Nigerian Army, Commanding Officer of the 3 Battalion, David Ejoor Barracks, Effurun, Delta State, Lt Col. Igwe Omoke is under fire for ordering military invasion of Assemblies of God Church in Effurun, Delta State, last Sunday.
Lt. Col. Omoke is accused by the Prof. Paul Emeka-led national headquarters of the church of taking sides in the crisis rocking the church, after it emerged that he personally led the military men who invaded and shutdown the Glory House Parish of the church on Otti Street, Effurun.
Eyewitness accounts and photographs of the military invasion shown that the army officer was at the scene and directed the disruption of worship, because of his sympathy for Rev. Chidi Okoroafor’s faction in the crisis.
“On the morning of the attack, the Commanding Officer (Omoke) came with the troops. He was dressed in white native attire and he wore sunglasses. He had earlier visited the church and made inquiries from neighbours on the whereabouts of the pastor of the church (Pastor Omole).
“The soldiers who came that Sunday told us we had 10 minutes to round up whatever we were doing and shut down the church and we could not argue with them because they were armed and had removed their name tags and the number plates from the two vans they came with.
“The vans were fitted with heavy guns – maybe machine guns – and the soldiers were very menacing. We were doing our Sunday school, but we could not complete it because the soldier was counting down: ‘eight minutes, five minutes and so on,” a female member of the church, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told our reporter.
When contacted by our reporter on telephone shortly after the incident, the army officer denied knowledge of the military operation at the church, saying he was not aware of what our reporter was “talking about.”
However, in a volte face, Lt. Col. Omoke told journalists on Tuesday afternoon that he took the action following a petition, dated 11th February (three days before the invasion) that the church leadership was disobeying court order and there was a threat to peace in the area.
He said, “To avert further crisis, I told my men to conduct patrol along the area and ensure that what had happened last two weeks did not occur again. So for any person to say I am taking side is unfortunate, I have sacrifice my time to ensure there is peace in Warri.”