The Supreme Court has brought to an end the long legal battle in the Assembly of God Church over the sacking of its General Superintendent, Pastor (Prof) Paul Emeka, when it resolved in favour of the Church.
The apex court dismissed the appeal brought before it by the ex-General Superintendent and pastor on the ground that his case lacked merit and substance.
In the lead judgment delivered by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, the court held that it was wrong of Pastor Emeka to have instituted an action on the enforcement of his fundamental human rights to association in a matter involving the Church as a Non-Governmental Organization.
The jurist ruled that the provision of fundamental human rights as enshrined in section 36 of the 1999 constitution did not cover a pastor sacked and expelled by a church.
The ruling said, “being a pastor, General Superintendent and member of a church is not a fundamental right as envisaged in the 1999 constitution. The remedy for the removal of the appellant as a pastor, General Superintendent and a member of the respondent does not fall within section 36 because the right to be a pastor is not a constitutional one.”
Moreover, the apex court in its judgment agreed that the appellant failed to serve the originating summon on the respondents as required by law.
In particular, the Supreme Court held that it was wrong of the appellant to have at the trial level, served his originating summon on No. 5, Mbalano Street Enugu, in Enugu State, when the order of the Enugu High court was so specific and categorical that the court process must be served on Evangel House of the Church in Enugu.
The court further held that the case of wrongful service of originating summon was made clear in an affidavit deposed to by a court bailiff in Enugu that he served originating summon on one Shadrack Lawrence through one Richard Ake, when the Enugu High Court ordered that the summon must be taken to the Evangel House of the Church.
The court said that in the eyes of the law, the originating summon was not served on the appropriate party as required by law, hence the respondent cannot be held liable since the issue of service is a fundamental one in law.
The apex court therefore dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit.
The ex-General Superintendent had sued the General Council of the Assembly of God Church, seeking enforcement of his fundamental rights to membership of the church, its pastoral and General Superintendent.