Ukraine Intensifies Probe Of Nigerian Pastor As Fear Of Discrimination Rises

UKRANIAN police has summoned a famous Nigerian Pastor, Mr. Sunday Adelaja, who pastors the country’s biggest church based in Kiev, the capital city, to report for what is feared may be an arrest and detention in a controversial case bordering on racial discrimination and religious victimization, which has been going on for the last three years, Empowered Newswire reports.

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Confirming the invitation by the nation’s Internal Affairs Ministry in an interview over the weekend, Adelaja said the case for which he is being summoned is about the collapse of a business-King’s Capital which was owned by members of his church, but for which he or the church administration had no formal or official relationship.

The Nigerian born, Ukranian pastor, Sunday Adelaja who was described last year by the New York Times as one of the country’s “best known public figures” is facing what is seen by many as trumped up charges in a country, where another Nigerian young man was recently charged with attempted murder after he fought to defend himself from the assualt of 4 Ukrainian attackers.

Adelaja who is founder and pastor of what is widely regarded as the largest church in Europe, The Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for All Nations in Kiev, Ukraine spoke in an exclusive chat with Empowered Newswire.

He said he has been summoned by the Ukraine national police, under the former socialist nation’s Internal Affairs Ministry to appear on Tuesday August 28 on charges bordering on how members of his church ran a business enterprise King’s Capital aground, and also allegations that he is running a crime organization.

That business may have been worth about $100m, according to Adelaja’s church reporting on the case.

Dismissing the allegation as mere political charges that bears no resemblance to fact, Adelaja said “in Ukraine you don’t have to commit a crime before you are accused, you only have to be targetted.”

In the same vein, his attorney, a well-known Ukrainian lawyer, Andrey Fedur stated also that as far as the law is concerned Adelaja ” cannot be punished, for he does not have anything to do with this case. The charges are absolutely made up and have no foundation.”

According to a New York Times report last year, ” Adelaja has built a vast religious organization under the banner of his church, Embassy of God. He has become one of Ukraine’s best known public figures,” making him by far a significant leader in the country whose favor politicians have curried in the past causing them to win victories to high public positions.

While Adelaja’s political battle has been on for over several years now, since 2009, the invitation to the state police on Tuesday is seen as a heightening of the case, after some members of the church have been detained for over two years now.

Besides the Pastor himself is under constant police surveillance and not allowed to travel out of the country

A media commentator and Washington DC publisher, Dr. Segun Olanipekun writing on the summoning said alongside Adelaja five people have been accused in the church and those have been arrested by the police ahead of Pastor Sunday Adelaja’s invitation on Tuesday.

According to Olanipekun, “the church fears that this invitation and the deliberate change of the charge to a criminal one are part of the plot to jail the innocent pastor as he is seen to be a threat to the present government.”

The King’s Capital was formed by some members of Adelaja’s church, but amidst the global economic crisis, the investment company failed and many investors lost a big chunk of money. While there has been no direct link to Pastor Adelaja in the management of the company, besides that the owners are members of the church, the Ukrainian police is said to be insisting on linking Adelaja to the failure of the company and alleging criminal acts against the company. 

In previous interviews with the police, Adelaja said his questioners were always asking if he knew the church members who owned the business and he always answered in the affirmative, explaining that he was the target of the whole investigation.

It is in the same country of Ukraine that a Nigerian student Olaolu Sunkanmi Femi has been detained since last November on charges of attempted murder after he fought to defend himself against white attackers.

Media reports said last November “eye witness accounts say Olaolu and his friend who were hurled to the ground and racially abused was able to get up and grab hold of a piece of glass from a broken bottle to use in self-defense.

 

And quoting Nigerian Embassy officials in Ukraine, reports stated that “it was while he was defending himself that police arrived at the scene and the Nigerian was subsequently arrested and charged with attempted murder of five people,” who were the original assailants.

Commenting on that case, Adelaja said, “tales like that were not uncommon in Ukraine, saying “they used to kill Africans like that in the past.”

Nigerian Embassy staff are said to be involved in the students case, while Adelaja’s trials is also drawing wider international ripples, with many petition drives online fighting the pastor’s cause. One of the petitions on ipetition.com titled “Racial and Religious Persecution Against Sunday Adelaja,” the petitioners noted that “this is a textbook case of xenophobia and discrimination on religious ground.”

In addition that petition also noted that the heightening of the offensive against Adelaja may not be unconnected to the forthcoming elections in the country. According to the petition, the current persecution “is a systemic effort to discredit, persecute and incriminate Pastor Sunday Adelaja from his work as the spiritual leader…in order to dissuade votes in favor of the opposition.”

Adelaja himself, while speaking with Empowered Newswire by phone over the weekend acknowledged that there are currently political moves in place trying to negotiate with him.

Said he,” they are trying to solve the problem politically, but we can’t go public as yet on the terms, they are afraid the people may back the opposition.”

Since the country’s Orange revolution that spurred it effectively out of communism, Adelaja and his church has become a very critical force in the emergent political landscape of Ukraine. In Kiev, the local Mayor and the city are known to be very friendly with him, while even the country’s Attorney-General Mykola Onischyk has been known to speak up for him, defending his rights to innocent presumption until proven guilty.

But it is the Internall Affairs and the police that is being systematically used against the Nigerian-born pastor.

It is well known in Ukraine that in 2004, members of the church took an active part in the events of the orange revolution, which resulted in Pastor Sunday Adelaja being declared a persona non-grata to Russia by then President Vladimir Putin, accused “of being a voice and a herald of western value systems,” in the old USSR, Communist state.

 

Also in 2007, Victor Yushchenko, the former President of Ukraine reportedly informed that the Russian government that Adelaja’s church in Ukraine, “is the biggest threat to its political dominance that it held over the country.”

 


 
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