The Seventh Day Adventist Church on Saturday sealed off its Abia North Conference at Umuoriehi in Umuahia North Local Government Area over a leadership crisis rocking the headquarters.
The leaders sent worshippers out of the church and locked the gate with a padlock immediately after the service.
They displayed placards with different inscriptions at the gate such as: Sealed; End of an era; We pray for a new era of unity, peace, mission mindedness and genuine spirituality.
Speaking with newsmen, Godson Chukwuocha, Leader, Umuahia/Ubakala/Umunneochi Zone, said they were putting an end to the leadership crisis that had lingered at the church headquarters for the past four years.
Chukwuocha said that the members were assembled from the 17 districts that make up the Conference.
He said that the church decided to pass “a vote of no confidence” on Pastor Enyinnaya Uguru with his executive and asked them to leave office because their tenure had expired.
Chukwuocha said that Uguru and his executive had been occupying the position for the past 12 years and had refused to leave as against the church policy of a four-year tenure.
He explained that their tenure expired in February, but the Union, which is superior to the Conference, extended it to August after the plea by Uguru and his executive.
“The Union again extended it and expected them to organise another election and hand over to a new executive between September 21 and September 23, but they refused,” he said.
Also, Iroabuchi Alozie, the Secretary, Umuahia/Ubakala/Umunneochi Zone, said the church has a policy document that stipulates a four-year tenure.
According to Alozie, who is also the Secretary, Umuahia District: “Today (Saturday) is supposed to have been the swearing-in of the new executive.
“But because we are men and women of integrity, we will not watch impunity continue in the church of God.
“This is the fourth year we are into this crisis and we cannot continue like this.
“We want to stop it now.”
The District Leader, Adventist Women Ministry, Priscilla Ogidi, said the women had pleaded with Uguru and his executive to leave the office for peace to reign, but they refused.
A Pastor in Umuahia District, Festus Uzochukwu, expressed displeasure over the leadership crisis, saying: “This is God’s church and there’s no battle anybody can fight for God.”
Uzochukwu said the people decided to come out to put an end to it.
Eberechi Uwaoma, the Assistant Secretary of the youth wing in the district, said the church hierarchy was aware of the crisis and had ordered Uguru and his executive to vacate, but they didn’t.
“We are not locking our members out, rather we want Pastor Uguru and his team to keep off so that we can have our new leadership, people that can lead with the fear of God,” Uwaoma said.
Uguru or any of his executives could not be reached for comment in spite of attempts by the News Agency of Nigeria as they were said to have left their residences in the church premises before the service.