Church activities at the St. Luke Anglican Church, Sapele, Delta State, have remained grounded following the over three weeks protest engaged by members of the church, calling for the immediate removal of the Diocesan Bishop, Rev. Blessing Erifeta.
The protest which assumed a new dimension early this week took members of the Anglican Communion, marching through the major streets in Sapele, brandishing various placards, insisting that the Primate of the Anglican Communion, His Lordship, Rt. Rev. Nicholas Okoh, must sack the Diocesan Bishop for permanent peace to return to the Diocese.
As at the time of filing this report, the church’s entrance has remained under heavy lock and keys as the protesting youths, women and other leaders of the church have remained resolute, maintaining that the church cannot be opened for worship until the Primate shows the Presiding Bishop the way out of the Sapele Diocese.
Consequently, worshippers have converted the outskirt of the church for the past three weeks to worship ground.
The protest which commenced over three weeks ago with the youths of St. Luke Cathedral Church, Boyo and Christ Anglican Church Okpe, all in Sapele has now spread to involve the entire Diocese with all the Anglican Branches in the Diocese combining force to press home the call for the Primate to sack the Presiding Bishop and restore normalcy to the embattled House of God.
Those at the centre of the protest, carried placards which bore the inscriptions, “say No to Greed, Bishop Erifeta Must Go, We are tired of Embezzlement, Bishop stop calling us Witches and Wizards, we don’t want to kill Another Venerable, Stop Insulting Our Elders in Church, Enough is Enough of embezzlement of church funds and intimidation, We need Accountability of church fund, Erifeta stop Cursing our People, We Say No to foreign Trips”.
The churchwarden of the St. Luke Cathedral, the headquarters of the Diocese, Mr. Oghenero Onojorhoevwo, who led the protest, revealed that since the protest began over three weeks ago, a lot of water has passed under the bridge, saying their names and photographs have been taken to places for unknown reasons, with threat messages sent to them on daily basis.
Mr. Onojorhoevwo maintained that the church members do not have personal grudge against the Bishop Erifeta, but their concern is to reinvigorate the dying Diocese which is going into extinction and bring back members who have migrated to other denominations following the maladministration of the church in the city.
He told the members who defied the heavy down pour to march round the city that the Bishop of the embattled Diocese and the Archbishop of the Bendel Province Most Revd. Friday Imakhae, were working hand in hand to ensure the Primate does not visit the Diocese to have a personal assessment of the grievance of members of the Diocese against the Bishop.
He explained to the worshippers who commenced their open air service at Boyo Road prior to resumption of the protest that Bishop Erifeta and his cronies must leave Sapele Diocese for the Church of God to move forward and have needed peace.
The alleged sins of the Bishop include highhandedness, greed, disrespect to elders, misappropriation of church funds, travelling abroad with church funds and other obnoxious acts levelled against the Bishop by the membership of the church.
Meanwhile, the Bishop of the Diocese, Rev. Blessing Erifeta has refused to pick calls and also failed to respond to text messages.
But one of the close associates of the Bishop, Venerable Oyibo Otemu, who picked the call to his phone unaware of who was calling, said, “no comment sir, thank you”.