The Lagos State Government has shut down the headquarters of the Lord’s Chosen and Charismatic Revival Church on Ijesha, Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Lagos, southwest Nigeria over environmental nuisance.
The Lord’s Chosen is founded by Pastor Lazarus Muoka, who serves as the General Overseer of the church.
Officials of the Ministry of the Environment shut down the church on Sunday morning and prevented the worshippers from having their Sunday service usually attended by thousands of faithful.
Investigations revealed that the church does not have solid waste disposal facility. It burns its waste inside the church premises, thereby exposing the lives of its worshippers to serious health hazard.
A substantial part of the sprawling church lies on the Odo Asimawu Canal drainage channel, thereby impeding the flow of storm water.
The church also built its toilets on the canal, thereby discharging all its human waste into the canal.
In order prevent an outbreak of epidemic, the state government had to seal the entire church premises.
The government accused the church of defacing and degrading the environment and refusing to abate the nuisance even after it had been served abatement notice to upgrade the environment.
Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, said the church had committed lots of environmental abuse which it must abate before the massive edifice could be re-opened by the government as such illegality could not be tolerated any longer.
According to him, the church did not have proper waste management system, adding that it burnt its refuse inside the church, an action which ran fowl of the environmental and sanitation law of the state.
“The church does not have proper sanitary system and they discharge their wastes into the canal. Most of their members trade on the expressway and we don’t want that,” he stated.
Bello added that the church would only be re-opened if it constructed new toilets as well as bagged its solid waste as well as managed such waste properly, saying that the church must build a sewage septic tank for the treatment of waste water.
“The conditions for reopening the church must include: complete sanitization of the entire church environment, putting in place proper solid waste facility, stoppage of refuse burning, removal of all structures on drainage channel, building of new toilet facilities, evacuation of solid waste dumped inside the canal and so on,” he said.
Bello assured that the state government would not shirk its responsibility of protecting Lagos environment and ensure that its residents were protected from environmental abuse.
The commissioner stated that the church must also ensure that none of its member trade on the expressway, while the church must remove illegal attachments built on drainage channel alignment in the area.
He said any structure to be erected by the church must be about 50 metres away from the drainage channel and ensure that the environment was kept clean, after which the government would re-open the church.
This morning, members of the church were working frantically to clean up their environment.
They have also begun massive demolition of structures built on drainage alignment.
The church spokesman, Pastor Chidi, declined to comment on the closure, saying he had not been officially briefed by the General Overseer of the church, Pastor Lazarus Muoka.