The African Church Diocese of the Uyo Central has distanced itself from the letter issued by Rev. Richard Peter suspending Barr Inibehe Effiong and all those who took part at the August 14,2017 protest in Uyo.
In a release signed by the Bishop of the Diocese, Rt Rev. James Bamidele, the church said it was surprised at the letter as no such letter was ever discussed at the Diocesan council, adding that no worshipper has been so suspended.
The church stated that “no member has the power to singlehandedly suspend anybody. The church has a standard for leadership. It is misleading and does not represent the views of the Bishop of Uyo Central Diocese”
The author of the letter purportedly emanating from The African Church confirmed that he had no such authorization from the Church hierarchy to issue the said letter. Rev. Richard E. Peter, who signed the controversial letter, said in a telephone interview with National Newstrack, that the African Church had nothing to do with the letter, saying it was entirely his initiative.
Rev. Peter stated that he was still at the stage of processing the letter before it was sent to the appropriate authorities for action when the letter leaked. He said that he was yet to even print out the letter when it started circulating it, a claim which seems farfetched considering that the letter had already been signed before it was circulated.
The Church was not aware of what I was doing. CAN also had nothing to do with it. I just thought on my own that it was a good idea to suspend them. I then made out the letter then sent it to some friends and my group for their advice and the next I saw was that it started circulating in the social media, he told National Newstrack.
Asked if he still stands by what he had written, Rev Peter said, “I cant say for now until I get legal advice on it. That is to say, whether CAN has the power to suspend such people or whether they have the right to go against the government by protesting the way they did”.
On whether he regrets his action, Peter said it was unfortunate that the letter got out before the Church and CAN could decide on whether it was correct for the letter to go out or not.
“For now, I know that the church has already sent out a disclaimer on the letter. They are also going to deal with the situation administratively. That is all I can say about the letter for now,” he concluded.
Rev. Richard E. Peter had in a letter addressed to Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), titled Suspension of Bar Inibehe Effiong & Other Protesters of Government Policy, purportedly expressed dissatisfaction over the ugly incident of protest carried out by Barr Inibehe Effiong and other indigenes of Akwa Ibom state of which majority are Christians.
Continuing, Rev Peter wrote, “No sane individual can wake up and start protesting against the government of Akwa Ibom state, owing to the fact that Akwa Ibom state is one of the economy recovery/Investment center Globally (sic).
“No sane individual can as well campaign against the excellence performance of His Excellency Deacon Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, in line with his dynamic and divinely leadership qualities. Our Governor deserves respect, appreciation and maximum support; instead some evil minded/demonic sponsored persons disguise themselves in the name of protest to destroy the hard earned reputation/achievement of His Excellency, the Governor.
“We commend the amiable Governor for his efforts so far in making our dear state the desire of many and we endorse him for 2019 and beyond”
The letter went on to ask the Christian Association of Nigeria to set up a “panel to investigate all the Christians who took part in the protest and suspend them and to write to the Law Enforcement Agencies to ignore/arrest any subsequent protest of like manner.”
Rev Peter in his letter further urged CAN to ask Barr Effiong and his colleagues to within 30 day apologize to the governor and then that pastors of the said protesters be “suspended should they fail to educate them on the dangers of standing against Divine Rule.”
It will be recalled that Rev Peter had some months ago asked that any person that criticizes the administration of Gov Udom Emmanuel should be stoned to death.