The Evangelical Church of Winning All (ECWA) on Thursday, refuted claims that it held hostage 21 Muslims/almajiris and forcefully converted them to Christianity.
A statement signed by the church President, Rev (Dr) Stephen Baba Panya, described the allegation as false, misleading and a deliberate effort to discredit the church and cause a religious crisis.
Reports had emerged on social media that Department of State Security (DSS) agents raided one of ECWA facilities in Jos where 21 Muslims/almajir are held hostage and being forcefully converted to Christianity.
But Rev Panya said the allegations are complete falsehood because the trainees are of all adults with none falling below the age of Eighteen and they are available at any time for government officials to interact with.
“Among numerous ECWA Units is the ECWA Discipleship Unit established under the ECWA Church-Related Ministries Department of the ECWA Headquarters.
The unit, among other activities, trains the less privileged in the society for capacity-building, skill acquisition, Christian ethics and leadership skills with the sole purpose of making them relevant to the society.
Following a report by the JNI in Jos, as we later understood, the DSS visited our facility and accordingly interviewed the occupants who freely disclosed to the security agents that they enrolled on the programme of their own volition and were not forced, except Abdulrahman Hussaini’s brother who opted to leave with his brother Abdulrahaman and were released to the DSS without any excitation.”
He further pointed out that the Hussaini brothers were planted as moles for the purpose of discrediting the good works of the church unit where thousands of trainees have benefited and are now living as responsible members of the society.
“What is more, trainees are given a two-week break six months after their stay in the facility to get back and prepare for the final lap of their training. It is of the moment to note that the Hussani brothers have gone on this break and returned of their own volition.”
He narrated that ECWA, as an organization, has a widespread nationally and internationally and believes in the rule of law and will not involve itself in the infringement of the fundamental rights of any Nigerian to his freedom of religion, movement, or association.
Rev Panya added that apart from the information offered by the church, any other insinuations or accusations on the media space are fabricated lies to dent the good works of ECWA over the past 129 years of its existence.