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Fresh Crisis Rocks Cele
By Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye
Saturday, January 7, 2006
Bolanle being led away from the church

A fresh leadership tussle has erupted in the Celestial Church of Christ (CCC), resulting in some members stripping one of the leaders naked.

The crisis assumed an alarming proportion when an erstwhile leader of the church, Shonekon Godwin Bolanle, allegedly broke into the altar at the World Headquarters, Imeko, Ogun State, with heavily armed men on Christmas eve. Many people were reported injured in the process.

Bolanle, who until 2002 was the registered agent of the church in Florida, it was gathered, allegedly stormed the headquarters to proclaim himself the pastor.

Wearing the costume of a pastor, he allegedly used the giant bells meant for calling the members to service to break the entrance into the altar.

After gaining entrance, he allegedly broke into the inner altar, and knelt before it with his hands raised to proclaim himself the pastor of the church - to the admiration of his followers.

Trouble
Trouble however broke out, when members of the church who had gathered for the passover and watch night service pounced on Bolanle and his men.
He was rescued by the Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Ogun State Command, Eleweran, Mr.Dapo Ayeni. He was in police custody for some days alongside his followers before being released on bail.
The pastor of the Celestial Church of Christ, Reverend Emmanuel Oshoffa, Saturday Sun heard, was highly embarrassed by Bolanle’s behaviour.

Origin of problem
Speaking on behalf of Oshoffa, the secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Church, Elder Oluremi Olushoga Ogunlesi, said Bolanle fell out with the church when his request to be made the Head of Diocese of the Church in America failed.

“Shonekan came to a church meeting in 1991. The meeting was held in Pastor Bada’s house. He told us that he was based in Florida but wanted the church’s approval to establish a parish there. Pastor Bada was highly impressed with him because a lot of people don’t bother seeking permission from the church before forming branches. We gave him all the support he needed. We also gave him the church’s constitution for registration in USA. Though, I must say, that we never gave him financial support.

“We did not hear from him until 1998, when he came back asking for more documents for registration. He has a house in Florida that his wife uses for day care, which he turns to a church on Sunday. We gave him more sensitive documents believing that he wanted to use it for registration. Trouble started when the U.S.A government gave him a final form to sign. The pastor of the church was required to sign. Shonekan asked us to send him a letter which world gave him authority to sign on behalf of the pastor. We gave him the letter in good faith and he signed in Florida.

To our chagrin, he started proclaiming himself pastor. Can you imagine that? Just because he signed a document on behalf of the church. He was not even a member of the Board of Trustees. When we got tired of his antics, we excommunicated him in 2004. Unknown to us, he was even signing sensitive documents. That, to us to forgery”.

He collected money from people
The Personal Assistant to Oshoffa, Elder Tosho Oschoffa claimed Shonekan invaded Mercyland in Imeko, just to prove that he was the pastor of the church.
“Shonekan collected several thousands of naira from people promising to take them to America, last year. When he could not take them, they grew restless. He gathered some of the people he collected money from and they came to our headquarters with arms. Among the people he brought were Muslims, members of the Oodua peoples congress (OPC), etc. We had earlier disassociated ourselves from the trip by placing adverts in the newspapers”.

Oshoffa further said that Bolanle was present during the ordination of the present pastor of the church.
“We have only one pastor. Emmanuel Oshoffa was proclaimed pastor on December 25, 2002 and ordained on February 23, 2003 in Imeko. Bolanle was part of the people that prayed during the Oshoffa’s spiritual ordination”.

When Saturday Sun called Bolanle on his cell phone, he rained insults on this reporter.
He said: “You must be a very daft reporter. I am the only recognized pastor of the Celestial Church of Christ World Wide. Where were you when I called a press conference on the March 2, 2005 to proclaim myself pastor”.

When asked who ordinated him pastor, Bolanle cut the line. When Saturday Sun called back, a female voice said that he was not available.
The Police Public Relations Officer in Ogun State, Mr. Femi Awoyele, confirmed the incident.
“We had intelligence report that some people were going to disturb the peace of Mercyland. When Bolanle invaded the place with the people he had …(promised) to take to America, we had to take him out of there. We are still investigating and those found wanting would be charged to court for assault and willful damage”.

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