The Kaduna State government yesterday shut down two Assemblies of God Churches in Saminaka; Lere Local Government Area of the state and three institutions belonging to the church.
The Saminaka district of the church has been embroiled in leadership crisis leading to factionalisation of the church in the area.
The churches that came under government’s hammer as a result of the crisis are the Assemblies of God Church, Nmbare and the Assemblies of God Church (Jerusalem) both in Saminaka.
Institutions affected by the measure are the Theological Seminary of Northern Nigeria, (TSNN), Shalom Comprehensive College, and AGC Evangelist Hospital in Saminaka owned by the church.
A statement by the special assistant, media and publicity to Governor Nasir El-Rufai, said the decision to close the churches and the three institutions was taken at 15th meeting of the state security council on Tuesday.
He said members of the council while deliberating on the leadership crisis affecting the church, noted that the crisis has led to disintegration of order in the church, and has raised tension between followers of the rival camps students of the school and seminary owned by the church.
“The Council reviewed previous efforts made to resolve the crisis. It noted that they were aborted by those involved in the leadership tussle, principally to preserve their personal interests with little concern for the common good, and the peace and security of Kaduna State”, it said.
The state government offered to admit those affected as a result of the measures into government schools or hospitals but directed that the status quo should remain with regard to farmlands, houses and other assets of the church pending resolution of the leadership crisis which is before the Supreme Court.
The state government said it will not tolerate the use of religion and ethnicity to cause crisis in the state, stressing that it will prosecute anyone implicated in the matter.
District superintendent of the Assembly of God Church, Rev. Haruna Tutu, when contacted, said though the church was privy to some of the decisions taken by the state government through a meeting it held with leaders of the two factions, Shalom Comprehensive College and the two churches were not included among those to be closed.
He said the decision earlier reached with the state government in respect to the two churches on the 25th of July, was to allow the churches continue since the matter is in the Supreme Court.
“We have been living peacefully, one session starts at 7:30 AM and closes by 9:30 and the other starts by 10 to 12 noon, but the other group went back and protested and the deputy governor met with us to take a decision but the two churches were not mentioned,” he said.
He said closing down the two churches is not necessary as the matter is not something the police cannot handle.
“This drastic decision; there is an undertone that nobody can understands.
Government should respect the rule of law since the matter is in court and people should be given the right to worship. We cannot start fighting government but the government should look into the matter and reopen the two churches,” he said.