Church declares Governor Adil’s land decree ‘unconstitutional’
The Sudan Pentecostal Church has rejected the land decree issued by Central Equatoria State Governor Emmanuel Adil, describing it ‘unconstitutional’
“This land decree is illegal, heavy-handed, unconstitutional, misguided, ungodly, and disobedient to the law of God and that of our land,” said Bishop Isaiah Majok Dau, the General Overseer of the Sudan Pentecostal Church.
On Tuesday, September 21, 2021, Governor Adil issued a Gubernatorial order for the expropriation of the church plot for ‘General public use’. A move that took the church by surprise.
According to the land Act of 2009, the procedure for expropriation of the land is based on a consultative process with communities or individuals concerned before its conception.
Addressing a press conference in Juba yesterday, Majok said the church is a public entity and it has all the rights and privileges to own land.
The cleric said it was unfortunate that the Governor failed to seek advice and counsel from the very people who are in dispute with the church over the particular land.
The Governor received recommendations from the same people whom the church has defeated in the 1st and the 2nd Court of appeal after waiting for almost 10 years.
“Does the Governor think that this dispute will be resolved by simply issuing a Gubernatorial Order? Why did the church wait for almost 10 years for the court to conclude its ruling?” Mr. Majok questioned.
“We believe strongly that this gubernatorial order is unjust and making a mockery of the judicial system in our country,” he added.
He stressed that as proud citizens they respect all the institutions of the country, saying it was the reason why the church was able to wait for the court to conclude its verdict.
“The administration of the church believes in the court ruling of the first and the second-high court. Using Gubernatorial Order to reverse the court ruling is considered by the church as an act of undermining and interference with people’s rights and freedoms,” the bishop decried.
Vow to fight
“The church will use all available and legal means to make sure its right to own land in the area is respected.”
He said with the help of God and the law of the country, the church will overcome all the challenges, adding that the Church has been owning the land since 1993.
Majok said in 1993, the church applied for a piece of land for its branch church in Hai Malakal when congregants were still praying in Hai Mayo Primary school near the Konyo-Konyo Freedom Square.
“The church finally got all its documents in 1994 since the Arab regime was the one in power and also the church did not have the necessary resources to build the church, it was not possible to construct the church,” he explained.
The clerics said they started the construction of the church on land until 2009 when it was demolished by the State Ministry of Physical Infrastructure though the church building was not on the list of buildings to be demolished.
The bishop said the church sued the ministry in the court of law in 2009 and took them 10 years to get justice.
After a few years of waiting and raising funds for the construction of the church, the leadership started the construction on September 10, 2021, by digging the foundation of the Southern part of the wall.
The next day a group of young men in El-Etihad uniform came and covered all the 126 meters of foundation that was dug by the church.
The church went and reported the case at Malakia Police Station, on the same day. The church administration went to Police Headquarters in Buluk requesting for police to protect the workers in the church compound.
Majok said when the church resumed the work on September 13, 2021, at around 9:00 pm, a convoy of five Land Cruisers filled with police officers believed to have been ordered by the governor stormed the compound while the seven workers were working.
He added that the forces dismantled the tent and beat up some of the church workers.
He said the next day they received a letter from the Director-General of the State Ministry of Physical Infrastructure ordering the church to stop any activity in the compound.
The bishop said the Mayor of Juba City Council, the Minister of Housing, and the state Governor have turned down the church request to meet them.