Justice Obiora Egwuatu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has expressed ‘great disappointment’ over the non christ like attitude of litigants in a constitutional matter in which the First Baptist Church, Garki, Abuja, has been embroiled in for more than a year now.
He lambasted the church members that if they, as Christians, were not ashamed of themselves and could not sit to agree, he the judge, was ashamed of them.
Hon. Justice Egwuatu said that people these days go to church, pretending to be Christians, carrying big big Bibles, but that they are not christ like fighting because of position and power, saying that the person the multitude want to occupy a position may not be the choice of God.
Making references from the Holy Bible on the making of kings, the judge said God rejected all those being proposed as king until David came into the scene, insisting that the one God wants may not even be among them now.
Sounding visibly angry, he said he had given the litigants enough leverage to settle and bring their terms of settlement before the court but that if as a church of God, they wanted to ‘dance naked’ by not agreeing to settle among themselves, he would at the next hearing open the case and give them the ‘space to dance naked’ in the court.
Some Concerned Elders of the Church had filed a suit before the Federal High Court, against the Incorporated Board of Trustees and the acting pastor, Revd. Tom Takpoture, seeking the interpretation of the Church’s constitution and asking that same be followed in the administration of the church.
The matter got complicated when counsel to one of the respondent filed an affidavit presenting another, grossly mutilated version of the constitution used in the registration, at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), of the Church and its Incorporated Board of Trustees in 2012 by its former pastor, now the President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, Revd. Israel Akanji.
The Concerned Elders have, however, insisted that the one filed by them in court is the authentic version as approved by the Church-in-Conference in 1998, long before Revd. Akanji was called to pastor the church.
Earlier, Barrister Bassey Offiong, Counsel, who has been representing one of the respondents had objected to the announcement of another legal representation for the Board of Trustees, claiming that his team had been the counsel to the two respondents.
Barrister Soremi, Counsel to the Board of Trustees, the first respondent, rose in defence of his appearance, quoting court rules that guarantee respondents the choice of who to represent them.
Hon. Justice Egwuatu, however, ruled that he would look at all the issues together at the next sitting. He then adjourned the case till May 17, 2023 for hearing.