Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, has voided the suspension of Rev. Nicholas Anyanwu as the District Superintendent of Abuja District of the Assemblies of God Church Nigeria, describing it as ‘illegal and unconstitutional’.
The court equally voided the subsequent oral public announcement through the various pastors of the Assemblies of God churches, in Abuja on May 18, 2014, of Rev. Anyanwu’s as the District Superintendent of Abuja District of the church as ‘illegal, unconstitutional, null, void and of no legal effect whatsoever’.
Justice O. A. Musa, who delivered the judgment, equally declared as ‘criminal’ that the allegations of mismanagement of funds, stealing or conversion of N300 million church funds by Rev. Anyanwu constituted criminal offences for which he ought to be arraigned and tried by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Justice Musa, who delivered judgment in the fundamental enforcement suit brought by Rev. Nicholas Anyanwu, declared that by the provisions of section 36(1) of the 1999, the offences of mismanagement of funds, stealing and /or conversion of church funds and such other criminal offences as alleged by the respondents against him, are not triable by an administrative panel of inquiry or investigative panel as set up by the respondents to try him, but are triable only by a tribunal or court of competent jurisdiction set up by law.
The court equally declared that the act of the Respondents in constituting an investigative panel to investigate /try the allegation of mismanagement of funds, stealing and /or conversion of church funds and such other criminal offences, triable only by a tribunal or court of competent jurisdiction was illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.
Those named as Respondents in the suit marked FCT/HC/CV/1889/2014 has Rev. Chidi Okoroafor; Rev. Hyacinth Ngene; Rev. Tony Ese; Rev. Godwin Agada; Rev. Ugwu; Rev. Asuata; Rev. Adoga; Rev. Amaowoh; Rev. Anyimson; Rev. Mbe; Rev. John Ikoni and Bob James.
The above-named Respondents have all being ordered to pay the sum of N2 million in favour of Rev. Anyanwu as damages for the malicious publication titled “Disclaimer,” purportedly publicly dismissing him as a minister and member of the Assemblies of God Church of Nigeria, in flagrant breach of his fundamental rights to fair hearing as enshrined and guaranteed by Section 36 of the 1999 constitution.
The court threw out the submissions of the Respondents against the suit after holding “In my humble considered view, the applicant has indeed proved its case in support to his application.
“To that end therefore, I disagreed with the whole submissions of the respondents and dismiss same, and therefore entered judgement for the applicant and the whole orders sought in the motion on notice paper brought by the Applicant pursuant to order 2 Rules 1, 2, 3 and 5 of the fundamental right enforcement procedure 2009.”
Reacting to the judgement, an elated Rev. Anyanwu, sued for peace and unity among members of the church.