A Nigerian pastor, who reportedly mounted the pulpit carrying an AK-47 assault rifle during church service, has been arrested by the country’s Federal Capital Territory Police Command. According to Premium Times, the Sunday incident occurred at the House on the Rock church in the West African nation’s capital city of Abuja. And Pastor Uche Aigbe’s actions reportedly caused a stir.
In a statement, police said Aigbe alongside two others were arrested after they received intelligence. A local news outlet also reported that the incident occurred as the church was holding its second service. Congregation attendance at the church during that period is said to be usually high.
Photos of the pastor in possession of the weapon went viral after they were circulated on social media. Some social media users who saw the images reportedly questioned the pastor’s actions.
“The pastor’s message and demonstrations were tagged inciting by various media and social media users,” police said in the statement. “The Church Chief Security Officer and one Inspector Musa Audu were also arrested.”
Police also said the inspector who was arrested was on duty at the time, adding that he “unprofessionally released his rifle to the said pastor without permission or recourse to police authority.”
Police said they have since launched an investigation into the incident. “The law is trite and all violators will be adequately sanctioned,” police stated.
Meanwhile, House on the Rock church released a statement Monday saying Pastor Aigbe carried the weapon in an effort to encourage the congregation to refrain from violence, Premium Times reported.
“On Sunday, February 12, a resident pastor of House on the Rock, Abuja Church, Pastor Uche Aigbe in a message about fighting the good fight with spiritual weapons, carried an unloaded gun to illustrate his message on ‘Guarding your Faith’,” the statement said.
“Pastor Uche has been a leader in House on the Rock, Abuja since 1999 and has always shown exemplary leadership. However, he realises that even with the best of intentions, carrying a gun to illustrate his message was ill-advised and regrettable.”
The church said the pastor rendered an unqualified apology after he realized the seriousness of his actions. “As a church, House on the Rock rejects all forms of violence and we stand on the good news gospel of Jesus Christ which embraces peace and goodwill for all of mankind,” the statement added.
“We are cooperating fully with the authorities as they carry out their investigations into this incident, and we will continue to engage internally to ensure this break in protocol does not happen again.”