Three pastors of new generation churches on Sunday in the Federal Capital Territory denied their ministries and members in order to evade arrest by the Ministerial Enforcement Team.
The pastors are Ibitoye Kayode of the Liberty Faith Gospel Church, Joshua Olaniru of Liberty Gate Ministry and Vitalis Udeazi of Dominion Chapel, all in Lugbe a satellite town along the airport road.
The clerics were arraigned before the Mobile court presided by Magistrate Idayat Akonni and fined them N5,000 each in addition to three hours community service.
Earlier, while acting on a tip-off, the enforcement team had stormed the mountain top in Sabon-Lugbe where they arrested the three pastors for violating the ban on congregational worship in the nation’s capital.
Upon sighting the team, the pastors mingled with the congregation.
After a brief interrogation, the three pastors were identified from the crowd although Udeazi struggled to conceal his identity.
He said none of his members was present at the time the taskforce arrived the mountain top. This did not go down well with other pastors who protested vehemently that he was one of them.
The matter came to a standstill until some members in the crowd identified him as their pastor.
Olaniru was also exposed by a resident of the community who tendered a video clip to the taskforce where the cleric was holding a worship session.
Speaking to the pastors, the Chairman of the taskforce, Ikharo Attah, queried the pastors for denying their members.
“Why are you all denying these large groups of worshippers? No one among you agreed that anyone came to worship with them even when they turned out in large numbers. One of you even went ahead to deny being a pastor,” he said.
Another pastor, Effiong Bassey of the Holiness Revival Ministry Church in Karamajiji, was also arrested for holding a church service to mark the 60th birthday of a retired military colonel, P.E. Ebong, who left the military in 2015.
Addressing the pastor, Attah said, “You cannot hold a worship service in defiance of the directives of the Commander-in-Chief just to mark the 60th birthday of a retired colonel.
The clerics were consequently arraigned before a Mobile Court presided over by Magistrate Akonni who found them guilty and fined them N5,000 each in addition to three hours of community service.