Emotions ran high at the Chapel of Christ the Light, Alausa, Ikeja, on Wednesday, as the Lagos State Government honoured a former presiding Chaplain of the chapel, Venerable Femi Taiwo.
The congregation, consisting of church members, family, friends and well wishers of the cleric, sang songs after songs as they celebrated the occasion.
The state Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture, Mrs Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, who was joined by top officials of the ministry, presented a gift to Taiwo on behalf of the government.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the special service, which held for about 30 minutes, was kept under wraps, as many church members were not informed.
In May 2017, PUNCH Metro had exclusively reported that Taiwo, his wife and their two children were evicted from the vicarage after being given 24 hours notice to quit.
Church members contributed money to buy cooking utensils for the family, as a new accommodation was sought for them.
Taiwo had been accused of not according the wife of former governor Akinwunmi Ambode, Bolanle, preference and recognition during an anointing service.
Bolanle, with her entourage, was reported to have stormed out of the Sunday service in a fit of rage.
Efforts by women leaders in the church to persuade them to stay on were said to have been rebuffed.
Shortly after they left, the priest was served a dismissal letter by the governing council of the chapel.
The incident had generated outrage from Nigerians, who criticised the former governor and his wife for humiliating the former chaplain.
The head of the African Church, Ifako Diocese, Rt. Rev. Michael Adeyemi, who seconded the cleric to the chapel, had said Bolanle committed a sacrilege.
However, the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in the state, Apostle Alexander Bamgbola, justified the action of the state, saying the priest was a government employee and he could be fired by his employers.
He also dissociated Bolanle from Taiwo’s sacking.
The Christian leader, however, parried questions on the propriety of the 24-hour eviction order.
Two years and six months after, the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration, through the Ministry of Home Affairs and Culture, honoured Taiwo.
A member of the chapel said the special service was kept secret, adding that officials of the ministry, including the commissioner, special adviser, permanent secretary and some members of staff were present.
“Everything was done very quickly too. We started with a hymn, followed by an address by the special adviser to the governor. After a brief remarks, the commissioner presented a gift to Taiwo,” he stated.
The source said though the government’s action was commendable, the church wanted the priest to be honoured in a bigger way.
A senior official of the chapel said he got a text about the event around 2pm on Tuesday.
He insisted that the programme was an initiative of the state government.
He stated, “I got a text stating that the ministry was coming to the chapel to honour Venerable Taiwo. Some members started sharing and spreading the message till late last night (Tuesday).
“When we arrived, the special adviser to the governor was the first to talk. He said something like, ‘Since I have been in Alausa, nobody has told me that you (Taiwo)stole money; nobody said you are a womaniser’. A very brief remark testifying to the integrity of the priest and I believe that was all Venerable Taiwo wanted.”
Our correspondent learnt that the female group in the church turned out in a colourful aso ebi to mark the occasion.
The source said despite the short notice, the women mobilised and organised to wear the uniform to honour Taiwo.
A video clip sent to PUNCH Metro by the official showed the priest singing several songs of praise as he was joined by the church members in a dance.
While thanking the state governor for the honour, he appreciated Nigerians for their kind words.
Taiwo said, “I thank God for His faithfulness and the uncommon grace and rare privilege He has given to me. I thank the Lagos State Government; Mr Governor, Aduramigba Iyanuoluwa Babajide Sanwo-Olu. I appreciate you and everyone. In the midst of the storm of life, you stood by me.
“The day I was to leave here, I saw angels coming down in the form of men. Spontaneously, I saw members of this church come around me and providing all a man could need to survive. What happened that day, nobody prepared for it; nobody thought of it. But God went ahead and made the crooked way straight. I thank and appreciate all of you and I pray that the glory of God will shine on your lives.
“Throughout the time I spent here, I had no regrets, because you were all around me. That is why I cannot forget this place; I cannot forget your beautiful faces.”
Drama as DSS Officers Engage Sowore in Scuffle in Attempt to Rearrest Him
A mid drama ensued inside the courtroom this morning as men believed to be officers of the Department of State Service made attempt to rearrest the RevolutionNow protest convener, Omoyele Sowore.
Sowore was released around 7pm on Thursday following an ultimatum issued by the court.
Ex-Abia State Gov, Uzor Kalu Bags 12 Years Imprisonment for Graft
The Federal High Court in Lagos has sentenced a former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, to a maximum of 12 years imprisonment for N7.65bn fraud, among other multiple sentences ranging from 3 years to 5 years on 27 counts.
Justice Mohammad Idris also convicted and sentenced his two other accomplices who were also found guilty of N7.65bn fraud.
They got multiple sentences between 10 years and 3 years.
Kalu’s co-defendants are his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited; and Udeh Udeogu, who was Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House during Kalu’s tenure as governor.
The judge also ordered that Slok be wound up and its assets forfeited to the Federal Government.
Saraki’s Ordeal Continues as Court Orders Forfeiture of Houses to FG
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday secured an order of the Federal High Court in Lagos for the forfeiture of two houses in Ilorin, Kwara State, belonging to a former Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
The EFCC told the court it uncovered monumental fraud perpetrated in the treasury of the Kwara State Government between 2003 and 2011, when Saraki was the governor of the state.
Based on an ex parte application filed by the EFCC pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act No. 14, 2006, Justice Rilwan Aikawa ordered the temporary forfeiture of Saraki’s two properties designated as Plots No. 10 and No. 11 Abdulkadir Road, GRA, Ilorin, Kwara State.
An operative of the EFCC, Olamide Sadiq, said in an affidavit filed in support of the ex parte application that the EFCC moved to have the two houses forfeited after investigating “the report of a committee set up to review sales of Kwara State Government properties during the reign of the Governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011.”
Sadiq said the EFCC also received “a damning intelligence report, showing monumental fraud perpetrated in the treasury of the Kwara State Government between 2003 and 2011.”
He said, “Whilst the investigation was ongoing, several fraudulent transactions were discovered.
“I know for a fact and verily believe that our investigation has revealed the following mind-boggling findings, among others:
“That between 2003 and 2011, Dr Olubukola Abubakar Saraki was the Executive Governor of Kwara State.
“That whilst he held the aforementioned position, the common pattern was that after the payment of monthly allocation by the Federal Government to the Kwara State Government, a cumulative sum of not less than N100m would be deposited into the Kwara Government House account.
“That upon the payment of the said N100m, same would, in turn, be withdrawn in cash by one Mr Afeez Yusuf from the Kwara State Government House, Ilorin’s account in bits and brought to the Government House.”
The EFCC said it believed that Saraki developed the two properties with proceeds of unlawful activities.
Counsel for the commission, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, urged Justice Aikawa to order their temporary forfeiture to the Federal Government.
After granting the order as prayed, Justice Aikawa directed the EFCC to publish the temporary forfeiture order in a national newspaper and adjourned till December 17 for anyone interested in the properties to appear before him to show cause why the properties should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
Reacting to the judgment, Saraki maintained his position that the application to the Federal High Court, Lagos, for interim forfeiture order on his Ilorin home by the EFCC was an abuse of the court process and a violation of a subsisting order of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Saraki in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, vowed to challenge the verdict at a higher court of competent jurisdiction.