Communique issued at the end of the 68th General Church Council meeting of ECWA (19th - 23rd April)

The Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) held her 68th General Church Council (GCC) meeting with emphasis on the church’s 2021 theme: Christ in you, the Hope of Glory (Colossians 1:27).

This theme was chosen to encourage believers, especially ECWA members, that though they live in these unusual times of Covid-19 pandemic and the unabating insecurity challenges and the attendant numerous other difficulties, they should not despair, because we have Christ in us, who is our glorious hope.

In the course of the 5-day meeting, elections were conducted at the end of which Rev. Dr. Stephen Baba Panya was re-elected unopposed as ECWA President for a second term of three years, while Elder Danjuma Haruna and Rev. Prof. Sunday Bobai Agang were elected as ECWA Treasurer and a member of the ECWA Board of Trustees respectively.

Elder Danjuma Haruna, the newly elected Treasurer replaces Dr. Kalu Umeh, who has successfully completed his full six-year tenure as ECWA Treasurer.

The Council also unanimously approved the creation of two District Church Councils (DCCs), first Ungwan Takwa DCC out of the present Keffi DCC and Port-Harcourt DCC out of the present Aba DCC.

The meeting had in attendance the members of the ECWA Executive, ECWA Board of Trustees, Chairmen, Secretaries, and Delegates of all the 86 District Church Councils (DCCs), ECWA Leaders from the Republic of Chad and the United States of America, Directors of the various ECWA Departments, and Chief Executive Officers of ECWA Strategic Business outfits as well as Heads of ECWA tertiary Institutions.

The Council deliberated on Church related matters, State of the nation and the global community as a whole and made the following resolutions:

1. Missions and Evangelism: Council reaffirms that ECWA was created by mission for missions, hence EMS remains the flagship department of the Church. It calls on Christians especially ECWA members to renew their support to the department and give it a new lease of life.

2. Economic Empowerment through Vocational Training: Council approved the setting up of a Bi-Vocational Ministry as well as modalities for engaging suitable members of the church into the ministry. Moves such as these are indicative of ECWA’s passion for the extension of the frontiers of God’s kingdom. It is also a testimony to her recognition of the time-tested reformation, biblical doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, which holds that the Christian ministry is not an exclusive preserve of a few ecclesial professional ministers but for all true believers in Christ.

3. Prayer Call for Revival: Council acknowledged revival as the manifestation of God’s holy presence in power and glory in the lives of individuals, families, churches, communities, and the society at large. It therefore considers Revival as the urgent need at the moment as the catalyst in ECWA for a great evangelistic and missional thrust, and as such urges all ECWA members to pray fervently for revival.

4. The General State of Insecurity in the Land: The Council observed with worry the massive and forceful takeover of ungoverned spaces by criminals and non-state actors, who obviously seem to be in control in the country vis-à-vis the seeming inability of government to decisively deal with the menace as well as protect the citizenry from these prowling merchants of death. More specifically, it expresses its concern on the following:

a. Attack on Christian Communities: The Council notes the unabated attacks on Christian communities in the Middle Belt, the north, and other parts of the country and the heedless destruction of lives and properties by Fulani Jihadist militia and Boko Haram. The Council cautions government against continuous politicization of security matters.

b. Forceful Occupation of Native Farmlands: We condemn in unequivocal terms the systematic genocide being executed against Christian and other autochthonous communities throughout Nigeria, but especially in the Middle Belt. This is typically orchestrated through continuous raid on Christian farming communities with lethal weapons, often in the dead of the night, wherein thousands of our people have been murdered in cold blood and their lands expropriated by the marauding aggressors. Examples of these abound throughout Nigeria but suffice to mention the harassment and displacement of the indigenous peoples and occupation of their lands by Fulani jihadist militia in Bachit and scores of other villages in Riyom, Bassa, and Barkin Ladi LGAs of Plateau State; the displacement of the entire Moon Council Ward of Kwande LGA as well as other communities in Guma, Logo, and Agatu LGAs of Benue state; Shiroro LGA and other communities of Niger state; Kajuru and Zangon-Kataf and other communities in Southern Kaduna; and Mongunu, Chibok, and other communities in the northeast.

The Council notes with utmost disgust the shameful neglect of the plight and deplorable conditions of the Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDPs) camps especially in Middle Belt and other parts of the country. It is true that the prolonged homelessness is gradually herding many of these displaced persons toward hopelessness and this portends ominous consequences.

Therefore, we call on the Federal Government to:

i. Rise from its lethargic slumber and wake up to its responsibilities to its citizens and ensure the return of these IDPs to their ancestral patrimonies.

ii. Assist such returning farming populations with the necessary farming input so they could reactivate their farmlands, as low farming activities spell doom for our food security agenda in the face of skyrocketing food prices.

5. Spontaneous Agitations for Succession and Restructuring: Council notes with disquiet the spontaneous agitations for restructuring and succession among the various aggrieved nationalities of the Nigerian State, which are borne out of the perturbing systemic injustices, which are rife in our polity. It, therefore calls for the implementation of the resolutions of the 2014 National Conference. The non-implementation of these resolutions that were hailed as providing the much-needed remedies for the fault lines in our faltering union nearly a decade after is allowing a bad situation to worsen, thereby causing more harm than whatever good the non-implementation was supposed to serve. We urge the Federal Government to expeditiously set in motion necessary mechanisms for the full implementation of the Conference Report so as to save the country from the precipice towards which it is precariously heading before it descends into utter chaos.

6. Set Our Captives Free: Council expresses grave apprehension that despite all assurances by the Federal Government to secure our prisoners of conscience such as Leah Sharibu, Grace Lukas, Alice Loksha, Lilian Gyang, Pastor Polycarp Zongo, and the remaining Chibok School Girls, these abductees and many others remaining in captivity. Council reiterates its call on the government to do more to produce tangible results and admonishes Christians not to relent in praying to God for His divine intervention, remembering the parable of the importunate widow, which Jesus in Luke 18 admonished us to the effect we should always pray without losing hope.

7. Political Participation: The Council notes with displeasure the high level of political apathy among Christians and encourages ECWA members and other Christians to actively join political parties of their choice. Politics is dirty only because good people abstain from it. Notwithstanding, the Council cautions pastors against partisanship. In line with this, the Council approved the setting up of Political Advisory Committees at the District Church Council level to provide guidance going forward in the new direction.

8. Unabated Kidnap of School Students: The Council notes with disapproval the troubling siege and frontal assault on education, as is manifest in the escalating menace of the kidnapping of students from institutions of learning, which raises doubts on the effectiveness of the Safe-School Initiative of the government. In this regard, the Council is sad that of late Kaduna State has become the playing field for kidnappers and bandits. We condemn the continuous holding in captivity the remaining students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, and advise the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai to have a rethink his stance and do the needful to ensure the rescue of the remaining students and those recently abducted from Greenfield University. It is our considered opinion that the issues concern the welfare of distressed and traumatized citizens of the state, and not about his personal preferences.

Cross-section of Pastors and Delegates at the 68th GCC Meeting

9. Investigation into Allegations against Serving Minister of the Federal Republic: The Council observes the serious nature of the allegations levelled against Nigeria’s current Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, the verity of which allegations he has affirmed, but is quick to excuse himself, pleading immaturity and limited knowledge for his support for terrorism at the time. We join other well-meaning Nigerians and corporate citizens like the Human Rights Writers’ Association (HURIWA), the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), and other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to demand his resignation as a member of the Federal Executive Council. Where he fails to resign voluntarily, we would expect President Buhari to relieve him of his ministerial position. We equally add our voice to the demand that the allegations against Dr. Pantami be thoroughly investigated by relevant security agencies and if indicted, he should be prosecuted in accordance with the relevant laws of the Federation. This will rekindle the faith of the citizenry in the Nigerian project and assure them that there are no sacred cows in Buhari’s cabinet. Failure to do that will make the Buhari government complicit in the divisive propaganda of dangerous elements of the society as well as the murderous activities of rampaging terrorists. Furthermore, inaction on this might inadvertently imply that President Buhari prefers the enemies of the nation over its citizens and cares little about the sanctity of the constitution he swore to abide by.

10. Attacks on Security Personnel: The Council condemns the reports of frequent assaults on security personnel (of the military, the police, correctional officers, and other para-military services) in the line of duty and views such acts as affronts on Nigeria and Nigerians, as this personnel have placed their lives in harm’s way for the safety of our lives and the integrity of our national borders. The Council commiserates with the families of deceased security operatives and advises others still in active service to always adhere to the rules of engagement in the course of carrying out their constitutional duties. It also calls on the civil populace not to take the law into their hands at the slightest provocation but should utilize all available lawful means and civil approaches in seeking redress whenever there is any perceived infringement of their Fundamental Human Rights. Notwithstanding this unqualified condemnation of such dastardly acts, the Council views with serious concern the wanton destruction of lives and property of innocent citizens in the barbaric collateral punishment the military metes out on whole communities (as recently seen in Benue, Imo, and Bayelsa states), many members of which live scores of miles away from the crime scene. Two wrongs do not make a right. Agents of the state must not act lawlessly. It behoves the intelligence community to do its due diligence and identify the culprits and bring them to book. Indeed, the Council hopes that when the martial prowess demonstrated by our military in the pursuit of our innocent, hapless, hopeless, frightened, and unarmed citizens is directed against those terrorizing our lives, the bandits and terrorists would be neutralized completely in no time. To assuage the pains of those displaced by such military misadventures, the Council appeals to the Federal Government to compensate all communities thus affected.

11. The Unjust Detention of 15 Atyap Village Heads and Youth Leaders without Trial: The Coun