Irate youths from the Urora community in Edo State, on Sunday, unleashed terror on the pastor and members of the City of God Rest Ministry for allegedly violating the community chief priest’s directive that churches should end their services by 8am for the annual Ikpoleki festival.
The General Overseer of the City of God Rest Ministry, Pastor Destiny Eguavoen, who was on the pulpit when the youth attacked the church, was beaten, while the congregation ran in various directions.
An eyewitness said many were injured during the attack, especially old women and children.
The chief priest of the community and Ohen Ugbodeyaen of Urora, Chief Ugiagbe Aiwaguore, had directed owners of shops in the community and residents to stay indoors during the celebration of the annual Ikpoleki festival.
All churches were asked to end their Sunday services before 8am.
The Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in the state, Bishop Oyenude Kure, kicked against the order, saying it violated the freedom of worship as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.
Bishop Kure asked churches in Urora to go about their normal services on Sunday.
He said the restriction of movement was unacceptable to the body of Christ.
It was gathered that youths in the community moved from street to street to ensure compliance with the order as shops were closed and some churches hurriedly ended their services, while others refused to open.
Many residents of the community remained indoors.
At the City of God Rest Ministry, the youth were peeved that the pastor was still preaching by 9am and disrupted the service.
Members of the church ran away as the youth used chairs to beat anybody in sight.
Pastor Eguavoen told PUNCH Metro on the telephone that he was badly injured in the attack.
He said he was at the police headquarters and that the leadership of CAN had promised to take over the matter.
Eguavoen stated, “We were in the church and I saw a man standing in the front pointing at me. It was a few minutes after 9am. I told my members to concentrate and let me finish the service, but the youth stormed in and started beating us.
“They said we did not comply with their directive. They told us to conduct our services between 6am and 8am, but we pastors met and said Sunday is a day of our worship and there was no way they could stop us.”
The spokesman for the community, Sunday Osagiede, said they gave churches in the area enough time to conduct their services on the Ikpoleki festival day.
The chief priest said all the pastors agreed to hold their services between 6am and 8am.
The police spokesman in the state, DSP Chidi Nwabuzor, said the matter was being investigated.
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