when a troop of heavily armed policemen came with an armoured tank as if there was a war and started beating and chasing people out of the church.

“Actually, we are into two factions. The service was going on. Some were at the back worshipping while members of the other faction were worshipping inside the church. I don’t know why they came because we had been worshipping like that since the crisis erupted in the church hierarchy.

“For the short period that I joined them, about a year and six months now, one faction normally starts by 6 am and ends at 11 am. The other group starts at 11 am and end at any time of their choice.”

He said after the church premises were padlocked, four members of the church were arrested and taken to the police headquarters.

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As of the time of filing this report, it was not clear whether those arrested on Sunday had been released.

When contacted on the telephone, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Ebere Amaraizu, declined comment.

Amaraizu, a Superintendent of Police, simply told our correspondent, “Let me find out what happened” and switch off his phone.

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