Sunday October 22 2017

Police deploy as Christians rebuke their leader over property

A section of Christians and polic

A section of Christians and police outside the Church building that was locked. PHOTO BY SIMON PETER EMWAMU  

By SIMON PETER EMWAMU

SOROTI- Heavily armed police officers have deployed at Lifeline Ministries International in Soroti as Christians rebuked their presiding pastor, Apostle Peter Oyet accusing him of allegedly trying to grab Church land titles from them.

Apostle Oyet who had come from Kampala to allegedly mediate between the Soroti-based church and its Kampala headquarters was jeered and heckled by Christians who locked the Church building after suspecting that he had come with police to pick Church titles.

The church building is situated in Pamba, Western Division, Soroti town.

This follows the Saturday resignation of their area pastor, Bishop James Israel Tukei.

The fruitless mediation between Church elders was attended by former Serere Woman MP, Ms Alice Alaso and Apostle Peter Oyet.

However, during the talks, Christians kept chanting “no prayers and we shall not yield to Apostle Peter Oyet interference in our church, leave the leadership of our church to our Bishop James Israel Tukei.”

In protest, the Christians removed the foundation stone and “Lifeline Ministries” signboard from the Church building.

Mr Isa Kiisa, one of the Church ministers told journalists on Saturday that the decision to lock the Church building was taken by church elders.

Former Serere Woman MP Alice Alaso (C), Apostle

Former Serere Woman MP Alice Alaso (C), Apostle Oyet (R) and other church elders stranded outside the Church building. PHOTO BY SIMON PETER EMWAMU

 “We are dismayed that in our struggle to construct this church, there was no penny advanced to us by people from the headquarters. But today, they want to get hold of the land titles of this beautiful Church we constructed in a struggle,” he said.

Mr Kiisa said they are suspicious why Apostle Oyet is eager to take the Church land title and trying to stifle the leadership of Bishopt Tukei who has hardly spent a year in office.

Ms Christine Akello, a Church elder alleged that the battle is about accessing church resources.

She alleged that last month, a team from Kampala forcefully picked about Shs27 million from the church premises and took it to the chagrin of Christians in Soroti who want autonomy from Kampala.

“We shall not relent to let our church fall into dirty hands, we shall not relent,” she said.

In his resignation letter, read out to the angry Christians, Bishop Tukei said it was with honour to have worked with Apostle Oyet adding that due to the call from God, he deemed it necessary to resign.

Apostle Oyet said he didn’t invite police to the church apart from his personal bodyguard given his status.

He said police were present because they had to keep peace since violence was imminent.

He said that since 2016, he has pushed for mediation between the Soroti congregation and the Kampala Church headquarters but in vain until he was shockingly replied with a resignation letter from the Soroti bishop.

“My coming here was to sit, speak and pray with my children. I am not for a fight. But if there is a devil in the Church, you fight it using the word of God,” Apostle Oyet said. “I did not come to Teso to punish Bishop Tukei. What a fool would I be to destroy what I have raised? I didn’t come to receive his resignation letter, but I painfully received it.”

Asked to clarify the allegations brought against him by the Christians, Apostle Oyet said he would respond after meeting Church leaders.

Mr Michael Odongo, the Kyoga East Police spokesperson said they deployed to avert possible violent protests by Christians.

He said the fight between Lifeline Ministries Soroti and their colleagues in Kampala has persisted for a long time.

He said that last month; a visiting Kampala team was assaulted, culminating in the arrest of some Christians.

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