We have come across a Press Release issued by Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, Secretary to the Akwa Ibom State Government where he alleged that “the Akwa Ibom State Government and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Monitoring Team was attacked and brutalized by Pastors and some members of Christ Embassy Church, while on a routine compliance/inspection visit to the Church today at the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Road, Uyo”.

It is unfortunate that the Akwa Ibom State Government has chosen to act based on tissues of lies and absolute falsehood that only occurred in the figment of the imaginations of those peddling same. As a Church, we are shocked that government has lend itself out as a willing tool to individuals and groups who see themselves as appendage of government and are all out to use mechineries of government to intimidate, oppress, harass and malign Christ Embassy Church in Akwa Ibom State for stating without equivocation that the Church is not and has never been a member of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

To set the record straight, we totally debunk the fabricated stories making the rounds which the Akwa Ibom State Government acted on.The fact is that today, Sunday the 21st day of June, 2020, we held our usual service which started by 8:30am and ended at about 10:45am, while adhering strictly to the widely circulated guidelines as provided by the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC).

After the service, the congregants departed to their homes as directed by our Pastor. However, we were surprised to see an online social media publication by one Rev. Osondu Ahirika, with the caption “COVID-19: Christ Embassy Church dares A’Ibom State Government” - Bars Monitoring Committee”. Upon enquiry, we were informed by one of our Pastors, Pastor Emmanuel Effiong, that after the Church Service, Mr. Enobong Uwah, an appointee of the Akwa Ibom State Government, who heads the CAN monitoring committees, in company of people which Rev. Ahirika identified in his online syndicated write up as “Rev. Dr. Ndueso Ekwere (CAN Chairman), Dr. Stella Udoh and other representatives of the security agencies (sic)” arrived the Church premises around 11.30am and insisted that they must gain access into the Church.

They were informed that the Church service for the day had ended about an hour earlier and members dispersed, but obviously acting a scripted plot, they tried to force their way into the compound. While they tried to force their way in, a member of the church media team, Gabriel Ekpa, who was stationed outside before the team arrived, captured all that transpired with the Church Canon camera, but was assaulted and brutalized by Mr. Enobong Uwah, who rained blows on him and confiscated the camera which contained a true reflection of what occurred, ran into his SUV and zoomed off, with members of his team following suit.

When Pastor Emmanuel Effiong and other members of the Church went to the Area Command of the Nigerian Police to incident the case of assault and stealing of the Church camera, they were informed that the team had already reported their concocted stories and the police was on their way to the Church to invite representatives of the Church. As we file this statement, Pastor Emmanuel Effong has been detained on the instructions of the Akwa Ibom State Government.

It is highly preposterous that the team has turned round to play the victim card, when in actual sense, the Church was deliberately targeted. It turns fact and objective reasoning heads down for a team that goes around with armed policemen to claim that it was attacked by unarmed men and they did not make an arrest. Facts are sacred and from even the pictures circulated on behalf of the team show that there was no form of altercation between the parties involved.

In an era of social media, the team claimed it was assaulted, yet there is no video to capture the act, rather what has been pushed out to the public domain are mere still photographs. As a Church that respects the rule of law, we had envisaged this gang up and also took steps to seek protection of the law by approaching the Federal High Court of Nigeria sitting in Uyo, in Suit No. FAC/UY/FHR/106/2020, between Pastor Emmanuel Effiong v. Rev. (Dr.) Ndueso Ekewre & 2ors., this obviously must have also contributed to today’s drama.

While we are not against the state government carrying out its statutory duties, we state with all amount of humility that Christ Embassy Church has existed in our dear state for over twenty five years without any issue with any of the past governments or any association, rather we have contributed immensely to the development of the state through our several people oriented projects and word based ministry. We have been partners in development with the Akwa Ibom State Government and chosen to remain bipartisan at all times.

We totally condemn the closing down of our Church and detention of our Pastor, Pastor Emmanuel Effiong, who has been detained by the Commissioner of Police, without giving us the right to fair hearing and state that this action is borne out of malice, deep seated hatred and calculated attempt to malign the Church for disassociating herself from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). We call on the Akwa Ibom State Government to unconditionally release Pastor Emmanuel Effiong, the church camera which captured a true reflection of what transpired today and withdraw the order closing our Church.

Pastor Kelvin James Atang

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