In this interview, he spoke on the crisis bedeviled the incorporated Assemblies of God Nigeria. He said that the embattled Rev. Prof Paul Emeka remains the authentic and rightful General Superintendent of the church. Excerpts. What gave you the locus to talk on the Assemblies God Church Nigeria crisis? Firstly, being a rights activist, I have a radio programme where I advance the issues of civic responsibilities and human rights and that was how Reverend Prof. Paul Emeka called into the programme to make an enquires about his right.
I now sort an opportunity to have a conference with him so that I can enlighten him more properly order than the radio telephone line. It was when I met with him that I appreciated the gravamen of his right that was violated and he requested if I can assist him in any form not being a trained legal practitioner. I accepted to act as his attorney by being his agent to make representation because of his limited knowledge of the workings of the court and Nigerian constitution.
I accepted that responsibility and advised him that the Supreme Court struck out his suit on human right and therefore he needs to go to Federal high court to challenge their illegal action of his purported removal as a trustee of the Assemblies of God Church Nigeria and that he has to engage the services of a legal practitioner.
The fact in the issue is the matters of interpretations of the provisions of the incorporated trustees under Companies & Allied Matters Act (CAMA), and whether the control and the management of such a body can be left for all comers to the effect that the letter with which some individuals that are not members of the board of trustee have no authority under the law and under CAMA to issue such letter.
I have a strength of authority from the decision and the findings made by the learned juris Hon. Justice Ekekere-Ekun JSC in the decision by the Supreme Court reported in Paul Emeka against Chidi Okoroafor in NWLR part 1577 at page 410 of particular note is the finding by the juris Ekekere-Ekun that the main flank that Emeka should purse is the illegal nature of the constituted illegal body that authored the letter of the 6, March 2014 and the unconstitutional act of those individuals who have no iota of authority whatsoever, to have congregated themselves in the parish to now sit in judgement against the chairman of the board of trustees of the incorporated trustees of the Assemblies of God Nigeria. That is the platform which I told my principal that he has to go to court to challenge. That the fundamental right procedure he used in initiating his original action in persona was wrong.
What the Supreme Court said in that case, Prof. Emeka you came to this court with the wrong procedure that the trial high court of Enugu didn’t have jurisdiction to even hear your matter because the issue of service was not settled which is fundamental. The Supreme Court justices agreed with the finding of the Court of Appeal as far as service is concerned and the finding that Emeka’s issue ought to be squarely on the illegal nature of the congregation that issued a letter of 6th of March, 2014 and not fundamental rights. Moreso, the Supreme Court went to admonish Emeka’s lawyer who was suing an amorphous body for the enforcement of fundamental right and consequently the court struck out Emeka’s fundamental Right which he filed in the lower court – that means Emeka can go back to court if he so desires.
It was his appeal that was dismissed for lacking in merit. The substantive action that was brought to court was not heard by either the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court because of the fundamental vice that service was improper. So Emeka has the constitution behind him to go back to court. How do you get to know the case Chidi Okoroafor filed at the Court of Appeal? On the 25th April 2018, I stumbled into a proceeding Chidi Okoroafor filed at the Court of Appeal and I described it as a divine intervention. A divine intervention because there was an appeal which I never knew about and that appeal stemmed from an injunction giving at the High Court of Enugu on 13th day of March 2014. That injunction was against Chidi Okoroafor, Rev. Dr. Vincent Alaje; Rev. Dr. Ejikeme Ejem, Rev. Dr. Godwin Amonwa, Rev. Dr. Johnson Odii & others and these were the principal actors that Emeka has brought to the Federal High Court, in suit No. FHC/EN/ CS/ 37/18. The important issue in this matter was that the action that was instituted by three main actors who were filing that action for the benefit of Emeka were Rev. Dr. Ekenedilichukwu Ofordile, Rev. Dr. Jere Onyemaechi, and Rev. Dr. Nathan Udeze. These were the people that approach the court by a write of summons.
It was not a fundamental right action neither was it an action in contract. Because these are the fundamental issues most people don’t understand and it is for the interest of the public to understand. It is an action not in fundamental right neither is it an action in contract. The claim of the parties of particular importance is the relief (e) in this proceeding I am talking about which was a suit No. E/82/2014. This action was instituted on 4th of March, 2014 and that relief was important because it was an injunction restraining the defendants in the lower court Chidi Okoroafor and Co, their agents, sponsors from removing the plaintiff’s Rev. Prof Paul Emeka from office as General Superintendent of Assemblies of God Nigeria either through impeachment, suspension or any other unlawful means whatsoever, except through an election organized by the General Council of Assemblies of God. That is the bases of the interim order of injunction in the presence of the parties, it became on notice because the defendants counsel were in court and the exact wording of the court was for all the parties to revert back to their respective positions as at 4th day of March 2014.
There is a difference in action in Persona and in Rem because a person who doesn’t understand the principal of law can tell you that Emeka’s name is not there as a party. The exception to the rules is in matters of contractual relationship when you cannot take advantage of any judgement that you are not a party in even if it was made for your benefit. This is elementary law. This action is not in Persona, it is in Rem. The injunction was to restrain the bodies of those who are lawless from taken any step in that subject matter involving the office of the GS of the Assemblies of God occupant by the legitimate occupant, Rev. Prof Paul Emeka from doing anything that will undermine the rule of law.
The honourable court haven made that decree in the presence of their lawyers, they were dissatisfied; they brought an application before that same court on 17th day of March knowing fully well that they have been banned by the order of the court but they wanted an escape route. The honourable court in a considered ruling dated the 27th day of Mach, 2014 dismissed their motion on notice where they were asking that court that it has no jurisdiction, that the action should be dismissed. It was on the basis of this two decisions against Chidi Okoroafor and his gang that they decided to go on appeal which is their right. The order made by the Honourable court was to last until the motion on notice was to heard, they were too much in a hurry, they didn’t want the motion on notice to be heard because they want to complete their criminality.
They filed two notices of appeal respectively at the Court of Appeal and to everybody’s amusement, they have filed their written addresses and brief exchanged by the parties. It is also a fact that one of the respondents who was the plaintiff at the lower court had opted out but as the case is constituted there is a respondent who is still alive and well and that respondent is Prof. Ekenedilichukwu Offordile. And what they were doing was to undermine the judicial process and Rulè of Law to hide a fundamental fact that as at the time they were sued, Rev Okoroafor was still sued as Assistant General Superintendent and that was the position as at the 4th day of March, 2014 but because of their criminal mind they took steps to approach the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) with their illegal letter and made or induce them to change and remove Prof.
Paul Emeka the bonafide GS from his position as a trustee which enabled him as the general superintendent to be the chairman of the board of trustee who has all the capacity to take any decision on-behalf of the trustee. He is the only person that has a duty to protect the assets of the trusteeship. But unfortunately, was at the court of appeal when these matter was called up and I was able to obtain the certified true copies of processes they have filed in that court. They filed that processes in the court to liberate themselves from their illegalities unfortunately for them, the honourable justices of the Court of Appeal had in their own word told the counsel representing Okoroafor and his group in the presence of the counsel representing the Ekenedilichukwu Ofordile to the effect that the applicants’ notice of appeal was incompetent. It was in the same proceeding the counsel representing Okoroafor had now applied to court to enable him to go and amend the process.
So the critical issue is what is the position of Paul Emeka vis-à-vis the res before the Court of Appeal now. The position is that Okoroafor and his group are asking the Court of Appeal to set outside that order that have tired them down on the 4th of March, 2014. That is why they are in court, so for any uninformed lawyer to tell you that that action doesn’t contain the name of Prof Emeka is in fantail. It is only in contract that you can say that you cannot take advantage of judgement that is in your favour, otherwise the principles of lis pendens would be defeated. People think in vernacular. The action Nigerian Police have been taken against Paul Emeka and his group is because they were deceived by Chidi Okoroafor and co that they were the rightful occupant of the office and they can act on-behalf of the Assemblies. So as it stands today in the eyes of the law, the GS of the Assemblies of God as the order of the court presided over by Onovo J has not been set outside is Rev. Prof Paul Emeka.