The Enugu State Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA), yesterday demolished the 5, 000-capacity regional headquarter church of the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, located along Zik Avenue by P&T Bridge, Uwani in Enugu.
Justifying the demolition, Commissioner for ECTDA, Engr. Iyke Ugwegede, said it was done in line with the development control activities of the authority.
Ugwegede said the structure is about 2, 100 square metres in size, erected on two plots of land in the area. He described the structure as illegal and unapproved as an application for approval was rejected in March 2012.
The commissioner gave reasons for rejecting the application because the church building encroached into road reserves and a stream. He also said that the property was built in an area designated for commercial purposes and not for institutional use.
Justifying the demolition further, the state government said there was evidence of structural distress as there was clear evidence of failure of some of the reinforced concrete elements at the northern end of the structure’s basement area.
It added that it had given copious opportunity to the church to make good the illegality ever since then.
The government also said it has offered the church an alternative land allocation of about than 400sq metres, emphasising that it believes in the protection of all and sundry in the state, especially with the increase in rainfall and floods this year.
The Regional Pastor of the church, Kenedy Ude Ogaranya, described the exercise as an abomination and a rape on justice.
“Actually, this is a rape on justice, this case has been in court since September last year, we are yet to get justice and the judge is yet to deliver judgement. This is contempt of court, this is an abomination.
“The land they gave to us was in dispute between the Ngwo people and the Amaechi people, so they did not allow us to move into the land; I wrote to the Inspector-General of Police and the Enugu State commissioner for land; they asked the Ngwo people to keep off and just this Saturday, we had access into the land for the first time, we were able to put our pillars and clear the land.
“So, we are yet to enter the land properly and on Monday, they came here and gave us three days quit notice. To quit this place in three days? You gave us a parcel of land on Saturday and on Thursday, you are pulling down the church of God; it is to us a rape on justice against the body of Christ.
“All our materials are inside, musical instruments, seats, worship items, all our property, how can we remove them when two bulldozers are already pulling the structure down?
“On Wednesday, I went to the office of the Attorney- General of the state, the commissioner for land have served them letters, asking them to give us more time that we just moved into the land on Saturday, but all our pleas fell on deaf ears.
“We entered that land on Saturday; it was on Friday that the commissioner spoke to Ngwo people to stay clear of the land.”
The government on its side said; “No responsible government will stand and permit a predictable catastrophe to befall its people before taking appropriate steps.
“The state government has also identified other structures which must be demolished to prevent any calamity from happening,” said Ugwegede.