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Twist As CAN Supports Ambode’s Wife Against Sacked Lagos Chaplin

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Samson Folarin

The Lagos State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria has endorsed the sacking of the Presiding Chaplain of the Chapel of Christ the Light, Alausa, Ikeja, Venerable Femi Taiwo.

The Chairman of CAN in the state, Apostle Alexander Bamgbola, said the sacking of Taiwo was done by the Governing Council of the chapel which hired him, adding that the council had the power to fire him.

However, questions on the circumstances surrounding the sacking, including the order for Taiwo, his wife and kids to vacate their official quarters within 24 hours, were parried by the cleric, who insisted that the matter should be allowed to rest.

Related: Amode Sacks Chaplain, Throws Family Out Of Residence For ‘Disrespecting’ His Wife

Reporters were later asked to stop asking questions at the briefing, which was attended by leaders of CAN, representatives of the Christian Council of Nigeria and the African Church.

PUNCH Metro had reported exclusively that Taiwo’s sacking came after Bolanle, the wife of the state Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, stormed out of an anointing service at the chapel on May 14.

Members of the church had told our correspondent that Bolanle was angry because she was not anointed first.

It was reported that some members of the church’s governing council were used by Bolanle, who felt embarrassed by the Sunday incident.

No query was issued to Taiwo on the matter before he was kicked out.

The outrage that trailed the report made the state government to change the venue of the Lagos at 50 thanksgiving service from the chapel to the banquet hall of the state house, Ikeja.

Taiwo’s leader at the African Church, Ifako Diocese, Rt. Rev. Michael Adeyemi, had, in an exclusive interview with our correspondent published last Saturday, described the action of Bolanle as ungodly and sacrilegious.

Realted: Ambode’s Wife Committed Sacrilege And Should Apologise – African Church Bishop

On Tuesday at a press briefing organised by the Lagos State Ministry of Home Affairs in the church, the CAN Chairman, Bamgbola, lauded the Lagos State Government for its achievements, adding that the governor and his wife had moved the state forward.

He said, “Over the past three weeks, while thanking our God and celebrating our jubilee in Lagos State, one very simple matter has been dominating the social media. This is the issue of the severance of the employment of Venerable Femi Taiwo, the former Presiding Chaplain of the chapel, by his employers.

“As a result of the unfortunate misunderstanding of the issue, caused by erroneous publications in the print and social media, we believe  CAN, Lagos State, must make clarifications to educate the public on this matter.

“First, the CCTL was built by the state government for itself, its family of Christian employees and for the public at large.

“Second, the government created a standing legal constitution for the CCTL, which has guided the running of the chapel for years. According to that constitution, CCTL is under the leadership of a governing council, which reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs. All religious bodies in this state report to the ministry.

“The governing council of the chapel has the constitutional responsibility to recruit and terminate the appointment of two officers who run the chapel. The two officers are the presiding chaplain, who is the senior officer; and the chaplain, who is the deputy. The two are officers of the chapel and officers of the government of Lagos State.”

He said CAN had investigated the matter and discovered that the governing council sacked Taiwo within its constitutional powers.

Bamgbola, who commended other media for being silent on the case, noted that a newspaper (The PUNCH) had been accusing the state government as the brains behind the sacking.

Related: CAN Takes Over Case Of Sacked Lagos Chaplin |The Republican News

“In particular is the accusation against our responsible and most revered First Lady, Deaconess  Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, as being instrumental in the termination of the chaplain in the course of one anointing service.

“We wish to state clearly that this is far from the truth. Deaconess Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, as far as we know, is a true woman of God, who fears God and lives a godly life and whom it has pleased God to raise to be the First Lady at this time. We must be careful with God in all we do. The Bible says in Matthew 7:1, ‘Judge not, so that you are not judged.’” he added.

Drama ensued while Bamgbola and the other Christian leaders were fielding questions from journalists.

A reporter with Silverbird Television asked CAN chairman if Taiwo was actually asked to vacate his house within 24 hours.

He said, “This story would not have been of interest in anyway except that the reverend was thrown out of his residence in 24 hours. A lot of people consider that to be inhuman and unjust. Do you know exactly what happened? Was he thrown out of his residence? Was he given due notice to leave?”

Bamgbola, in his response said, “Thank you for your question. While all of us here have been talking, we have emphasised something: the matter is under control. The church and the government are handling it. Ok? That is the answer to your question.”

The response raised murmurs of discontent among the press as the Silverbird reporter insisted on a clearer response.

“I want to answer your question point blank. He was given notice!  No, don’t shake your head. You asked if he was given notice and I said, yes, he was given notice,” Bamgbola said.

Another reporter asked if CAN had investigated the incident and what were its findings.

Bamgbola said the Christian body was still “finding the details.”

After contributions from other CAN leaders, a reporter, who observed the reticence of representatives of the African Church, picked on the silence of Adeyemi.

He said, “Rt. Rev. Michael Adeyemi, I notice that you have been silent since we started. You granted an exclusive interview to The PUNCH, where you described the act (of the sacking) as sacrilegious and ungodly. What we are hearing today is at variance with your statement. We are confused. Can you please shed more light on this? And sir, you said he was given notice. How many days notice? There is a tenancy law in Lagos State…”

The CAN Chairman quickly cut in.

He said, “Young man, I said he was given notice. You should take it like that; and that is all I will say. The question you are asking Baba Adeyemi, I will answer it. One of the things that happen with some of you in the press is quoting what is not totally complete. That is why some of us don’t talk to the press.

“You people want to do sensational reporting so you can sell your newspapers. Yes, a discussion was held (between The PUNCH and Adeyemi); but how are you sure that was what was said?

“Look, people have thrown so much emotion into this matter. This is a practical matter. It happens all the time. I have had to send a minister out of my church and you didn’t report it. Let us stop whipping up emotions. And let’s fear God.”

Further questions were also not well answered as some of the reporters had to seek clarifications which did not come.

The CAN leaders insisted it was an in-house matter.

The leader of the African Church, Adeyemi, after observing growing discontent, offered to address journalists.

He noted that his church had decided to leave the matter to CAN no matter how long it would take to resolve it.

He said, “We are a well-disciplined organisation. We have a very good structure and we appreciate God. All along, the African church has been part and parcel of CAN. We are an established church. Seeing us here today with the leadership of CAN in Lagos shows that the matter is under control. We are very much in agreement with what CAN is doing on this matter. We respect our government and we respect the First Lady; she is our mother. We appeal to the press to suspend any other question. Don’t bother yourself. If we are not satisfied, we will cry out. We appreciate you and we will come back together to appreciate God. The most important thing is to honour and glorify God in all we are doing. We will agree with CAN whatsoever be the outcome.”

After his speech, a reporter took on Adeyemi over his interview with The PUNCH, saying his statement showed he had made a U-turn.

He asked him if he had apologised to Bolanle and the government of Lagos State for the interview.

“Gentleman, there is nothing like a U-turn in this matter. I have said that everything is already transferred to CAN and we are very much satisfied with the way things are going. We are under CAN and we are subject to them. CAN is saying they are working on it. Why are we in a hurry? So, it is still in a process. Let us wait until the process is completed, even if it will take one year. Let us wait,” he added.

A statement by the home affairs ministry’s spokesman, Lookman Seriki, also stated that CAN backed the sacking of the presiding chaplain.      (Punchng.com) 

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Ambode’s Wife Committed Sacrilege And Should Apologise – African Church Bishop

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Rt.Rev. Michael Adeyemi

The Rt. Rev. Michael Adeyemi is the head of the African Church, Ifako Diocese, and the boss of the Presiding Chaplain of the Chapel of Christ the Light, Ikeja, Venerable Femi Taiwo, who was sacked by the Lagos State Government for allegedly disrespecting the wife of the governor, Bolanle. In this explosive interview with SAMSON FOLARIN, Adeyemi states the position of the church.

What relationship exists between The African Church and the Chapel of Christ the Light?

The chapel belongs to the Lagos State Government, but it is being managed by the entire Christian body and, specifically, the various blocs that form the Christian Association of Nigeria. In CAN, there are five blocs. The African Church belongs to the Christian Council of Nigeria, which is one of the blocs. The position of the Presiding Chaplain of the Chapel is rotated among the blocs to avoid any disharmony in the body of Christ. So, it is our turn to produce the Presiding Chaplain.

Venerable Taiwo, who is from this (Ikeja) diocese, was the chaplain for three years and after the three years he applied to become the presiding chaplain. He was interviewed and discovered to be qualified. He was subsequently employed as the Presiding Chaplain.

He started in January 2016, and was supposed to spend three years, but this incident happened. His predecessor came from the ECWA bloc of CAN and it was when his predecessor finished his tenure that he was appointed.

What is the process of appointing chaplains?

When the position becomes vacant, it will be published in the newspapers. Normally, applications will be invited from everybody, but in the end it will follow the usual order of rotation. So, when everybody applies, there will be a panel that will interview the applicants and the qualified person will be employed.

What do you know about the events that culminated in the sack of Taiwo?

It was on Monday, May 15, that Venerable Taiwo called me that there was a development in the chapel and that he was coming to see me. He came and showed me the sack letter, saying that his appointment had been terminated.

However, before now, there have been some issues in the chapel. He said the governor’s wife called him and the chaplain, who was his assistant, to see her. The two of them went there and they had a good interaction. There was no problem.  That (incident) happened in the first week of May.

He said some members of the governing council then called him to know why he went to the First Lady’s office and he explained to them that he and his assistant were invited. The council then told him he shouldn’t have gone to see her and that he should have allowed them to resolve any issue. The council then asked him and his assistant to write an apology letter, which they did. The governing council said the letter was to assuage the First Lady because she felt she was being challenged and accused of fraternising with a former presiding chaplain. According to Venerable Taiwo, that was the only encounter they had before the Monday 15th sack letter came.

Related: Amode Sacks Chaplain, Throws Family Out Of Residence For ‘Disrespecting’ His Wife

But are you aware that he got some queries as the government alleged? Has he ever told you he was queried at anytime for any offence?

I asked him specifically if he had been receiving queries from the officials of the chapel or the government, but he said it has never happened.

I know Taiwo. He is a very responsible minister of God; very knowledgeable, humble and disciplined. I have worshiped at that chapel a few times myself. And I made personal investigations about him. Even the members of the chapel are saddened by this development. If you know about what they have been doing since this incident happened, you will know venerable Taiwo is a man everybody respects.

Like what?

They accommodated him and furnished the place just to make him comfortable. They have also written to the government to rescind the decision. He is not a wayward person.

A lot of Nigerians are outraged about what happened. Do you think that this anger is justified?

It is highly justified. Even as a church, we are furious with the government. But we are trying to approach the issue from different angles. One is to appeal to the government, if reasoning will prevail. The governor himself and his wife can rescind the order.   The head of the church, His Eminence, Primate Emmanuel Josiah, has written to the governor’s office. He has been asked to book an appointment with the First Lady. We are aware that the letter written to the First Lady is not being attended to; she is not even ready to make herself available.

Has the church received any formal complaint against the Venerable?

That is where as a church we are angry with the government. If he is a serial offender as alleged, nothing stops them from reporting him to the church, that the person you seconded to the office here has a bad attitude and we would have called him to order. We have many others that we could have sent to the chapel. But we are very sure of him that was why we sent him. The government failed to inform us and for government now to have taken such a drastic step and tell him to leave (his official apartment) within 24 hours leaves much to be desired.

You mean the 24-hour ultimatum was truly stated in the sack letter?

I was here (in my office) when he (Venerable Taiwo) called me that they asked him to pack out within 24 hours and that he was even told that the governor’s wife would not like to hear that he was still being seen around. Then we started wondering what could have happened? Somebody that has a wife and kids, and you asked him to go within 24 hours? Where do you expect him to go?

This is very ungodly! It is a sacrilege for someone who happens to be a Christian. Even when Fashola (former Lagos State Governor) was there, despite being a Muslim, he never took such a decision. Now that the governor (Ambode) is a Christian, which we all fought for, he is the one taking ungodly decisions. We have written letters to CAN and CCN, including the Methodist Church where the Venerable Taiwo’s assistant came from, that if Mrs. Ambode, is trying to cause divide and rule among the Christians, she should go ahead. We are not afraid of anything.

We understand that Mrs. Ambode is also a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, let her go and ask the RCCG Pastor, Enoch Adeboye, whether what she did was the right thing to do to a minister of God. It is ungodly and very sad.

When the church heard that the sack was about anointing oil, what was the general reaction of the church?

Anointing oil is a personal thing. Nobody has the right or power to force anybody to take anointing oil. It is even ungodly to say a worshipper should take it by force. Even Holy Communion is voluntary; there is no protocol when it comes to that. When you are in the House of God, rich or poor, old or young, you are all equal before God. If Ambode will recall, anytime she comes for service, she will be the one to sit in the front and she has the right and privilege of going to the stage first if she is interested.

What did the Venerable tell you happened at the service that day?

I have tried to confirm from Taiwo what really happened on that Sunday and he said the service held as usual. There were three of them who stood to minister the anointing oil and few of them who wished to receive the oil came forward. Ambode’s wife later joined the queue. And she even participated in the thanksgiving service.

But why was she angry that day? The church members said she left in annoyance.

From my findings, her point of annoyance was that she was not recognised. She was not duly recognised and I asked that at what point was she expecting that recognition? I was told that Venerable Taiwo mounted the pulpit to deliver the sermon, she expected him to recognise and welcome her to the service. To some extent, I agree with her because the Bible says we should give honour to whom it is due.

 Was that enough for a sacking?

That did not call for a sacking. The procedure they adopted was ungodly. If she felt offended because of recognition, there is a procedure. She could have called the chapel members and the management body and let them query him and ask why he didn’t recognise the governor’s wife. And then the management body would make their recommendation to the governing council. And the council will then forward their decision to the government. That is the way it should be done. But they didn’t do it.

Whatsoever it is, our own point is that the right procedure was not followed. Government has the right to employ and the right to sack. But if you are now sacking and asking the person to leave within 24 hours, that is too much.

As a church, we are demanding apology from the governor and the government of Lagos State. We demanded that we wanted a Christian governor. We came out en masse and supported the political ambition of Ambode. We told our members to go out and vote for him. Unfortunately, people have started mocking us.

What has happened is a sacrilege and Mr. Ambode should know that. We have been appreciating his efforts in Lagos. Why will he allow himself to get involved in such a trivial issue that can spoil his public image? You are the governor and the image of Lagos State and the father of all. When any report comes to you, you should dissect that report and know what steps and action to take.

Has CAN tried to mediate in this matter?

Yes, CAN and CCN have been trying to do some underground work to ensure that the matter did not get to this level. But now that it has got to this point, we have served them letters and I am sure they know what to do.

Will the church query the Venerable over the incident?

Yes, however, it might not be in the form of query. The church will do its findings over his activities over there and we will forward out findings to the centre. But so far from our findings, we have not found any fault in him. Some of the elders and chapel leaders are also angry over the sacking. They were not informed. He has not done anything to warrant what happened.

What has been the experience of the pastors of the church with Mrs. Ambode and former first ladies in Lagos State?

While I will not want to be too personal, as a church, we are very much at home with Dame Abimbola Fashola than with Mrs. Bolanle Ambode. Mrs. Fashola is a mother, very humble, knowledgeable and mature. She has a way of dealing with men, women, young, old, men of God of different cadres and she knows how to appreciate people. Many of these attributes are somehow lacking in Mrs Ambode. Maybe this is because of her tender age; she needs to acquire more experience.

What is the state of the Venerable and his family now?

I want to thank the members of the Chapel of Christ the Light. They have been very fantastic. They accommodated him and furnished the place he is staying now. His car got burnt where he parked it. If a car is parked in a government house and that car got burnt in the middle of the night like 2am, there is foul play. Even that alone, if government is very fair, they were supposed to set up a panel to investigate it. But that did not happen.

When this incident happened, it was these members that bought him another car so that he would not feel the impact of what happened. Even as a church, we are making plans to ensure he is not stranded.

He will not be without a ministry. We are going to give him a station very soon, if he is not called back. We just don’t want to rush it.

What will the church do if the government recalls him?

If government calls him back before he resumes at his new station, then we will need to sit down with them because this is a complete embarrassment to the church. Ambode,  his wife, the state government, embarrassed and insulted the African Church. We must sort things out and give them our stand.

They may decide to recall him because of the tension that has arisen over the incident only to do something worse. These politicians cannot be predicted. Any politician that does not have the fear of God cannot be trusted. The embarrassment they caused us has never happened to any other denomination. Even during the military era this can never happen.

Why do you think some government officials don’t respect pastors and priests?

They lack the fear of God. They are conscious of position and money and with this, the society cannot move forward. Also, our religious leaders have messed themselves up because of money. They are patronising the politicians and they are making them to believe that their anointing is not real.

But I believe that any politician, who has the fear of God in him, even if any minister misbehaves, you are not the one to judge him. You should ensure you do your part. If Ambode or his wife knows the tenets of Christianity, they will not deal with Venerable Taiwo like that. They will know that this is a man of God.

They should have said have written to us, saying they don’t want to embarrass the church and we as a church would have handled it. We have a lot of other ministers across the state and the country. But they didn’t do that because there is no fear of God in them. They are not ready to submit to the Will and Word of God. Ego is killing us.

If not ego, why should Mrs. Ambode feel embarrassed that she was not called first to receive the anointing? But when ego takes the better part of any individual, that person will misbehave and if you tell him or her the truth, he or she will not agree.  (Punchng.com)

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