Osun State Government is at loggerheads with the Christ Apostolic Church over a piece of land set aside for the building of an elementary school, FEMI MAKINDE writes.
Some of the protesters on Wednesday
When members of the Christ Apostolic Church, Araromi, Osun State converged on their church premises on Wednesday morning for a prayer session, many residents of the community did not know that the parishioners had what can be called a secondary agenda.
Little wonder, moments after their prayer, they marched out of the church, bearing with them already, prepared placards for a demonstration.
The CAC members were protesting the alleged invasion of their land by officials of the state government. According to the protesters, the government is reportedly planning to use the land for the building of a new elementary school.
Hitherto, the CAC Primary School and a Middle School existed in the premises. The state government owns both. Members of the church, who alleged that Governor Rauf Aregbesola was propagating an anti-Christ policy in the state, noted that they were protesting the forceful invasion of their land.
They noted that apart from encroaching on the church land, agents of the state also pulled down a conference centre still under construction.
“It was the forceful occupation of our church’s revival ground and the subsequent encroachment on the land where our private school is located for the construction of another school – that made us embark on the protest,” one of the protesters told our correspondent.
Particularly, some of the protesting youths accused the Chairman of O-School, an agency in charge of construction of new schools, Mr. Lai Oyeduntan, of masterminding the encroachment.
During the demonstration, the protesters reportedly pursued members of the O-School who came to map out the land for the building of the school.
The church also frowned on the alleged occupation of its revival ground for the construction of the Middle School, saying the action was an act in impunity.
The church secretary, Mr. Akin Olusegun, said he had written a letter dated January 13, 2014 to the governor, intimating him of the position of the church concerning the land. The church, he also said, had written to the police over the development.
Olusegun, who noted that the CAC had no problem with the recent classification of schools by the state, said the church prevailed on its members not to confront government officials and contractors who were building the Middle School.
However, declaring that the church would not tolerate the fresh move, he added, “The church will no longer allow government’s encroachment on its land.”
Instead, he advised the authorities to look for a land at the precinct of the CAC Primary School.
Olusegun said the President of CAC Worldwide, Pastor A.O. Akinosun, had met with Aregbesola on the encroachment issue.
Another twist to the story, he added, was that agents of the state had allegedly demolished the church’s multipurpose conference hall still under construction to pave the way for the new school. The hall, which according to him has gulped N10m, is for the CAC’s Good Women Association.
He said, “Even while a response from the government was still awaited, the leaders of the O’ School, in flagrant display of power, laid siege to a portion of our church’s land. On the instruction of the leader of O’ School, the new Middle School building has been built on the church’s land instead of positioning the building on the land of the existing CAC Primary School.
“In the process, a multi-purpose conference hall under construction for the Good Women Association in which over N10m had been spent was demolished. The church needs adequate compensation for the destruction of the conference hall.
“The land acquired by the church, covered by the certificate of occupancy dated August 2, 2007, is meant for the following purposes: revival ground/ Easter carnival, multi-purpose conference hall and expansion of the existing Christ Ambassador Comprehensive College, including building of students’ hostel.
“Enough is enough. We have exercised enough restraints. Therefore, the leadership of O’ School should be held responsible for the consequences of his action.”
However, the state government has explained that the governor had nothing against Christians as claimed by some persons.
The Commissioner for Information, Mr. Sunday Akere, who spoke to our correspondent, promised that the governor would call the leadership of the church in order to resolve the issue.
He added, “We will call the church and the issues raised will be resolved. Let me tell you again, Governor Aregbesola has nothing against Christians or Christianity and he has demonstrated this in many ways.”
“The church leadership will be called and I am sure that the governor and relevant ministry officials will look into it and it will be resolved very soon.”