Religion

Navy stops church building project in Akwa-Ibom

By Orowo Victoria Ojieh

The Church of Christ in Owok Ette, Ikot Abasi Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, has pleaded with personnel of the NNS Jubilee, Nigerian Navy, to stop harassing and intimidating its workers.

The church criticized the continual harassment and disruption of the church project, noting that each time it mobilized workers to the site, which is located opposite the Navy base, naval personnel would disturb the project and beat up the workers.

A member of the church and medical doctor, Inemesit Ekanem, in a statement made available on Wednesday, lamented that the disruptions and harassment had hindered the progress of the project. Ekanem also added that the church had suffered tremendous losses as a result of the actions of the naval personnel.

The Nigerian Navy has however warned against raising the storey building directly opposite the base main gate due to security implications.

Reacting to the issue of the church workers being beaten and harassed, the Base Operation Officer, Navy Commander Morgan Etuk, debunked the allegation saying that naval officers are law-abiding citizens and not animals that would start beating people up.

The Base Operation Officer said, “This is a military establishment and every military establishment all over the world must have a buffer zone, a safety zone.

So, this military establishment is not an exception. “However, when they came on Saturday, one of our officers went to them and told them not to continue and it was not the first time they were told not to continue with the work. We told them of the need to come so that we could have a roundtable discussion because if the church is erected, it will become a security threat to this base.

“If you check our security architecture, you will see drums and sentries stationed all over the place. These are some of the things we use to protect this place. Coming to erect that structure, which they said was even going to be a storey building, somebody can go there and use it as an observation post to monitor what is happening inside the base, The Trumpet gathered.

“As a pastor, you will not tell me categori- cally that 100 percent of the members don’t have any criminal tendency or intentions, you heard about how criminals go about attacking military zones, killing personnel and carting away weapons. So, we have to secure our base, he added.

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Navy Commander Morgan Etuk further stated that the base has no power to give any approval or authorisation for anyone to erect a structure except the Office of National Security Adviser.

“For now that approval has not been given, so we can’t allow them to go ahead with the building project knowing full well that it will be a security threat to us”. The church threatened to drag the base to court if the harassment and intimidations of its workers continued.

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