Worshippers protest closure of church by police in Ondo

The protesters

Peter Dada, Akure

Worshippers of Holy Apostles Church, Ayetoro in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State trooped to out streets of the community on Sunday  to protest against the continue closure of the church by the police.

It was gathered that the church was closed down by the order Ondo State Police Command in January  2016 following a leadership crisis in the community.

The church is the only church that all members of the community attend and whoever is the head of the riverine community is the head of the church but the crisis rocking the community has apparently affected the church

It was also gathered that sequel to the closure, members of the community were unable to worship.

During the protest on Sunday, worshippers who were in their regalia carried placards with different inscriptions such as ‘Open our place of worship’, ‘ Freedom of worship is our right here,’ ‘All we are saying, we need a place of among others.

A member of the community on condition of anonymity disclosed that the church was initially closed down for several months but was reopened on November 8, 2015 and later closed down again on January 11, 2016 for the second time by the police.

One of the leaders of the church, Mr. Lawrence Lemamu, who spoke with journalists on the development lamented that the government and police authority were depriving them of their fundamental human right to worship in the land of their fathers.

He said, “Serving God in worship is key and central to the establishment of this community by our forefathers. Ayetoro is all about worshipping God.”

However, another leader of the church,  Bishop Eretan, said the church was placed under lock because the problem in the community aggravated from the church, noting that it was  part of the measure employed to calm the aggrieved parties before government wades in to settle the crisis.

Eretan said that the closure was recommended as a temporary solution to the problem to avert similar crisis which first erupted in 1986, when a life was lost in the civil unrest.

“Religious crisis is very dangerous. If we are not careful many lives may be lost. The same mechanism used then we have applied.” he explained.

The Police Public Relations Officer of the Ondo State Police Command, Mr. Femi Joseph was unavailable for comments at the time of filing this report as his telephone line was switched off when our correspondent put a call across to him.

Source: punch