The ownership crisis rocking the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC), Temple of the Lord, Ogo-Oluwa, Osogbo, has been finally put to rest with a judgment of an Osun State High Court, given the sole ownership and administration of the church to its founder, the late Prophet Ezekiel Babalola.
Contrary to the claims of the CAC Registered Trustees, elders of the church, Pastors Moses Ogundeji and I. Akinosun that the church’s ownership rights had been transferred to the CAC authority, Justice Akin Oladimeji of the Osun State High Court, said the worship centre remains the property of the late Prophet Babalola.
The ownership crisis began some years back when Akinosun, Ogundeji and some of their loyalists began to frustrate members of the church, including the family members of late Babalola, who opposed their alleged autocratic and anti-Christ behaviours in the church.
When the alleged inhuman attitude of Akinosun and Ogundeji became unbearable for Babalola’s widow, Mrs. Mary, his first son, Pastor Paul Babalola, elders and members of the church, they opted to dissociate fromthe CAC,Temple of the Lord Church and its properties.
It was gathered that the CAC Registered Trustees, Akinosun and Ogundeji denied the aggrieved members of the church the rights to dissociate with the church’s properties, claiming that they all belonged to the CAC authority.
The duo also claimed that the church ownership had been transferred to the CAC authority before the death of Babalola, the founder of the church, adding that the plaintiffs must abide by the constitution of the CAC 1998.
Mrs. Babalola, Pastor Paul Babalola and Elder J.A Dagunduro on behalf of the CAC Temple of the Lord Church congregation sued the CAC Registered Trustees, Akinosun and Ogundeji, following their attempt to seize the ownership rights of the church from Babalola’s family.
In the suit numbered HOS/23/2009, the plaintiffs maintained that the manner with which Akinosun and Ogundeji were handling the affairs of the church had had negative effects on the membership attendance and spiritual welfare of the church.
The plaintiffs prayed for an order allowing them to dissociate from CAC and its properties and an order terminating and restraining the defendants from interfering with or the handling the affairs of the Temple of the Lord Church.
Mrs. Babalola, while giving her witness statement on the case, said Akinosun and Ogundeji had upturned the norms and beliefs of the church, as they engaged in anti-Christ activities.
She further alleged the defendants of oppressing members of the church, stopping humanitarian services, abandonment of charity to widows and cursing of the church members.
She said the defendants were those that assisted her late husband in missionary, denying the statement that the Temple of the Lord was owned by the CAC authority.
According to her, the land upon which the Temple of the Lord was built was unilaterally purchased by her late husband and that the late Babalola had run the administration of the church single-handedly without any input or interference from the CAC authority.
In his own statement, Elder Dagunduro, one of the plaintiffs, accused Ogundeji of inviting a senior pastor of the church, to enter into a secret covenant with him in order to keep on controlling the affairs of the church.
Dagunro also accused Akinosun of terrorizing members of the Temple of the Lord Church with policemen, adding that the development had led to a drastic reduction of the church members’ attendance from 600 to 100, when the defendants were controlling the church.
Defending the allegations, Ogundeji denied ever frustrating Pastor Fasakin, saying that he had never wanted to enter into any secret covenant with him.
The General Secretary of the CAC Worldwide, Pastor Gideon Okegwemeh, while defending the CAC Registered Trustees, claimed that the founder of the Temple of the Lord Church, Pastor Babalola in his life time, had handed over the ownership and administration of the church to the CAC authority for control and spiritual guidance.
Delivering his judgment last Monday, Justice Akin Oladimeji said there was no evidence to show that the Temple of the Lord Church had been transferred to the CAC authority, saying that available evidence only showed that the church had been jointly run by the late Babalola and the CAC authority.
Justice Oladimeji therefore maintained that the plaintiffs had the right to dissociate with the properties of the Temple of the Lord, particularly, the church, from CAC, stressing that the invitation of the defendants to the church was only for spiritual guidance and not absolute transfer of the rights of the complainants to their properties.
Speaking after the verdict, the widow of the founder, Mrs. Babalola commended the judgment, describing it as a breakthrough and victory for the Temple of the Lord Church and Babalola’s family.
Pastor Paul Babalola, in his own reaction, called on elders of all churches not to allow their personal greed to override the interest of the church members and the work of God.