By Ezekiel Akinemi
It has been published in the May, 1972 issue of the Gospel Defender, which I publish, that certain individuals have constituted themselves as the Registered Trustees of the Church of Christ in Nigeria. Brother Eno Otoyo of the Christian Technical School, Oyubia – Oron, who is the present leader of the board, confessed that the board was formed in 1955 for certain purposes.
A document was signed on July 23, 1955 by His Excellency, J. W. Robertson, then the Governor-General of Nigeria, stating that three men were “duly appointed Trustees of Church of Christ, Nigeria.” The three men were “Huffard, Peden, and Horton.” Some other features of the document worth quoting are:
“Aim and Objects”
“The aim and objects of the Church of Christ in Nigeria are:
1. To teach Christianity.
2. To train and develop leaders in religious and moral thought and work.
3. To encourage and assist the advancement of education in Nigeria.
1. The Trustees of the Church of Christ in Nigeria . . . shall be appointed at a general meeting of the missionaries of Churches of Christ in good standing and residing in Nigeria. 2. Such Trustees (hereinafter referred to as “The Trustees”) shall be three in number and shall be known as “Church of Christ-Nigeria, Registered Trustees.”
3. The Trustees may hold office for life.
4. Upon vacancy occurring in the number of trustees, a general meeting will be held to appoint another eligible member of the Church of Christ in Nigeria.
5. The Trustees shall apply to the Governor General for a certificate of Incorporation under the Land (Perpetual Succession) Ordinance chapter 107.
6. If such certificate is granted, the Trustees shall have the power to accept and bold in trust all land belonging to Churches of Christ subject to such conditions as the Governor-General may impose.
1. The Trustees shall have a Common Seal.
2. Such Common Seal will he kept in the custody of the Secretary who shall produce it when required for use by the Trustees.
3. All documents to be executed by the Trustees shall be signed by at least two of them and sealed with the Common Seal.”
The document further stated that the Church of Christ in Nigeria is a Corporation. The existence of this “Church of Christ Incorporated” under the rule of a Three-man “Registered Trustees” was known only to a handful of men until recently when the Trustees started to exercise their power of central control over the churches of Christ in Nigeria. Here are two instances of such exercise:
1. Last year, two evangelists from the U.S. brethren Leslie Diestelkamp and James W. Sasser applied for visas to come to Nigeria, but they were denied entry. Two congregations in Lagos sought to bear Immigration Responsibilities on behalf of these evangelists, but they were turned back because the current chairman of the “Registered Trustees,” Mr. Eno Otoyo, has signed a letter addressed to the Federal Immigration Office, Lagos, to The Nigerian Embassy, Washington, D.C. and to the Nigerian Consulate, New York, instructing them to refuse these men entry into Nigeria.
2. The Church of Christ in Owerri, East Central State, has consistently refused the false teaching of Jim Massey and rejected the overtures made to it by Stephen Okoronkwe, principal of the Onicha Ngwa Bible College, by Moses Okpara, Administrator of the Nigerian Christian Hospital, Onicha Ngwa and by J. W. Nicks, another evangelist from flie U.S. Brother John Obijuru is a strong, faithful preacher who works with the Owerri church.
After Jim Massey and his clique failed in their struggle to seduce the Owerri church from the truth, they started to intimidate Brother Obijurn and the church by every diabolical means they could muster, in order to break their resistance against error. I quote one evidence of such intimidation in a court action taken by the “Church of Christ (Inc.) Nigeria,” on February 21, 1972, in the High Court of Owerri, against Brother John Obijuru:
“Plaintiff-Church of Christ (Inc.) Nigeria.
“Defendant – John Obijuru”
“Claim: The plaintiff claims from the defendant as follows:
1. Possession of the church buildings and premises of the plaintiff situated at Owerri judicial Division.
2. An injunction restraining the defendant, his servants and agents from entering the said church building and premises again.
Dated: 9 October, 1971
Issued: 7 Feb. 1972, to appear in court-21, Feb. 1972.”
To those who understand the truth and abide in it, the above revelation must be shocking. When these things became known to some faithful preachers in Lagos, the West, the Midwest, the East Central and the South East State, approach was made to those who currently hold the office of-Registered Trustees for the Church of Christ (Inc.) Nigeria. There were two meetings held at Uyo on March 17 and April 17, 1972. In the first meeting Timothy Akpapan gave the names of the Trustees as Eno Otoyo of the Christian Technical College at Oyubia-Oron, D. M. Anako of the Bible College, at Ukpom, Stephen Okorornkwo of the Bible College at Onicha Ngwa and N. A. Udo of Uyo. Since none of these men were present in the first meeting, a second was held on April 17 where Eno Otoyo confirmed the formation of the “Registered Trustees for the Church of Christ (Inc.) Nigeria.” He also admitted that certain U. S. evangelists have been refused entry into Nigeria by the Trustees.
The error of such activity was shown, and we pleaded that Eno Otoyo should get the board to dissolve forthwith. He rejected all of our pleas. Later efforts by brethren E.Ekanem of Uyo and E. J. Ebong of Lagos to persuade the Trustees to disband were in vain.
Brethren, the “Church of Christ (Inc.) Nigeria” with a three-man rule is another denomination. No more, no less. Think of the Roman Catholic with its Ecumenical Council and the Pope of Rome as chief, the Church of England with the Synods of “Reverends” with a President as the chief, then think of the “Church of Christ (Inc.) Nigeria” with a Council of “missionaries” and a three-man board of trustees headed by Eno Otoyo.
Remember the court action taken by the “Church of Christ Inc.) Nigeria” against a faithful preacher of the gospel, who, with the Owerri church has withstood their error. You know that a brother is not supposed to take his brother to court (I Cor. 6:1-8). Then imagine the “Church of Christ (Inc.) Nigeria” suing a faithful member of the Lords church in court without any just cause! All these are proof positive that “The Church of Christ (Inc.) Nigeria” is simply another sect which has fallen from the faith.
You remember their chief propagandist, Jim Massey, who came to Nigeria some months ago with a massive ten-page article, teaching brethren that they could arrange for one church to supervise the work of the other churches. He told us that other churches can send money to one super church so that the super church does the work of the churches, taking the oversight thereof. He also has argued that it is right for one man to be appointed as “Missionary Agent” who will receive money from many churches and allocate the money to preachers at his own discretion. In other words, he teaches that one man can be a supervising evangelist who will check on any laxity among preachers by controlling their salaries. This must remind you of the district or diocesan bishops of the Church of England. Eno Otoyo, D.M. Anako and Moses Okpara have been made paymasters on many occasions. They probably are still in that position.
In addition to the above false teaching and practice, Jim Massey teaches that hospital business should be in the budget of the church 15:13) because the hospital does good to men! But I think he forgot to include the suppliers of electricity, water, roads, and mail in his budget, for all of these are also good for men!
The same Jim Massey even wanted to make us believe that the church, with its God-given personnel, is not sufficient or competent enough to carry out the work of evangelism and benevolence, hence he advocates the building of institutions such as “The School of Preaching.” In a recent American publication Massey reports that the Sunset church in Lubbock, Texas plans to open such a school in Lagos “in response to urgent requests from J. C. Thomas, Jr., who has been in Lagos five years.” You hear of the Baptist Seminaries and the Roman Seminaries where they brain up their “Reverends, Pastors, and Fathers.” “The Church of Christ (Inc.) Nigeria” schools of preaching in the East have also been turning out “diplomats of digressive preaching.” But such diplomats are like fake doctors who prescribe wrong medicine for the sick. Is Lagos prepared to swallow such? I think not.
Do the churches of Christ in Nigeria have any need for “Registered Trustees” in order for the churches to exist? There is no need for it at all on a joint basis, since each local congregation is independent of the others. There is no functioning organism through which all churches can act together. It is left to each congregation to meet the requirement of the local authority or State Government in its area if such registration is at all demanded.
Brethren, what are we to do with the fallen away brethren who refuse to turn back to God? It is simple. We must follow the word of our Lord in Rom. 16:17 and 2 in. 9-11: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have teamed; and avoid them.” “Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Pather and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed; for be that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” “The Church of Christ (Inc.) Nigeria,” with its three-man Executive rule is another plant which the heavenly Father hath not planted, and it shall be rooted up (Mt. 15:13).
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 41, pp. 7-9
August 24, 1972