The National President of Evangelical Church Winning All, Dr. Jeremiah Gado, has distanced the church from the protest embarked upon by members against the atrocities of Fulani herdsmen in the country, saying “they are on their own.”
Earlier, on Sunday major streets in Jos, Plateau State capital were shut down as over 2,000 members of ECWA Goodnews Church, took to the streets because of the protest.
The protesters led by the Senior Pastor, ECWA Goodnews Church in Ahmadu Bello Way, Jos, Rev. Joshua Tuwan took the decision in reaction to the directive of the President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Dr. Samson Supo Ayokunle and General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Musa Asake.
But Gado said the protest by his members amounted to illegality because “ECWA is not answerable to CAN.”
According to him, ECWA and the chairman of CAN in Plateau State, Soja Bewarang, had jointly decided to opt for prayers and not protest.
He said, “We are not answerable to CAN, ECWA members are answerable to me, the ECWA President. Had we been properly consulted, we would have supported and come out enmasse. It was poorly communicated and poorly coordinated; that is the problem. It was done in a hurry, CAN didn’t do a good job.
“Those who protested in ECWA did that in reaction to CAN directive but they never heard from their leaders. So, those who did it are on their own. The protest was against the killings by suspected herdsmen because of a call by CAN but we were never consulted.
“So, some people decided to do things on their own. We in ECWA are bothered by the killings, but what we wanted was to use the Sunday (as we have declared April 27-29) as days of prayer and fasting for the release of a female student of Government and Science Technical College, Dapchi in Borno State, Leah Sharibu, who is still in Boko Haram captivity.
“We wanted to keep it at that when CAN issued a press statement without calling us. I concluded with the Plateau State CAN Chairman (Soja Bewarang) and we agreed that we are not going to be involved in the protest but pray. And if there is going to be protest, it should be well coordinated so that it will have the desired effect.
“It is not that I am against the CAN protest, it is just that it was poorly communicated and poorly coordinated. ECWA didn’t issue any directive for protest. ECWA members should listen to their leaders. That is us and not the (national) leadership of CAN.”
Bewarang confirmed that Plateau CAN and ECWA have opted of the protest but insisted on prayers and fasting.
During the recent visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Jos in March 2018, Bewarang had been condemned for his utterances during the Town Hall meeting where he endorsed the re-election of governor Simon Lalong in the 2019 general election.
According to him, tithes and offerings in churches had improved because the government had been very friendly Christianity.
Bewarang said, “The person who told you (that we didn’t protest), must have told you why. You have contacted people and they have told you. Since you have heard from the ECWA President, then you have heard from an authority. CAN wanted to us into what they wished. But we chose to pray rather than demonstrate. Prayer is more than demonstration.”
When asked if the decision he took does not amount to going against the directive of CAN national leadership, Bewarang said, “well, that will be your interpretation. You can say anything. Did CAN national leadership tell you that we went against their decision? I protested in my house.”
While condemning the ongoing attacks, in which two Reverend Fathers were killed in Benue State, the protesters including men, women and youths, had also demanded the release of a female student of Government and Science Technical College, Dapchi in Borno State, Leah Sharibu, who is still in Boko Haram captivity.
After church service, the protesters took over the ever-busy Ahmadu Bello Way in Jos with repeated shouts of “enough is enough.”
Radical Senior Pastor ECWA Goodnews Church, Rev. Joshua Tuwan, who led the protest said several excuses being spewed out by the Federal Government had shown that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari “is clueless about governance.”
He therefore called on Nigerians to vote out the present government of the All Progressives Congress in the 2019 general elections.
According to him, far as history is concerned, the city of Jos remained the umbilical cord of the gospel in Northern Nigeria.
He said, “Significantly, we are part of CAN and the ideals for which they stand which is justice and righteousness. We have decided to come out because we feel we have been quiet for a very long time.
“We elected the leadership of the present government because we believe in them. We came to the conclusion that three years is enough to get results. And the fact that no result is coming out but only in the media with continuous killings in tens and twenties, calls for serious concern.
“Enough is enough; that is why we feel compelled in our conscience not to be quiet about the things that are happening in our country. We all know, three years back, we stood and voted this government into power with the full understanding that they were going to turn the situation for all Nigerians.
“But the reveres is what we are seeing; the many excuses that the government has advanced have shown clearly that they are clueless about governance. If one of the most important thing a government should do which is the protection of lives and property, and for three good years, this country will be held by few individuals that are yet to be identified with their names, then something is wrong.
“I remember the former Head of State of Nigeria, late Gen. Sani Abacha. He said if any problem will last more than 24 hours, then the government is part of it. Abacha is dead, but the truth remains truth. We have discovered that this problem is taking a dimension to eliminate certain group of people and these people are identified collectively by what they believe in.
“We stand to oppose and to tell the world that this government must rise up to its responsibilities and ensure that the culprits behind the killings are arrested. We want them to be prosecuted, if this government means serious business or else since 2019 is coming, Nigerians should show them the way out.
“We want to say something, this is religious. For you to declare that a group of collective students are taken away and for all to be free with one (Leah Sharibu) kept and that person is a christian, we want members of the National Assembly, the State Houses of Assembly and indeed every person that there is truth and we want the truth to stand out. The situation appears as if everyone is caged. But we believe that our freedom is just by the door.
“We want Leah Sharibu to be out. We do not understand what is going on in the hearts of the parents of the Chibok girls. These girls were abducted because of their faith. If this government is not religious, let them produced these girls. We will continue to shout, let the security agencies begin and start picking us up. Let us see, if there are no citizens, whether there will be government. Everyone is scared, but we believe that freedom is just by the door.”