Petition Against 15 Osun PDP Lawmakers At The Code Of Conduct Bureau, By 11 AC Lawmakers On Constituency Project Fraud

27th May, 2008.
Code of Conduct Bureau,
Federal Secretariat Complex,
Shehu Shagari Way,
Maitama,
FCT, Abuja,

Dear Sir,

Petition Brought Pursuant To Item 12, Part 1, Fifth Schedule To The Constitution Of Federal Republic Of Nigeria, 1999 Which Prescribes as follows:

‘Any allegation that a public Officer has committed a breach of or has not complied with the provisions of this Code shall be made to the Code of Conduct Bureau’

IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION AGAINST CONTRAVENTIONS OF THE CODE OF CONDUCT FOR PUBLIC OFFICERS

BETWEEN:

1. HON. TIMOTHEW OWOEYE – ILESA WEST
2. HON. AJIBOYE ADEMOLA – ILA
3. HON. OYEDELE KAMIL TOPE – IREPODUN/OROLU
4. HON. SALAMI NAJEEM F. – EJIGBO
5. HON. BINUYO IPOOLA A. – IFE NORTH
6. HON. AKINTUNDE ADEGBOYE – OSOGBO
7. HON. FAFOWORA A. ABIODUN – ILESA WEST
8. HON. AWOLOLA A. ABIODUN – EGBEDORE
9. HON. SALENSILE R. AYOBAMI – IWO
10. HON. SAMSON FAFIYEBI – OBOKUN
11. HON. AJIBOLA OLAIDE K. – OLORUNDA

AND

1. HON. ADEJARE BELLO (SPEAKER) – EDE NORTH
2. HON. ROPO OYEWOLE ( D. SPEAKER) – IFE CENTRAL
3. HON. TAJUDEEN ADEYEMI (MAJORITY LEADER,) – IFELODUN
4. HON. ADEMOLA OGUNDEJI – BORIPE BOLUWADURO
5. HON. IDIAT BABALOLA – EDE SOUTH
6. HON. FEMI FAROUNBI – AYEDAADE
7. HON. SIKIRU ARAOYE – OLAOLUWA
8. HON. DIRAN AYANBEKUN – IFE SOUTH
9. HON. JOSHUA OGUNLEYE – ATAKUNMOSA EAST AND WEST
10. HON. OGUNLEYE OLATUNJI – ORIADE
11. HON. SAMUEL ABIODUN IDOWU – IFEDAYO
12. HON. ‘KUNLE OMOLOLA – AYEDIRE
13. HON. GBADEBO OYEJIDE – IREWOLE 1/ISOKAN
14. HON. DEGBOLA OYEKUNLE – ODO OTIN
15. HON. OLAJIDE ADEYEYE – IFE EAST

INTRODUCTION

1.1 We are counsel retained by the Petitioners to bring the contraventions and/ or non-compliance with the provisions of Items 1, 6 and 9, Part 1, Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic, 1999 by the Respondents to the notice of this Code of Conduct Bureau with a view to assisting you to investigate and recommend the Respondents for prosecution before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

1.2 Your Petitioners are the honourable members of the Osun State House of Assembly who were elected under the platform of the Action Congress to represent the state constituencies appearing opposite their respective names. Your petitioners swore to uphold and observe the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

1.3 The Respondents are also the honourable members of the Osun State House of Assembly who were elected under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party to represent the state constituencies appearing opposite their respective names. The Respondents also swore to uphold and observe the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

1.4 This Petition is brought against the Respondents for contravening Items 1, 6 and 9, Part 1, Fifth Schedule to the 1999 Constitution.

2.0 Contraventions Underlying This Petition

2.1 The Respondents received public funds into their private purses to execute constituencies projects and thereby put themselves in a position where their personal interest to show off to their constituencies that they are performing as elected representatives conflict with their duties and responsibilities as law makers and persons meant to investigate and inquire into the proprietary or otherwise of the activities of the executives.

2.2 The Respondents used their positions as members of the Osun State House of Assembly to receive N5 Million each as benefits for their respective constituencies even when the Constitution does not empower them to directly confer such benefits on the people.

2.3 The Respondents acted arbitrarily when they received N5 Million each into their private accounts to perform the duties of execution of projects for their constituencies when they knew that it is not their constitutional duties to execute projects and when due process was and could never have been followed by them in the execution of such projects.

2.4 Since the arbitrary acts referred to in Para 2.3 above will affect the commonwealth i.e. the public funds belonging to the entire people of Osun State, the arbitrary act has affected the rights/obligations of the Petitioners, and even the Respondents to deliver on their electoral promises.

2.5 By collecting the said sum of N5Million each, the Respondents have also violated the conscience of the electorate who placed them in their sacred duty of watching over the executives in their execution of the law and public projects.

3.0 Background Facts

3.1 As part of the numerous steps to fulfil their electoral promises to their individual constituencies, members of the Osun State House of Assembly recently passed resolutions directing the executives to undertake projects in each of the 26 Constituencies in the state (otherwise referred to as “Constituency projects’’).

3.2 It was further agreed that a dedicated consolidated accounts would be opened to allow for an equitable execution of the projects and ensure accountability, sound planning and execution of the projects and rid the projects of vices.

3.3 Rather strangely, on the 9th day of April, 2008, the Government of Osun State, under the leadership of His Excellency, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, directed the payments of the sums of N5Million Naira each into the private accounts of the 26 legislators in the Osun State House of Assembly to enable them use the money to execute projects which they individually desired for their respective constituencies.

3.4 Particularly, the Petitioners informed us that they received credit alerts from their banks showing that their respective bank accounts had been credited with the sum of N5Milllion each by the Osun State Government on the said 9th of April, 2008. It is however instructive to note that these lodgements were made without obtaining the consents of the Petitioners.

3.5 Convinced that their constitutional duties are broadly limited to law making and performance of the functions of overseeing the activities of other arms of government i.e. the executive and the judiciary, the Petitioners promptly returned the monies paid into their respective bank accounts to the Osun State Government through their letter dated 24-04-08, addressed to the 1st Respondent and jointly signed by your Petitioners. They also persuaded their PDP counterparts to follow suit by returning the N5Million Naira of the Osun State Government fund paid into their private accounts but they have refused to do so till date. Photocopies of the letter of 24-04-08, Cheques, deposit slips and transfer forms with which Osun State Government paid N5Million Naira into the Petitioners’ private accounts are herein attached as Schedules A to L.

5.0 How The Facts Stated Above Constitute Contraventions And/ Or Non- Compliance With The Provisions Of the Code Of Conduct For Public Officers Contravention of Item 1, Part 1, Fifth Schedule To the 1999 Constitution.

5.1 From the documents attached to this petition and the facts stated hereinbefore, it is put beyond question that the Respondents accepted N5Million Naira paid into their private accounts by the Government of Osun State for the purpose of executing constituencies’ projects.

5.2 It is also undisputable that it is the personal interest of each of the Respondents to show their constituencies that they are working or performing. In so far as the execution of projects is not the duty of the Respondents, accepting public monies to execute projects amount to pursuing their personal interest. In other words, if the Constitution which the Respondents swore to uphold did not authorise them to do an act, doing the acts will be pursuing their personal interests and agenda.

5.3 Rather than show how well they represent their respective constituencies by concentrating on law making and performing the functions of oversights, they overstepped their boundaries by accepting public funds into their private accounts to execute projects.

5.4 By Section 4(7) of the 1999 Constitution, the duties of the members of the House of Assembly of a state is to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the State. Also, while section 5(2)(a) vests the executive powers of a state in the Governor of the state, section 5(2)(b) of the same Constitution states that the executive powers of a state:

    “shall extend to the execution and maintenance of this Constitution, all laws made by the House of Assembly of the State, and to all matters with respect to which the House of Assembly has for the time being powers to make laws.’’

5.5. As a corollary to the law making powers of the House of Assembly of a state, Section 128 vests the House with oversight functions in the following words:

(1) subject to the provisions of this Constitution, a House of Assembly shall have power by resolution published in its journal or in the official Gazette of the Government of the State to direct or cause to be directed an inquiry or investigation into-

    a.) any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make laws; and
    b.) the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, Ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged with the duty of or responsibility for-
    i. executing or administering laws enacted by the House of Assembly; and
    ii. disbursing or administering moneys appropriated or to be appropriated by such House.

(2) The powers conferred on a House of Assembly under the provisions of this section are exercisable only for the purpose of enabling the House to-

    a.) make laws with respect to any matter within its legislative competence and correct any defects in existing laws; and
    b.) expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it (Underlining ours)

5.6. Part of the law which the House of Assembly is empowered to make is the Appropriation Act. The law making powers of the House of Assembly is so vast that until the House passes the appropriation bill into law, the government’s capacity to spend will be seriously hampered.

5.7. We submit that apart from their duties and responsibilities to make laws, the House of Assembly is empowered to investigate or inquire into the execution of projects and contracts awards with a view to using the words of Section 128(2), expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it.

5.8. Therefore, the conclusion that it is not the duties and/or responsibilities of the Respondents to execute projects but that of the executives is very apposite.

5.9. Now Item 1, Part 1, 5th Schedule to the 1999 Constitution provides as follows:
“a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities’’

5.10. By accepting public funds into their private accounts to execute projects for their constituencies, we submit that each of the Respondents have put themselves in a position where their personal interests (not public interest since the act is unconstitutional) conflict with their duties and responsibilities.

5.11. Section 128 of the 1999 Constitution is clear on the oversight functions of the legislature, including the Respondents herein, and the ends the oversight function is designed to achieve. Since the ends are to expose corruption, inefficiency and waste, how can the Respondents achieve this when they are the dramatis personae whose activities are to be investigated? Put in another way, does it not amount to the Respondents putting themselves in a position where they are judges in their own cause if they execute projects and investigate whether same was carried out under an atmosphere devoid of waste, inefficiency and corruption?. We therefore submit that by accepting to execute projects, the Respondents have put themselves in a position where their personal interests conflict with their duties and responsibilities under Section 128 of the 1999 Constitution.
Contravention of Item 6(1), Part 1, Fifth Schedule
To the 1999 Constitution.

5.12. Item 6(1) provides that: “A public officer shall not ask for or accept property or benefits of any kind for himself or any other person on account of anything done or omitted to be done by him in the discharge of his duties”.

5.13. We rely on the statement of facts and the submission made hereinbefore.

5.14. From the background facts, the followings points are not in dispute:

5.14.1.1 that the Respondents are legislators;

5.14.1.2 that the Respondents were paid N5Million each to execute constituencies’ projects because they are legislators;

5.14.1.3 that the N5Million amounts to benefits meant to be conferred on the people of the individual constituencies of the Respondents;

5.14.1.4 that the act of the Respondents in accepting to execute projects clearly violates the provisions of Section 4 and 5 of the 1999 Constitution, amongst others;

5.14.1.5 that the Respondents received the N5Million Naira each personally.

5.15 We therefore submit that the acts of the Respondents contravene the provisions of Item 6(1), Part 1, Fifth Schedule to the 1999 Constitution.
Contravention of Item 9, Part 1, Fifth Schedule
To the 1999 Constitution

5.16 Item 9 provides that : a public officer shall not do or direct to be done, in abuse of his office, any arbitrary acts prejudicial to the rights of any other person knowing that such act is unlawful or contrary to any government policy.

5.17 We rely on our submissions above and the background facts to urge you to decide that the acts of the Respondents amount to a contravention of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers.

5.18 We submit that the Item 9 is designed to punish acts which amount to arbitrariness on the part of Public Officers. An act will be arbitrary if done in flagrant disregard of due process and the Constitution.

5.19 As demonstrated above, the Respondents are not the officers charged with the responsibilities of executing projects but the executives. The people of Nigeria in general and Osun State, in this case, deserve a government which rule according to the law and not according to whims and caprices. The right of the people to a decent government has therefore been breached. Also, the Petitioners, as well as the Respondents, equally swore to defend the Constitution and deliver the goods to their constituencies. This arbitrariness therefore amounts to a violation of the conscience of the electorate who placed them in their sacred duty of watching over the executives in their execution of the law and public projects.

5.20 Further, we urge you to hold that the acts of the Respondents make nonsense of Section 128 of the 1999 Constitution which empowers the legislators to investigate and inquire into the execution of projects for which they have appropriated money.

5.21 As clearly stated in Section 128(2)(b), the essence of the legislative investigation and inquiry is to expose corruption, inefficiency and waste. We contend that anything that hampers the Respondents duties under Section 128 will be giving an unbridled license to waste, corruption and inefficiency.

6.0 Reliefs Sought By The Petitioners

6.1 In view of the foregoing, we respectfully pray this Bureau as follows:

6.1.1.1 that the allegations of non-compliance and/or contraventions of Items 1, 6 and 9, Part 1, Fifth Schedule to the 1999 Constitution brought against the Respondents be investigated by the Code of Conduct Bureau;

6.1.1.2 that the Respondents be recommended for prosecution by the Code of Conduct Tribunal pursuant to Item 15(1), Part 1 of the Fifth Schedule to the 1999 Constitution.

6.2 While pledging our co-operation in the investigation and prosecution of the Respondents herein, we urge that you do your part in making our system work, given that the problems of Nigeria is not in the scarcity of laws to sanitise our systems but rather it is in the implementation of these laws.

6.3 This petition presents to you another valuable opportunity in history.

Thank you.
Yours faithfully,

TOPE ADEBAYO ESQ.

OSUN DEFENDER’S DAY OF GLORY

It was for this newspaper, a defining moment, a moment to relish. An opportunity to salute the vision that brought the medium into being, a great moment to validate what we stood for all these years by the very people on whose behalf we took on the mission to inform, educate, and edify- in the enterprise to wrest the state from the deadly afflictions of incompetence, mediocrity, and electoral banditry.

A newspaper conceived in the crucible of battle couldn’t have chosen a better time to do its launch as was the case on February 26, 2007 at the MUSON Centre in Lagos, when the world literally stood still for Osun Defender. It was a moment of celebrations and stock-taking.

From Osogbo to Ila-Orangun; from Ikire to Gbongan; from Ile-Ife to Okuku extending to every corner of our dear state, they came. It was humbling to see the rich and the poor alike troop out in their numbers to make our day: the ordinary folks – our fellow foot soldiers with whom we have marched shoulder-to-shoulder in battle – to confront evil currently preying in our dear state. It was touching to hear from these worthy citizens that Osun Defender has lived to its billings as the authentic voice of the people.

To you all, we owe a debt of gratitude; without your invaluable contributions and support, our message would never have amounted to anything.

It is only natural to acknowledge what became the icing on the cake of epochal event- the brilliant lecture delivered by the erudite scholar and Professor of Law, Itse Sagay SAN, chaired by an equally distinguished scholar and professor of International Law, Akin Oyebode on the subject “Election Tribunals and the Survival of Democracy”?

It was our modest contribution to the debate on our democratic future.

Coincidentally, two interrelated events would render the historic launch truly historic. The first is that the launch was coming against the background of the ruling by Justice Naron-led tribunal in the petition between the Action Congress (AC) gubernatorial candidate, Rauf Aregbesola and his Peoples Democratic Party counterpart, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, in which the tribunal hatched a classic Jud-el-ex coup (apologies to the late sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo) – when it decided, contrary to expectations, to shut out vital forensic evidence in the matter before it.

The other development was the ruling on the consolidated petitions of former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar challenging the election of President Umaru Yar’Adua.

Both events, both for their timing could have overshadowed the launch; that this was far from being the case says a lot about the relevance of our theme and the timeliness of our gospel. The two developments would also remind that the battle is still a long way ahead.

On our honour, we pledge never to be bystanders in the unfolding events in our potentially great country. We will continue to do battle with the forces holding the people down even as we point the way forward for our people. This is the struggle that has endeared us to the people.

We appreciate that the large turnout of the people at the launch couldn’t be anything other than a testimonial to our unassailable integrity as well as the relevance and the timeliness of our message; we would continue to speak truth to power no matter what it costs. In return for standing by Osun Defender when the powers-that-be were sworn to hound us out of town, we can only restate our solemn pledge to remain their authentic voice.

THE SLAVE BOY WHO TURNED BISHOP – Samuel Ajayi Crowther

Bishop Samuel Ajayi CrowtherThose whom God love, so a saying goes, He leaves His mark on them before they are born. Samuel Ajayi Crowther, a Yoruba son, later to become Bishop of Western Equatorial Africa, and the first African to be so honoured, was one such man.

There came an expedition in 1841, which over-riding purpose was to bring Christianity to our shores and remove the evils of slave trade from our midst, that a stalwart Yoruba son, himself having been miraculously rescued from the hands of a slave dealer who had taken him as far as the territorial waters of Sierra Leone, was to make not only his presence felt, but leave his name as a monument in the history of Nigeria, West Africa and the world.

The name, Samuel Ajayi Crowther  continues to ring like a bell today, not only in Christian churches and homes, but throughout our society. We came across it in Sunday school lessons, and drank in the written words about him in text books during very young age at school.

Having thus been removed from the hands of a slave merchant in 1822, and because of his discernable high intelligence by missionaries in Sierra Leone, he was sent to the local C.M.S. School in Freetown, for what was to become his first step in the acquisition of knowledge. This was only the beginning of things to come.

Little Ajayi, who quickly demonstrated that he would not be found wanting as far as intelligence and academic baptized and given the significant biblical name of Samuel. He however shrewdly for one so young kept his Yoruba name of Ajayi.

It soon became obvious to the group of missionaries who were his benefactors that to educate young Samuel Ajayi only in Sierra Leone would be doing the lad an injustice, as it wouldn’t be enough. For to properly educate him was outside the scope of the then West Africa teachers and institutions.

And so, he was dispatched to a parochial school in Arlington, London, where the surname, Crowther, the name of notable Church Missionary Society member was added to his other two names. From then on, he became known as Samuel Ajayi Crowther.

At the completion of his education in Britain he returned to Sierra Leone, the very place he had been taken to off a slave ship. And it was from there that the most turning point of his life and career began. For he found himself given pride of place among English missionaries and some Africans, setting out on the already mentioned expedition with the two-fold mission – bringing Christianity, and the abolition of slave trade.

Although Christianity had already taken hold in Liberia, and in the then Gold Coast, (now Ghana) and of course is Sierra Leone, it had not at all found any footing in Nigeria. Islamism and paganism were then the practiced religious. To remedy this oversight, and largely seek converts particularly among the pagans, was actually necessary among members of the expedition.

To go a step further, the inclusion and the presence of  Samuel Ajayi Crowther among these enterprising gentlemen, it was hoped, would help to convert the Nigerian masses.

And it came about that in the July of the same year after having weathered sea-sickness and various other discomforts, that they reached the Niger, and began their work in earnest, and with feverish zeal.

While expounding the merits of Christianity with natural rulers, they at the same time, signed treaties on the abolition of slave trade, and in its place substituted more palatable trade agreements on the supply of legitimate goods in order that slave dealers would not incur trade deficits since their once lucrative source of livelihood, the sale of their fellow country men to foreign entrepreneurs must be made to cease perpetually.

On and on they went, in villages and hamlets until June 1842, when they felt their mission was accomplished, and the expedition therefore came to and end. The English members were instructed to return home, while the Africans among them were to be disembarked at Cape Coast in the then Gold Coast, also in Sierra Leone, and Cape Palmas.

The fruit of the labour of the distinguished Crowther, and other little known African members among the expedition were soon realized by Mr. Henry Venn, who was then the general secretary of the Church Missionary Society.

What the inclusion of Africans, particularly Crowther in the expedition Christianity would be better served if African clergy played a more prominent role since they spoke the language of the people. Not only that Henry Venn also knew that only the African clergy would understand the true African mind as well as their behaviour. And with this line of reasoning, he at once realized that in Samuel Ajayi Crowther, he had found the right man for the right job.

It therefore fell into the scheme of things that Crowther was made the head of the Anglican Church in Western Equatorial Africa. Bur before this came to pass, he was ordained a priest in London at the end of which he delivered to the congregation who had watched him so ordained such a moving sermon, that they could not help but impressed.

The result was that when the Yoruba Mission was founded at Abeokuta by Mr. Henry Townsend, Crowther was naturally included.

Crowther’s task however, was not allowed to end at Abeokuta. It spread father afield into the Niger delta. As he went along, the spreading of Christianity gained the upper hand, while the sale of his fellow Africans to foreigners diminished before his very eyes. Not a man happy to sit on his laurels, he marched on, making friends and bringing them to the fold.

Thus, it was. That Samuel Ajayi Crowther, whom God smiled upon, and who for his part, demonstrated equally through sheer handwork, that smile was not wasted on him found himself proposed by the same Mr. Henry Venn as Bishop of Western Equatorial Africa.

Typical of Crowther, he refused the honour, while Henry Venn insisted much to the anger of Henry Townsend who felt that he was better equipped and more importantly, deserved that honour better than Crowther, and bitterly opposed it.

The handwriting was however already on the wall, and the moving finger having written that Crowther should be made Bishop, had moved on, And Samuel Ajayi Crowther according to the handwriting on the wall, was in 1864, ordained Bishop in the ancient and magnificent historic Canterbury cathedral in Kent, South East England.

Nevertheless, to soothe the jealousy and ruffled feelings of European missionaries, the missions of Abeokuta, Lagos and Freetown, Sierra Leone were excluded from Crowther’s diocese.

But these, were the least of Crowther’s worries as he went from strength to strength, expended, and brought more and more souls into the fold of Christian doctrine.

•Culled from Headlines.

CRISIS THAT ROCKED A CATHEDRAL

When the Very Reverend Festus Oluwole Segun, the then provost of the Christ Church Cathedral, Marina, Lagos, was consecrated the Bishop of the Northern (Anglican) Dioceses in 1970, he was succeeded by the Very Rev. Sope Johnson, formerly the Director of religious programmes, Nigeria broadcasting Corporation (NBC).

After five years as the Bishop of the North, based in Kaduna, the Rt. Rev. Segun came back to Lagos, and was enthroned in February 1975 as the Bishop of Lagos Dioceses. He had his seat at the Christ Church Cathedral, Marina.

However, while he was away in the North, the new provost had introduced the modern form of worship as was used in England. He brought in a new communal service with the introduction of “Series II” a book of shortened “Common Prayers”. This, the bishop did not approve of.

On April 7, three months after he was enthroned, Bishop Segun issued a decree which banned provost Johnson’s method. In the new directive, he ordered that only the book of “Common Prayers”, shall be used in conducting morning and evening services, the administration of sacraments, and other occasional service.

Also that there should no longer be celebration of the Holy Communion at funerals except with his permission. He also forbade the use of the “Missal” a book of worship containing a mode of worship. All rites and forms, having relationship, or similarity to the Roman Catholic form were also proscribed. Bishop Segun also wanted the third altar, erected at the foot of the chancery steps (an eastern part of the church reserved for the clergy), and in the cathedral removed. The altar in every church in the Diocese of Lagos was to revert to its statutory position, while the dresses worn by the priests for Holy Communion Services should be made optional.

The congregation rejected this changes, and denied learning towards Catholicism. They said, “We have neither burnt incense nor tinkle bells, and if there should be any change, it must receive the blessing of the church before it becomes law”.

These directives brought a cold war between the Bishop and the Congregation, with the Provost in the centre.

The crisis came into the open on May 6 1975, while Bishop Segun was addressing the 19th Synod. He re-stated his decree, and charged that Roman Catholic terms like Mass”, and “requiem” were forbidden. He said that morning and evening services should be conducted from the scribed it as a Vicar’s provost’s stall, and that there should be no celebration of the Holy Communion at funerals, unless approved by the Bishop.

A faction of church elders dissociated themselves from these charges, and departure from the normal practice of the diocese. The situation got out of hand how-ever, when on May 15, 1975, and during a ceremonial service conducted by the provost, the Bishop put off the candle. He did this to back his opposition to “all tendency towards Anglo Catholicism or Roman Catholicism in the Diocese of Lagos”.

This action was condemned by a faction of church leaders, and they promptly held an emergency meeting at the end of the service, to decide what steps to take. They appointed an eight-member team, to join the church’s standing committee in a peace meeting.

Members of the congregation chosen were Chief Dr. Akinola Maja, Chief Dr. E. N.O. Sodeinde, Mr. N.O.A Morgan, Mr. J.B. Daramola and Chief Mrs. Way, were also chosen to attend the proposed meeting. The congregation team was mandated to request for a meeting with the Bishop, and to also demand that the chancellor, Mr. Justice John Adefarasin be present.

The Bishop, however, maintained that the mode of worship, up to April 6, – 1975, be changed. At a meeting of the executive body of the Anglican Diocese of Lagos – the Diocesan Board, passed a vote of implicit confidence in the leadership and administration of Bishop Segun, for steps taken regarding the two-month old crisis. Copies of the resolution, sent to Synod members and which were pasted on notice boards of all Anglican churches in Lagos, affirmed that the Bishop had acted properly, in accordance with both the constitution of the diocese, and that of the Church of the Province of West Africa.

The resolution signed by the Lagos Synod Secretary, Mr. Femi Oyewole, expressed grave concern over the crisis, and assured all, “Gods people”, that the matter was well under control. The board expressed disapproval on the happenings in the Cathedral, and the Lagos Diocese in general. But this did not quell the crisis.

The congregation accused the Bishop of betraying a trust placed in him. It was said that prior to the Bishop’s Conference held in Lagos in 1975, the Rt. Rev. Segun was given a letter to the Archbishop of West Africa, The Most rev. M.N.C.O. Scott, who also attended. In the letter, the Bishops at the conference had been asked to find time to deliberate on the mode of worship crisis raging in the cathedral. The bishop was also copied. However, it was discovered that the letter was never handed to the Archbishop. Suspecting that their letter was not delivered, members of the “chapter House” personally took a copy of the letter to him.

Their suspicion was confirmed by the reply of the Archbishop. It was on the basis of, “this is a reply to the letter dated 4th August; which you handed to me last Sunday” that members of the chapter house brought up the accusation of the “Great Betrayal”.

During the 20th Synod meeting in May 1976, Bishop Segun defended himself over the 12-month-old liturgical controversy. He stated that there had been no betrayal in his action as claimed by the agitators. He told participants that the church was, “facing a trying period, and never in its history”, he added, “has there been such and inside hob of church demolition as is evident today”. “Evil forces are not merely living up against the church, they are forming a church. And evil seems to triumph, when good men do nothing. But sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, truth will prevail in the end, and justice will have its way”.

He lamented that since the crisis began a lot of libelous articles, fraught with great deal of untruth had been published on the subject of churchmanship in the Cathedral, but because the Diocesan board decided not to engage in any Press controversy, the public did not have facts of the matter.

In his voluminous address to the Synod the bulk of which contained a separate 27point, strongly worded statement subtitled “Very Rev. Sope Johnson”, Bishop Segun denounced the churchmanship or the traditional mode of worship in the entire diocese, and lashed at the intransigence of Rev. Johnson over it. He said that beside the mode of worship being evangelical, it is also a constitutional issue.

“That is why the constitution requires every clergyman to make and subscribe to and sign an oath”, he added. The Bishop spoke of the opposition on the retired Bishop, the Rt. Rev S.I. Kale towards Rev. Johnson’s tendency to Anglo-Catholicism, adding that when he notice same, he opposed it, and gave his directives on April 17, 1975. calling for a return to the Constitutional and traditional mode of worship in the entire diocese.

In March 1976, the congregation called on the Bishop and Provost to revert to the pre-April 7, 1975, mode of worship or quit. The call was also extended to other priests in the diocese. Copies of the letter containing this request was given to the Provost and the priests. The call was made when Provost Johnson declared he was bound to obey Bishop Segun’s directives.

They asked provost and the Diocesan priests to choose between them (standing committee), and Bishop Segun. The letter dated March 15, 1976, stated, “for ten months, patience has been exercised, until at the Annual vestry meeting, held on February 29, 1976. A resolution was passed by a show of hands (162 in favour, one against with seven abstentions), that the pre-7th of April, 1975, mode of worship in the cathedral, be restored with immediate effect”.

“We the accredited members of the Cathedral church, elected into the standing committee Diocesan Clergy, that they are obliged to carry out the wish of the congregation. If any members of the Clergy is not disposed to carry out the wishes of the congregation, in connection with the mode of worship mentioned above, we would urge them to make their exit, or be replaced by other Clergy, who are prepared to carry out our wishes”. The letter concluded “we entertain every hope that good counsel will prevail, and that the Clergy will give the fullest consideration of this matter, in the interest of church unity”.

As the crisis went on to the eleventh month, Bishop Segun reacted and instituted an ecclesiastical court against the Provost. He also suspended the Very Rev. Sope Johnson from office, until the case against him was cleared. The Bishop transferred the two Clergymen helping the Provost, Rev. S.O.M. Adebola, and Rev. J. K. Adekanye, from the parish to Iwaya, and Onigbagno circuits respectively.

The court action which contained a seven-count charge of breach of ecclesiastical order and disobedience of lawful order, given by the Very Rev. Sope Johnson. The court was to start trial on April 28, 1978, at the Bishop’s court, Marina. Members would have been the Bishop or Chancellor of the Diocese, Mr. Justice J. Adefarasin, as the president, the Rt. Rev. J.S. Adeniyi (assistant Bishop), Rev. canon J.T. Idowu and Rev. Ayo Odukoya. There would also have been a lawyer and secretary to take note of proceedings.

Under the church’s constitution, the Bishop has the power to set up the court to try any Clergyman accused of false doctrine, or unauthorized ritual, or breach of ecclesiastical order, but should furnish the defendants and court members with copies of the charges, but if there was no charge, the reason for constituting the count must be stated within 21 days.

The defendants had the right to call witnesses before the court, and a legal representation who should be a communicant member, and in respect of whom the Bishop’s prior consent should have been obtained in writing. The defendant could also challenge in writing, the presence of the two Clergyman appointed by the bishop to be on the bench. The constitution stated that findings of the court, where there should be an acquittal or sentence (usually by recommending defrocking or transferring a Clergyman) should be in a nature of confidential report, which should be laid before the Bishop, who in turn should place it before the Diocesan Board, after which the defendant should be informed in writing by the Bishop.

It also pointed that sentence in all the cases hall be final, except in the case of conviction of teaching false doctrine, when an appeal, if notified to the Bishop within 28 days after the reading of the sentence before the Diocesan Board, should be allowed to the provincial Synod, but the execution of the sentence should not be suspended pending the appeal.

With the institution of the ecclesiastical court against him, Provost Sope Johnson went to the Lagos High Court. In the civil suit against Bishop Segun and three others, the Very Rev. Johnson, asked the court to stop them from trying him. Joined in the suit against Bishop Segun were, Rt. Rev. J.S. Adeniyi, Rev. Canon Idowu and rev. Ayo Odukoya.

In his ruling of April 1976, Mr. Justice Boonyamin Kazeem ordered the ecclesiastical court to stop proceedings. He also ordered the Provost to continue his duties, until the case is determined by the Lagos High Court.

As the matter went to the Judiciary, the Anglican Archbishop of West Africa, the Most Rev. M.N.C.O. Scott, called for a ceasefire, his message was brought to delegation, sent to effect a settlement. They pleaded with Rev. Johnson to withdraw his court action, to lay a sound foundation for effecting peaceful solution to the problem.

Oba Oyekan II of Lagos, expressed disgust over the matter and told the Synod to do, “What you can, to keep the church going”. The Alake of Abeokuta, Oba Lipede also intervened.

The call for peace fell on deaf ears. Instead, Bishop Segun and three others, brought another application, asking that the court set aside the order of April 13, 1976, which stated that Rev. Johnson should continue his duties, until the determination of their grievances. The application was brought by Mr. Afolabi Lardner, the counsel who represented the Bishop and three others.

However, when the court resumed sitting on May 11, 1976, it received letter, written by Bishop Segun, informing the provost that all the actions taken against him had been withdrawn. The letter was read by Chief Rotimi Williams, leading counsel for Provost Johnson. It read, “in view of the appeal of my brother bishops, I have decided to, and do hereby discontinue the ecclesiastical court, which was contemplated in my letter under reference together with order of suspension, which is herby withdrawn. It is my prayer and hope, that you will on your part, uphold the provisions of the constitution of this Diocese, and the oath which you took”.

After reading the letter however, Chief Williams, told the court that Provost Johnson should have been consulted before the letter was sent to court, so that both parties could have met, to set out the terms of settlement. He stated that the Bishop had no power to have suspended the provost, adding that the constitution of the Diocesan Synod, on which Bishop Segun based his actions was illegal.

He submitted that there were many issues for the court to resolve, adding, for instance, that the constitution of the Diocesan of West Africa did not permit the Bishop to be a member of the ecclesiastical court, let alone allowing him prefer charges as he done. He told the court that legal representation by an aggrieved person, did not need the approval of the Bishop as he had claimed. He told the court that the case should go on, that it should not come to an end because of the letter.

In his ruling, on may 17, 1976, Mr. Justice Kazeem, said the matter must continue despite the letter. The judge noted the motion filed Bishop Segun and three others, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to deal with the matter. He also held that Provost Johnson had legal right to seek prohibition order, at the time he instituted the action, adding that the order would exist until such order had been set aside, or the prohibition proceedings had been substituted by a new procedure.

The judge held that the case could not be unilaterally terminated by the act of the Bishop, as contained in his letter. Moreover, he went on, setting up of the court was questioned in the prohibition proceedings on constitutional grounds, which were yet to be determined, secondly, the suspension of the applicant by the Bishop, had been stayed by the court, pending the final determination of the matter. “And it seems to me that unless that order of stay has been discharged, the suspension order by the Bishop cannot in my view be withdrawn by him”, Mr. Justice Kazeem ruled.

After three adjournments however, the case was both withdrawn from the court because both parties had agreed to settle the dispute out of court. This agreement was made with the intervention of other Bishops. But not until Bishop Segun had agreed to compromise with the congregation.

The agreement was that the controversial mode of worship should not be stopped entirely. Up to the moment, the book said to be “Akin” to “Roman Catholicism” is now used twice in a month as part of the agreement between the Bishop and the congregation.

•Culled from HEADLINE.