A High Court in Jos on Wednesday dismissed a case against the Assemblies of God Nigeria and six other clerics for lack of merit.
Justice Christine Dabup of the State High Court IV declared that the Church is not a juristic person or individual to be sued as contained in section 5 (91)(96) of the Allied Matters Act.
Reverends Yohanna Bot-Dalyop, Luka Daniel, Daniel Billy, John Vwashi, Samuel Panchi and Samuel Chung-Pam of the Assembly of God Nigeria had on May 22, 2017, sued seven other fellow clergies and the Plateau Commissioner of Police.
The Plaintiffs accused the defendants of not allowing them (Plaintiffs) access to the Church in Jos.
The Clergies sued include Jocob Langs, Daniel Saje, Bulus Sambo, James Gyang, Luka Dung, Dachung Delson and Dusu Alison as well as the Plateau Commissioner of Police as 1st – 8th defendants.
The Plaintiff, through their Counsel Mr I.O. Onah, prayed the court to interpret a Supreme court Judgement of February 24, 2017, which they (Plaintiffs) claimed did not prevent them from being members of the church or to hold any leadership position.
They (Plaintiffs) had asked the court to interpret Supreme Court Judgement and issue an order to the defendants to allow them unhindered access to the Jos District branches of the Church as agreed between the Plaintiffs and the defendants, including the security agents.
The plaintiff who asked for cost of N5M as damages from the defendants, prayed for an order against the defendants to tender an apology to them (Plaintiffs) for their arrest, harassment, invitations, prosecution and detention.
But the defendants through their counsels, Messers Lawrence Erewele and Obi Ehiabhi, objected to the plaintiffs’ claims and declared that the High Court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter already decided upon by the Supreme Court.
“For the plaintiffs, who have been ex-communicated and expelled from the church to come back through the back door seeking the interpretation of a Judgement of a Supreme Court is but an exercise in futility.
“My Lord, this court, as a lower Court, lacks the jurisdiction to entertain this matter and so should be dismissed for lack of merit, ’’ Erewele argued.
Ehiabhi, in his own preliminary objection, described the suit as incompetent for suing the leadership of the Assemblies of God Nigeria and the church as an entity.
According to him, “looking at section 5 (91)(96) of the Allied Matters Act, Assembly of God Nigeria as a Church can’t be suit because it is not a Juristic person or individual; only the Board of Trustees can be sued.’’
“I therefore pray this honourable court to strike out this case for lack of merit and competence, ’’ Ehiabhi said.
The Judge, in her ruling on the matter, upheld all the prayers in the preliminary objections raised by counsels to the defendants and dismissed and struck out the case for lack of merit.
“Having looked at the preliminary objections of the two counsels to the defendants, I hereby uphold all the reliefs sought for, considering section 5 (91)(96) of the Allied Matters Act.
“I, therefore, hold that the suit filed by the Plaintiffs failed, and is hereby dismissed and struck out for lack of merit, ’’ Dabup declared.
The judge awarded a cost of N30,000 in favour of the defendants.
Speaking to newsmen shortly after the ruling, Ehiabhi, described it as “brilliant’’ and “very sound.’’
“By this ruling, the sponsors of the crisis in the Assembly of God Nigeria (North), in particular have been exposed and failed in their quest to create a separate Northern Church of the Assemblies of the God Nigeria,‘’ he stated.