Adewunmi cries out as bulldozer razes church over N100,000 debt
Pastor and founder of Covenant and Faith Apostolic Ministry, Ota Ogun State, Nigeria, Apostle Nicholas Adewunmi is in pains. The church building he and his church members labored to put together was recently pulled down over a debt of N100, 000. But for God, he would have lost his children in the course of the demolition.
Adewunmi came into full time ministry a few years ago after the Lord spoke to him in a vision where he saw himself among a group of four people being given instruction to go and preach the gospel in different places.
He took courage and began. He served with a number of ministries including Foursquare Gospel Church where he gave his life to Christ in 1989 before the Lord led him to Onibukun area of Ogun State where he acquired a piece of land to begin his own ministry.
God enabled him to build a worship centre for his congregation which consisted mainly of children and a few adults. Close to the church is a bungalow which is still under construction. That is where he lives and his family until the unexpected happened.
He was duped
Unknown to him the land where the church and vicarage are sited was bought from the wrong person. By the time the original owner showed up, it was too late for him to retrieve his money. Several other people were conned in the land deal.
The original owner sued all the landlords in the area and won the case in court. Rather than ask them to quit the land since many of them had put up structures they were asked to pay a N100, 000 ratification fee per person. It was the inability to pay that money that led to the demolition of the buildings owned by defaulters.
About three weeks ago an agent of the original owner of the large expanse of land which is in Onibukun area of Ota invaded the site with bulldozers and began to pull down defaulters’ buildings.
Apostle Adewunmi was owing. Expectedly his church was pulled down. He told our correspondent that he was owing a sum of N100, 000 which he called ratification fee. Explaining what he meant, he said, “Years after we had acquired the land, the original owner of the land took us to court and said the land was wrongly sold to us. He won the case and the court, rather than give him permission to destroy the buildings that had already been erected on his land, reached an agreement with him that those of us who bought land in that area should pay a sum of N100, 000 each to him as ratification fee.”
But since court declaration some landlords including Adewunmi were not forthcoming with the fee. The agent of the original land owner was left with no other option but to take the laws into his hand. He invaded the community with bulldozers one morning and began to pull down structures that were owned by those who had not paid. Adewunmi’s church building and many other houses in the community were not spared.
It was indeed a pathetic sight. As Adewunmi narrated the story of the demolition to our correspondent, he tried to fight back tears wondering why such ill luck befell him. “When those guys came with their bulldozers I was transfixed. I did not know what to do. They came with mobile police officers. The man behind the wheel of the bulldozer was masked and he was just carrying out the order given him by their leader. They had pulled down several structures in the community before they got to mine.’
By the time they got to Adewunmi’s compound, the leader of the squad initially asked him to choose which of the buildings he would sacrifice between the church and his own residence which is in the same compound with the church. “At that point I was lost. I did not know what to say but to plead. I said to them they should do as they please. I was just too emotional to talk.”
In the midst of sobs and pleads, the leader of the team known as Akinola changed his mind. He insisted that both the church and the house of the pastor be pulled down. “I was asked to go and pack all my belongings that the bulldozer was coming to pull down the house. I was standing in front of the house and pleading. I did not know my children were inside the house trying to pack their books. The bulldozer was coming ferociously to run over the house.
The bulldozer was about running through the building when the mobile police officers around screamed and stopped the driver that some children were inside the building. The officers immediately surrounded the building and insisted the bulldozer should not pull it down against the instruction of their leader.”
Apostle Adewunmi told our correspondent that the officers saved him from being homeless and being childless because they would have killed his children in that building. But then the church building he labored to put together along with his members had been pulled down. “It was a dark day for me. I wept like a baby. I know I was guilty for not paying the agreed amount but I never expected that the church building which we labored over the years to put together would be pulled down in lieu of the money they were asking for.”
Adewunmi, a former factory manager with Hart Tank Storage before he resigned to do full time ministry work says his hopes were shattered with the demolition while pleading for support. “I am calling on well-meaning Nigerians to come to my aid. I can’t even pursue any legal case with them because I know I am the one at fault. I am not trying to prove any point. Since the court had ruled initially and asked us to pay the ratification fee I ought to have done that. But then things have not been going on well for us as a family.”
As it is, the land owners have started selling plots of land where demolition was carried out to interested buyers. “They have sold the land close to me to another buyer. They had to orchestrate the demolition so they could resell to those who are interested. The land is already being resold. I do not think we have any hope of regaining the land if we do not pay. I am afraid we may lose the land to some other buyers if we don’t pay the N100, 000 fine. I am asking for help as the Lord lays in the heart of well-meaning Nigerians.”
Apostle Adewunmi could be reached on 07063038085. His account number if you’re led to support him Stanbic/Ibtc Adewunmi O.Olugbenga 9202293543