The Police in Akwa Ibom said they shut down the Quo Iboe Church on No.112, Ikot Ekpene Road, on Sunday, to prevent further clash among members.
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, is reported to be a worshipper in the parish. The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Zaki Ahmed, said this while speaking with newsmen on Monday in Uyo. Ahmed said there was clash among the worshippers on Sunday during which many worshippers sustained injuries.
He also said that the Police sealed off the church when information reached them that one of the factions in the dispute was coming to foment trouble that might result in breakdown of law and order.
Armed police officers in 10 trucks arrived Qua Iboe Church at 112 Ikot Ekpene Road about 6am on Sunday morning and barricaded the church entrance, preventing worshipers from entering the premises.
The church which was founded 137 years ago in Akwa Obio (Big Town) in Ibeno, Akwa Ibom State by Samuel Bill, a Scottish Missionary, has been fictionalized over the issue of change of name from it’s original name to United Evangelical Church. The original name Qua Iboe was the adulterated pronunciation of the Akwa Obio by the white missionary.
Some natives of Oku who claimed that their fore bearers gave the land for the building of the church more than 100 years ago, are against changing the church’s name from Qua Iboe to United Evangelical Church.
The group under the auspices of the Oku Clan Council of Traditional Rulers and Chief issued a statement that they are willing to donate another parcel of land for the building of another church that could be named United Evangelical Church so that peace could reign in Qua Iboe Church. The group noted that their forebears gave the land to Qua Iboe Church, and not to the United Evangelical Church.
On his part, Governor Udom Emmanuel tried to resolve the rift between the church factions calling them to peace meetings at his instance. One of those meetings held in February 2017 at the Government House, Uyo. In attendance were a former Chief of Air Staff in Nigeria, Nsikak Eduok, and a retired major-general and one time director-general of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Edet Akpan. The two are sitting members of the board of elders of the original church and wield serious influence over the church affairs and decisions.
The governor during his last year visit to the church in Etinan spoke about his past effort to reconcile the church. “I gathered all the pastors and elders and told them I had only five minutes to reconcile the church if one person can raise his hand and say this is what God says about the situation. Nobody could do that.
“So, because nobody could do that, I could only say let everybody hold their peace and let’s see what God would do,” he said.
“Nobody can say this is what God is saying about this matter. We need to find a Christian solution to the issue.
“I believe very soon, very very soon, this should be over and we will be back again as one body.”
He was said to have called on members of the church to allow the serving Pastor Ibup Emmah to stay on but some members of the church are opposed to the continued tenure of Rev. Emmah.
It is unclear who was behind the police presence in the church on Sunday.