After going through the story written by one pastor Douglas Jonathan about one Chief Okey Ikoro a renowned politician and industrialist in Imo State about a burnt church in Owerri Imo State, we decided to investigate the story and was shocked by our findings.
On our visit to the site we saw that it was a make shift canopy of about 30ft by 60ft barely big enough to contain 200 people mounted on a temporary rope and scrap metal on an empty land.
Our interview with some church members revealed that the church has a lot of issues not only with the inhabitant of the area which is a purely residential area not meant for commercial activity but also with other pastors from whom they have taking away there congregation after establishing the church there in the neighbourhood in September 2018.
We were meant to understand that the battle for customers between the pastors of the rhythm 5 church as is called and other pastors located near Imo University has been raging on especially since all the members are mostly students below the age of 25years from Imo University and other institutions.
The war had reached a level where the pastors are issuing personal threats to each other on extinguishing one another’s church.
We also learnt that sometimes ago the church was invaded and their canopy was thorn into shreds by the invaders which were identified as young boys from maybe the competing church.
The pastor was said to have engaged in some dubious businesses that lead to there been chased away from their previous location at Owerri last year July.
We made inquiry on Chief Okey Ikoro whom the pastor accused of demolishing his church and we discovered that he lives next door to the church in a palatial building with a 40ft state of the art swimming pool.
Further inquiry revealed that he is a very prominent member of Imo State, a gentle man, and a former president of Imo Chamber of commerce, an industrialist with over 200 employees working in his factories.
A community leader, we were informed when we inquired from the neighbourhood that he is too much above such accusation, that he built a church for his community and he is a good Christian, a philanthropist to the core, some said he can never stoop so low to that level.
However, the neighbourhood informed us that he has no need for that as Owerri Capital Development Authority (OCDA) had already issued an abatement notice and evacuation order to the church and the matter is also before shell camp police station, also the neighbourhood association has already decided to go to court against the church if they fail to vacate, and Chief Okey Ikoro is the chairman of the neighbourhood association.
When we called Chief Ikoro on phone about the issue he spoke to us quite calmly that his lawyers are taking necessary actions on issue of defamation of character and false accusation against the church and the pastors.
When asked what he thinks that really happened to the church, he said that the pastors are probably fighting over who gets the highest booty of there extortion racket from poor students.