An Enugu State High Court has granted a perpetual injunction restraining the police from arresting the General Overseer of the City of Jesus International Ministry, Enugu, Pastor Christopher Orji on allegations of swindling a former member of the Church, Dr Adaeze Anyaegbunam.
Anyaegbunam had dragged Pastor Orji to the office of the Assistant Inspector General of police claiming that she donated over N29 million to the church in various forms and wants the funds returned to her. A development the cleric refused to accept.
Following police harassment, Pastor Orji sought for a court protection and filed a fundamental rights suit to stop police from harassing and intimidating him or members of his church in the matter.
Delivering judgment in the Fundamental Rights Suit marked HAGB/50M/2021 between Pastor Christopher Orji (Applicant) and Inspector General, Nigeria Police Force; Commissioner of Police Enugu State; Assistant Inspector General, Nigeria Police Force (Force CID Annex Agbani Road) Enugu State; SP Chidi Nwanze and Dr Adaeze Anyaegbunam as 1st to 5th Respondents, Justice Okey Anike barred the police from re-arresting or detaining the cleric.
In a Certified True Copy of the court judgement delivered on March 17 which our correspondent obtained on Tuesday, Justice Anike held, “An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Respondents by themselves or by their agents, privies, or workers howsoever described from instigating, searching, inviting and seeking to arrest and further re-arrest, forcing or compelling the Applicant to pay any sum of money howsoever described or make a return of the free will donations arising from the religious relationship between the 5 respondent and the applicant is allowed.
“Consequently, the 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Respondents by themselves or by their agents, privies or workers howsoever described are hereby restrained from re-arresting the Applicant in respect of this matter or forcing/compelling the Applicant to pay or refund any sum of money or item to the 5th respondent…”
In an affidavit in support of the Cleric’s fundamental rights application deposed to by one Innocent Orji, a trustee of the Ministry stated that Dr Anyaegbunam who hails from Anambra State but resident in the United Kingdom, was a member and partner of the ministry who “participated, partnered and shared testimonies on her personal experience while partnering in the missionary works of the church.”
Members of the church, according to him, do give freewill offerings and donations and also sow seeds of faith as they wished. He noted that the church however maintained strict rules regarding the receipt of monetary and materials messages on the church’s Whatsapp platform.
Anyaegbunam according to the affidavit had insisted that she was led by the spirit of God to support the church materially, but the church was initially reluctant to accept.
However, she continued to pressure the church through continuous WhatsApp messages and recorded voice calls to receive and accept her free will donations and gifts. She later, wilfully and voluntarily donated a Toyota Sienna Car with relevant purchase and transfer documents to the church.
Surprisingly however, the deponent said, she sent a letter dated 30th September 2021 via her solicitors giving the church 15 days to return the vehicle and all freewill gifts , donations and cash that she had given to the church.
The affidavit stated that Anayaegbunam, accompanied by two policemen later came to the temporary site of the church while service was going to serve the same demand letter and threatened to arrest and humiliate Pastor Orji and the others if they failed to do so.
The deponent said that the applicant was eventually invited by the police and a statement and undertaking forcefully obtained from him to produce all the offerings and donations made by Dr. Anyaegbunam to the church within a specific period of time or face re-arrest.
He stressed that the applicant was compelled to seek protection from the court out of fear and apprehension over the development.
Reacting to the judgement, counsel to Pastor Orji, Mr C.C Eze, commended the court noting that Judiciary has always remain the last hope of the common man.
Eze, however, dismissed earlier reports on the matter which he said were mischievous fabrications that were designed to deceive, mislead and confuse the public.
He further disclosed that a civil suit filed by the same Dr Adaeze Anyaegbunam in Suit No: E/217/2022; Dr Adaeze Anyaegbunam Vs Pastor Christopher Orji & Anor wherein Dr Anyaegbunam had sought for the declarations and orders of the High Court, to recover the alleged Sienna car, other material gifts and cash has, also been struck out. Eze presented a certified true copy of the court order of an Enugu High Court presided by Hon. Justice M. N. Aroh – Onuoha made on June 17, 2022, to confirm the position.