The registered trustees of Gospel Apostolic Church through their counsel, Barrister Kehinde Fadayiro has dismissed claims that one of its pastors was owed his compensation dues.
Reacting to a news report titled, “Pastor who was shot, blinded by church security officer calls out church over unpaid compensation” the Gospel Apostolic Church said it was not true.
According to the news report, the General Overseer of the Registered Trustee of Gospel Apostolic Church, was alleged to have instructed the Chief Security Officer of the church to shoot Pastor Garuba Obabueki at the church’s armoury loaded with guns and that the church had refused to compensate him in the judgement sum of N500, 000, 000.00 (five hundred million naira) or any post-judgement negotiated amount, awarded against the church in a fundamental suit instituted by Pastor Garuba Obabueki against the church.
Explaining what happened, the Gospel Apostolic Church said, “No matter how fanciful his case may be, we consider it important to explain some background facts after the unfortunate incident of 15 November, 2000 which was caused by the Pastor Garuba himself when he fiddled with the loaded gun of the chief security officer of the church.
By a letter dated 25th September, 2012 the Oba of Benin, Omo N’oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo invited the former general overseer of the Gospel Apostolic Church, Late Reverend Samuel Akinbode Sadela to his palace over the said incident.
The late general overseer was about 112 years old at that time and was unable to honour the invitation but sent one of his most senior pastor to honour the invitation on his behalf.
The church explained that on the 5th October, 2012 the said senior pastor painstakingly explained to the late Oba and members of the Council of Chiefs present on that day of the unfortunate incident of 15 November, 2000 and the atrocious conduct of Pastor Garuba together with the several steps taking by the church to rehabilitate him after the unfortunate incident.
The late Oba in his wisdom pleaded on behalf of Pastor Garuba and asked the late general overseer to forgive Pastor Garuba because he remains one of their brethren and should not be abandoned.
Consequently, on the 11 October, 2012 being the next appointed date, the late general overseer through his representative thanked the late Oba and the members of Council of Chiefs for their intervention in the matter and informed them that he has forgiven Pastor Garuba and thereafter he gave him the sum of N600, 000.00 (six hundred thousand naira).
The late Oba thanked the late general overseer and afterwards warned Pastor Garuba not to pursue the case any further and should also desist from denigrating the name and reputation of the late general overseer.
Notwithstanding the warning from the late Oba, Pastor Garuba through his erstwhile solicitors; Messrs Chief Lanre Adeniyi & Co filed a suit with number FHC/L/CS/1273/2013 on the 16th September, 2013 against The Gospel Apostolic Church and three others for encroachment of his fundamental right to life.
The originating processes in the said suit was never served to the Gospel Apostolic Church to enable it file reply but an affidavit of service was deposed to by one Onwuka Patrick, an ex-bailiff of the Federal high Court and was put in the court’s file.
Arising from the Proof of Service, the presiding Judge Musa Kurya on the 12 March, 2014 entered the judgement being referred to in the sum of N500, 000, 000.00 (five hundred million naira) against Gospel Apostolic Church and three other defendants in the case.
Despite the foregoing judgement, Pastor Garuba through the same erstwhile solicitors again filed another suit with number FHC/L/CS/2040 on the 30 December, 2014 in the same court against the Registered Trustees of the Gospel Apostolic Church and three others claiming the same reliefs as in the earlier suit marked FHC/L/CS/1273/2013.
Initially, the Trustees of the Gospel Apostolic Church in this fresh matter were not served with the originating processes in the said suit but were served with a hearing notice and the Trustees of the Church put up an appearance and consequently filed their reply on the 20 May, 2015.
The presiding Judge Ibrahim Buba after listening to the arguments of the parties and considering the evidence adduced before the court, dismissed the suit of Pastor Garuba with cost of N100, 000.00 (One Hundred Thousand Naira) describing his case “as fairy tale that sounds like fiction and fanciful”.
“The applicant is not to be believed, the contradictory averments can clearly be seen as a fabrication. I think as rightly deposed to by the 4th respondent, the applicant is an ungrateful man in spite of all that the respondent did for him after the unfortunate incident he brought to bear on himself. The applicant skillfully kept away all the facts of this assistance and what transpired between him and the respondent on the fateful day and re-invented the story. In re-writing the events, the applicant also skillfully kept or concealed the facts of what occurred at the palace of the Oba of Benin and the UBA cheque of 15th October2012 that was issued to him,” the judge said in page 61 of his judgement.
Adding that, “The court does not believe the facts offered by the applicant. The applicant tried to pull a wool on the face of the court to secure sympathy that he does not deserve. Facts are sacred, they do not lie but human beings lie.
“The applicant in the instant case who went to the house of the Lord to tamper with a loaded gun like a small child and has himself to blame.
“In spite of all the efforts made to rehabilitate him he is still an unrepentant ungrateful man of God, men of God should not lie in ordinary matters let alone an oath before God”.
Regardless of the above judgement of the court in suit number, FHC/L/CS/2040/2014 Pastor Garuba and his present solicitors Messrs. Osagie Obayuwana & Co on 9 June, 2016 surreptitiously commenced a garnishee proceeding in court in respect of the judgement in suit number FHC/L/CS/1273/2013 earlier abandoned and on 28 November 2016 the court presided over by Justice Hadiza Shagari granted an Order Nisi for the attachment of all the funds standing to the credit of the Gospel Apostolic Church and three others with their bankers. The Trustees of the Gospel Apostolic Church only became aware for the first time the concluded proceedings and the judgement in suit number: FHC/L/CS/1273/2013 on 22 February 2017 when Ecobank Plc; one of it’s bankers informed the Trustees by a letter dated same day that a lien has been placed on the account of it’s former General Overseer the Late Reverend Samuel Akinbode Sadela.
Having become aware of the said judgement in suit no: FHC/L/CS/1273/2013, the Trustees of the Gospel Apostolic Church through their solicitors, Barrister Kehinde Fadayiro have taking various bona fide legal process both at the lower court and the appellate court in appeal No: CA/L/43/2018 without success to set aside the said judgement obtained by fundamental irregularity orchestrated by Pastor Garuba with the active connivance of his solicitors and the ex-bailiff of the court who claimed to have served the court processes in the suit No: FHC/L/CS/1273/2013 but did not serve.
In an attempt by the Gospel Apostolic Church to attack the record of the lower court which states that the church was served with the originating processes in suit no: FHC/L/CS/1273/2013, the Registered Trustees of the Church discovered to their utter shock and disbelief that the same ex-bailiff, Patrick Onwuka who claimed to have served the Gospel Apostolic Church has been dismissed from the Federal Judicial Service on the 18th October, 2017 by the Federal Judicial Service Commission for serious misconduct, that is, false deposition of affidavit of service in suit No: FHC/L/CS/2040/2014 and in another suit FHC/L/CP/142/2015. Mr Wellington Okotodei vs Incorporated Trustees of Pinnock Beach Association Lekki Lagos and others.
Upon the aforesaid discovery, the trustees of the church through their solicitor Mr Kehinde Fadayiro on 30 November 2018, filed suit number FHC/L/CS/2005/2018 against Pastor Garuba and the Deputy Sherriff of the Federal High Court to set aside the judgement in suit FHC/L/CS/1273/2013 on the ground of fraud, gross misrepresentation and deceit and in the face of the overwhelming evidence before the court including that of the ex-bailiff of the Gospel Apostolic Church who confessed in open court that he never served the originating processes in suit no: FHC/L/CS/1273/2013.
The court on 15 July 2022 presided over by Justice O.O Liman dismissed the suit on the ground that he does not have the requisite jurisdiction to entertain the case. The said judgement in suit no: FHC/L/CS/2005/2018 has since been appealed against on the 27 July 2022 and their counsel have been duly served.
Their appeal is a continuation of the hearing of the case and until the appeal is dispensed with the action is still pending in court. Upholding a preliminary objection by the trial court does not necessarily translate that the Appeal Court would agree with the trial court based on the facts and evidence on record before the court as the Appellate Court is entitled to look at the records before it and decide if the trial court was right or wrong.
“Our client would like to clarify the issue of the armoury with loaded guns raised. Firstly, at no time or period has the Registered Trustees of the Gospel Apostolic Church maintained any armoury with loaded guns within it’s premises. Secondly, the loaded single barrel shotgun that Pastor Garuba fiddled with before it exploded and caused damage to his two eyes was principally used for the protection of the then General Overseer of the church and the other ministers of God who lived within the premises of the church at that time as the nefarious activities of hoodlums terrorizing Somolu/Bariga area of Lagos State was at its peak during that period of the the year.
“In addition, Pastor Garuba indeed lodged a fictitious petition against the Chief Security Officer and the Registered Trustees of the Church at Zone 2 Police Command Headquarters, Onikan, Lagos in May 2008 where the Chief Security Officer was arrested, detained and later released on bail.
“After the conclusion of investigation of the case. The Chief Security Officer and the Registered Trustees of the Gospel Apostolic Church were never charged before any court of law in Nigeria for the offence of unlawful possession of firearms or any other related offence whatsoever.
“Our client wishes to state firmly that it has not failed, refused and or neglected to pay the sum of N500, 000, 000.00 (five hundred million naira) awarded against it by the court has been speculated by Pastor Garuba and his lawyer but has decided and indeed exercised it’s constitutional right of appeal within the purview of the law.
“Our client would also like to use this medium to reassure it’s members and the general public at large that it will abide by any decisions of the court of the land whether for or against it’s interest whenever its constitutional right of appeal has been fully exhausted and has extinguished.”