There is crisis in the leadership of the Delta State chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) over cash running into millions of naira said to have been released by Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State, to the association for the endorsement of his reelection bid.
A few weeks ago, the Delta State PFN leadership, led by Bishop Kingsley Enakirerhi of the Heroes of Faith Church, Ughelli, gathered select clerics in his church in the name of a 'Rally and Summit' in the area, with the state Governor as special guest of honour.
The event turned out to be an endorsement of Okowa for a second tenure in office.
Sensing that they had been used to extort millions of naira from the Governor under the guise of endorsement, which was not the initial plan for the purported ‘Rally and Summit’, a group, the ‘Coalition of Clergymen and Elders Forum’, made up of bishops and members of the ministers council of Nigeria, South-South, Delta chapter, under the PFN, in association with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), with more than 6,000 members, has dissociated itself from the event.
Addressing a press conference in Ughelli, headquarters of Ughelli North Local Government Area of the state, the leadership of the Coalition of Clergymen and Elders Forum, led by Bishop Johnson Ojakovo, accused the PFN leadership of corruption, abuse of leadership and deception.
"Enekirhere deceived us all to come for a Christian summit. We never knew he wanted us to endorse Okowa for the governorship election using the PFN and CAN,” the group said.
Frowning at "the level of corruption" within the Christian community, the coalition said the decision to separate themselves from the endorsement was part of their mandate in the vineyard of God.
Speaking at a press conference, Austine Imuero, Archbishop-elect and Presiding Bishop of Destiny of Life Ministries, Ovwian, also noted that CAN adopted the same deception to attract church leaders from various blocs recently in Ughelli.
According to Imuero, the meeting was convened purportedly for a CAN rally and prayers for peaceful elections, and turned out to be an endorsement for Okowa's second tenure.
He said: “They told us it was a CAN rally, but because of what happened earlier at the PFN summit, we were cautious that they wanted to play on us again and some of us refused to attend the Ughelli show where they once again endorsed Governor Okowa for a second term in office.
“Their intention is to force all church members to vote for Governor Okowa with a threat that any church leader who refuses to carry out the directive would be labelled a rebel, and we that stood out are being declared as rebels and we are happy to be so named and we are not afraid of their threat.
"So much money was given by the Governor to the leadership of PFN on the day of the endorsement, which led to commotion among the clergymen. We were all denied. The state PFN chairman refused us and did not make provision for any of the clergymen, except bishops that are close to him. The process of the endorsement given to Governor Okowa by the PFN was a deception orchestrated by the leader of PFN, Bishop Kingsley Enakirerhi, of Heroes of Faith, Ughelli.
"We were deceived to attend the event. They told us it was a summit for all pastors of PFN but when we got there, we found out it was a political meeting during which they endorsed the Governor. We are not politicians. We are not happy at the way we were deceived by the leadership of PFN. We are clergymen. We should not support any particular politician and we were supposed to pray for all politicians.
“Nobody should compel us on who to vote for. Nobody should come and pressurize us to vote for the incumbent Governor. We have, therefore, dissociated ourselves from the endorsement of Okowa and remain neutral on the issue of politics. Before the endorsement, PFN leadership was going round the 25 Local Government Areas of Delta State, supposedly to strengthen the PFN, but during the meetings, they were preaching the endorsement of Governor Okowa.
“We are angry and dissociate ourselves from the endorsements, because what they are doing is contrary to the word of God and they are setting a bad example for the younger generation of clergymen.”
A cross-section of pastors, who registered their annoyance, called for the immediate suspension of the Enakirerhi leadership of PFN, as well as the set-up of a panel to investigate the allegations.
"Do you know that the Enakirerhi leadership of the PFN refused to disclose what was dropped by Governor Okowa? Bishop Kingsley Enakirerhi was calling only bishops and pastors close to him to his office and was giving them peanuts for transport after using us to extort millions of naira from Governor Okowa," a pastor, who preferred not to be named, said.
In attendance at the press briefing were Bishop Johnson Ojakovo, Archbishop-elect Austine Imuero, Bishop Oghenegueke Gideon, Bishop Martins Echegbe, Apostle Godspower Obotuke, Apostle King Enajite Ohwonohwo and Apostle Lucky Imonie.
All efforts to reach the leadership of the PFN Delta State chapter were not successful as calls put to Enakirerhi had not been answered as of the time of filing this report.