Christ Embassy church in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, has been sealed.
The church was sealed by Akwa Ibom State Government on Sunday for allegedly flouting guidelines for reopening of churches amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Secretary to the State Government, Emmanuel Ekuwem announced the development in a statement on Sunday.
He expressed dismay at the action of the pastors and congregants who reportedly attacked members of the state COVID-19 monitoring team.
Ekuwem said, “Today, Sunday 21 June 2020, the Akwa Ibom State Government and the Christian Association of Nigeria Monitoring Team, while on a routine compliance/inspection visit to Christ Embassy Church, Nung Akpa Ime branch off Nsikak Eduok Avenue to enforce the guidelines and protocols adopted to prevent the community spread of the dreaded COVID-19, were obstructed, attacked and brutalised by the pastors and some members of the church.
“In response to this act of lawlessness by the church and in order to avoid the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 in Akwa Ibom State, the Christ Embassy Church building and premises are hereby sealed with immediate effect till further notice.
“The pastors and relevant members of the church will be made to face the wrath of the law.”
However, Christ Embassy, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, had earlier rejected the guidelines issued by the state government for reopening of churches.
The church described the guidelines as impracticable and unacceptable.
The church said CAN’s agreement with the government on the guidelines would not be binding on members of the church, adding that Christ Embassy is not a member of CAN.
The church added that the use of face masks throughout the congregational worship as stipulated in the guidelines exposes worshippers to health hazards.
Christ Embassy Uyo had said, “Our church is a global ministry and we do not believe or advocate unionism, rather we believe in the unity of faith. Today, we state without equivocation that we are not members of CAN or any other association in the country and as such hold the strong belief that we cannot and should not be bounded by whatever decision the association reaches out with government.
“While we do not question the right of anybody or churches forming association nor are we against CAN or any association setting up guidelines for their members, it is unacceptable to believe that such guidelines will be binding on non-members of their groups.
“The use of face masks for the entire duration of congregational worship is an act, which has been scientifically proven to be hazardous to the health as uninterrupted use of face masks over a long period of time may cause hypoxia- the absence of oxygen to sustain bodily functions.
“Also, we are expected not to sit more than 200 worshippers during each church service, among others. This is a clear attempt to gag the church.”
The Founder of Christ Embassy, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome had also lashed out at Church leaders who agreed with the government to shut down churches to halt the spread of Coronavirus.
Oyakhilome said they are not true Christians.