There was a mild drama on Sunday in Abuja as three pastors tried to evade arrest by operatives of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Ministerial Enforcement Team for violating the ban on congregational worship in the territory.
The Pastors who had partitioned a mountain at the Federal Housing area of Lugbe District denied stewardship of the large crowd met worshipping at the hilltop on the arrival of the task force team.
The tasks force stormed the area on Sunday, but could not differentiate between the worshippers and their religious leaders who were trading words among themselves.
After a brief interrogation, the three pastors were identified from the crowd although one of them, Pastor Vitalis Udeazi of Dominion Chapel struggled to conceal his identity.
Pastor Udeazi said none of his members were present at the time the task force arrived at the mountain top, but this did not go down well with other pastors who protested vehemently that he was one of them.
Luck, however, ran out on him when some members pointed at him as their pastor. He still insisted that they were his prayer members.
Pastor Joshua Olaniru of Liberty Gate Ministry, who argued that he was not among those holding worship session, a resident of the community availed the taskforce of a video clip which showed the cleric holding a worship session, a development which had led to a fight about an hour before the taskforce personnel arrived.
Also another cleric, Pastor Ibitoye Kayode of the Liberty Faith Gospel Church, denied ownership of the large crowd worshipping at the hilltop.
Chairman of the task force, Ikharo Attah expressed disappointment with the clerics for denying the large group of worshippers. He queried;
“why are you all denying these large groups of worshippers? No one among you agreed that anyone came to worship with them even when they turned out in large numbers. One of you even went ahead to deny being a pastor and that is very disappointing.”
The Clerics were consequently arraigned before a Mobile Court presided over by Magistrate Akonni who found them guilty and fined them N5,000 each in addition to three hours of community service.
Watch the video below:
— Official FCTA (@OfficialFCTA) May 17, 2020