The provincial secretary of the Church of Nigeria has hit back at accusations of corruption in the selection of the next Bishop of Lagos. Humphrey Olumakaiye, currently Bishop of Osun North East, was elected as the next Bishop of Lagos at an Episcopal Synod of the province on 6 February, in place of Bishop Ephraim Ademowo, who is retiring in August. The announcement of Bishop Humphrey’s translation was met with accusations in local media that the election has been “stage managed” and mired in corruption.
The Episcopal Synod, meeting at St Barnabas’ Cathedral in Ilorin, seat of the Diocese of Kwara, also elected new bishops for Aguata, Ibadan South, Northern Izon, Ondo, Oke-Ogun, and Ijumu dioceses; archbishops for the internal provinces of the Niger and Ondo; and a new provincial Dean.
Responding to the accusations, the Church of Nigeria’s episcopal secretary, Bishop David Onuoha of the Diocese of Okigwe South, said: “These publications are obviously not intended to do any good to the church. They are in the least intended to misinform and mislead the unsuspecting public.” He said that the elections were held “in accordance with the church’s laid down rules and regulations” under Canon V of the constitution and canons of the Church of Nigeria. He said that the election was “free and fair”.
In an unusual move, the province released voting figures for the election. A total of 161 bishops participated. “Candidates were nominated after the advice from the diocese, which favoured translation, had been circulated and read,” Bishop David said. “Only two candidates, the Most Revd Michael Fape and the Rt Revd Humphrey Olumakaiye were duly nominated and seconded by highly respected members of the house without any objection raised against any of them.”
He said that the secret ballot had resulted in 109 votes for Bishop Humphrey and 51 votes for Archbishop Michael. There was one abstention. “By this result, [Bishop Humphrey] became duly elected for translation to the See of Lagos,” Bishop David said.
“The Primate as the President of the Episcopal Synod statutorily calls for nominations, and after the voting and counting of votes by those responsible, announces the results as submitted by the chief returning officer. Votes are cast, counted and results declared in the full glare of the general house.”
He said it was “uncharitable to attempt to smear the image” of the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, “instead of thanking God for the numerous blessings He has graciously granted His church since the inception of this administration.”
Bishop David continued: “We call on the discerning public, especially all Anglican faithful, to disregard the said malicious publications in their entirety as they are baseless and without any iota of truth. The bishops of the Church of Nigeria remain resolute and united in their determination to uphold godliness and righteousness in their service to God and humanity.
“We also call on our brethren who have fallen into this temptation of seeking to destabilise the church to use this period of Lent to seek God’s face in repentance that He may grant them forgiveness and time for amendment of life.”
The Episcopal Synod also elected the following:
- Bishop Samuel Ezeofor of Ogbaru Diocese to be the next Bishop of Aguata.
- Bishop Akintunde Popoola of Offa to be the next Bishop of Ibadan South.
- Canon Victor Agberam to be Bishop of Northern Izon.
- Dean Stephen Oni to be Bishop of Ondo.
- Archdeacon Cornelius Adagbada to be Bishop of Oke-Ogun.
- Archdeacon Paul Olarewaju Ojo to be Bishop of Ijumu.
- Bishop Godwin Okpala of Nnewi to be Archbishop of the internal Province of the Niger.
- Bishop Gabriel Akinbiyi of Akoko to be Archbishop of the internal Province of Ondo.
- Archbishop Ali Buba Lamido of the internal Province of Kaduna and Bishop of Wusasa, to be Dean of the Church of Nigeria.
Archbishop Nicholas Okoh asked for “the prayers of the Church for these servants of God as they prepare to take their new offices.”