The Diocese of Benin in the Anglican Church of Nigeria seems a troubled place. And I was intrigued to find they have an official Dir. Of Security/Protocol, the Revd Canon Nosa Ben-Shallom. I wonder how many other Dioceses in the Communion have a director of security?
But I guess they need it. In October 2008 police protection was sought apparently because Igbo worshippers wanted exclusive control of a Church in Benin City. The church was shut down:
It was observed that the presence of plainclothes security men, the men of the Special Anti-robbery squad and the conventional policemen led by the Divisional Police Officer of the New Benin Police Station, Mr. Joseph Omoruwa, a Superintendent of Police, prevented the breakdown of law and order in the church.
Besides, the owner of a security outfit in Benin, Mr. Efe Stewart, who said he is the Chief Security Officer of the Anglican Diocese in Benin, was on the ground with his men and some of the youth to secure the church and indeed all other Anglican Church properties in the diocese. (emphasis added.)
The protesting youths who carried placards condemned what they described as undue ethnicity in the Church of Christ some of which read, “No to Christian tribalism, No to Igbo seizure of Anglican Church, Christians arise against ungodly behavior, Anglican Church is for all, not for Igbos alone.”
Before then, however, one church leader had alledged that Bishop Peter Imasuen had threatened his life which led to the police interrogating the Bishop. All here.
Another, longer and dramatic, account of the conflict (from October 2008) concludes that only the security forces could prevent the outbreak of wide tribal conflict and 'the total breakdown of law and order in the state'. It reports the
mobilisation of the youths to disrupt the service of the church for two Sundays, vandalising the church signboard and deflating the tyres of the church bus because of the refusal of the Vicar to allow the inscription “Igbo Speaking’ on the church bus, because according to him, it always subjects him to derision whenever he uses the bus.
Between 1995 and at least 2001 it seemed there had also been ethnically charged conflict in the Church this time between Bini and non-Bini members, apparently resulting some non-Bini members leaving the Anglican Church (here).
But what caught my eye was a report in the last few days of a court case against senior Anglicans for printing material defaming the Bishop. The allegation, made last year, is that the Bishop made a church member, Gladys Adetokhai pregnant and then procured an abortion for her.
Those in the dock are notable: Dr Abel Guobadia is a past Ambassador to South Korea and a past Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission and Samuel Uroghide described as a prominent Benin lawyer (here). The case proceeds.
Not a happy place.