A pastor of Celestial Church of Christ in Jakande area of Lagos State, pastor Adewunmi Awotidoye, has been hospitalized after being attacked by armed thugs who invaded the church during church service.
The thugs, who were armed with guns and machetes, stormed the church on motorcycles during a service.
They were said to have beaten up the cleric, and other church members, including cutting him with a machete.
The incident, which happened on Tuesday, January 25, created confusion among congregants, as some fled the church premises.
An eyewitness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said one of the hoodlums attempted to shoot Awotidoye.
She said, “He was in church coordinating a weekly programme when the hoodlums came.
They were six in number; two stayed outside of the gate and two came inside. Immediately they entered the church, they asked if he was Prophet Awotidoye and he said yes.
The next thing, they grabbed him and started beating him. One wanted to use his gun on him, but one of them stopped him.
“He later requested a machete immediately he saw that the prophet took to his heels.
The hoodlums chased him; he fell and they caught up with him. They used the machete to cut him.
A 70-year-old elder in the church pleaded with them to leave him.
They cautioned the man to steer clear. Nobody could get close because they were with guns.
A lady who tried it was hacked along with Prophet Awotidoye. She is still in a hospital.”
Our correspondent learnt that there was a leadership tussle in the church.
After a former leader of the church ended his tenure, another pastor, Elijah Ogunbemi, was appointed.
However, after spending one year, Ogunbemi was reportedly suspended over alleged gross misconduct.
Awotidoye was subsequently appointed in acting capacity.
A source in the church alleged that Ogunbemi was behind the attack on the pastor.
She said, “Ogunbemi was transferred to our church in 2021. After church elders suspended him, he insisted on completing his two-year term.”
Another member of the church, who gave her name as Sarah, alleged that the suspended leader had been creating problems for the new pastor.
Ogunbemi, however, denied the allegations, adding that he had explained his side of the story to the police.
He said, “That is a wrong allegation; I didn’t do that and I have never done that and I will never do it. I don’t know who brought the thugs; we were at the police station today and they promised to carry out an investigation into the matter.
I don’t have an issue with them. The person that has an issue is the other pastor that refused to leave the church after I arrived.”
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Adekunle Ajisebutu, said the incident was under investigation.
He said, “The Commissioner of Police has directed that the case should be properly investigated and those responsible for the attack arrested.”