The leadership crisis rocking the Sapele Diocese Anglican communion deepens as leadership and members of the Diocese has dragged the Bishop of Sapele Diocese, Rt. Rev. (Dr.) Blessing Erifeta, to High Court 1, Sapele division, over alleged mismanagement of church funds.
The leaders of the Church under the auspices of the Rescue Sapele Diocese, (RSD) in their suit pending at the High Court, is praying the Court to restrain the Bishop and his cronies from illegally and unlawfully ex-communicating them from the Church, except in accordance with the constitution of the Diocese and in strict compliance with the rules of fair hearing as enshrined in section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.
Also joined in the suit as 1st Defendant is the Archbishop of the Bendel Ecclesiastical Province of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Archbishop Friday J. Imaekhai, whom the group alleges is shielding the Bishop from answering for his alleged misdeeds.
The group alleges that; “the Bishop and his ilk have been mismanaging the finances and businesses of the Diocese since the Bishop assumed office in Sapele Diocese about six (6) years ago.
They equally alleged that; “the Bishop has been misappropriating the funds of the Holy Trinity Grammar School (owned by the Diocese) for the past six (6) years, as well as the funds of the Pure Water Factory owned by the Diocese for about three (3) years.
The group further alleges that; “the Bishop has been misappropriating the funds of the Co-Operative Society run by the Priests in the Diocese, including refusal to refund the sum of N8Million belonging to the Co-operative Society from inception of the Diocese till date.
The RSD also alleged that the Bishop has refused to comply with several letters of demands from the Delta State Ministry of Commerce and Industry, requesting for the books of the Co-operative Society to be submitted for inspection and audit, and directing that the Annual General Meetings of the Co-operative Society should be held and the report sent to the Ministry for compliance monitoring.
The group claims further that, “the Bishop refused to pay into the Diocesan bank accounts, the proceeds from the sale of Diocesan properties, and that the Bishop illegally diverted Diocesan funds into his children’s bank accounts and also engaged in unauthorized purchase of a N2 Million private Chrysler Car with Diocesan funds for his personal use.”
According to the group the Bishop, over the years in connivance with his cohorts have been involved in several questionable actions unbecoming of the high office of a Bishop in an Anglican Church.
The Group alleges that in April 2014, the Bishop caused unauthorized letters to be written to First Bank Sapele, demanding for a loan of N11.7million; to enable him acquires a KIA QUORIS SUV vehicle for his personal use, despite the many financial challenges of the Diocese.
They that while the Bishop was leaving in luxury salaries of many priests in the Diocese remain unpaid for several months, before the matter came to climax sometime in the month of July 2015 when the Youths of the Diocese were organizing a programme in the Church premises at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke’s Sapele, and the Bishop allegedly sent some hired thugs harass, intimidate and forcefully compel the Youths to vacate the Church premises, which the Youths peacefully resisted.
Meantime, the Bishop’s counsel has filed a notice of preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the Sapele High Court to hear the matter. The case is now adjourned to Friday, 3rd June, 2016 for further hearing.
Meanwhile, all efforts to reach the Bishop for his comment has failed since no one could trace his where about as he has packed out of his Official Quarters at St. Luke’s Cathedral Boyo Road Sapele, while calls to his phone remain unanswered as at the time of this report.