Revelations that worshippers at the headquarters of Christ Embassy Church in Lagos had to pay N1,000 each as gate fee to attend a New Year’s Eve service presided over by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome have shocked many Nigerians and infuriated others.
Worshippers who wanted to attend the crossover service at Christ Embassy’s headquarters on Billings Way in Oregun Area of Lagos on 31 December, 2014, were made to obtain gate passes that sold for N1,000 each. Those who could not afford such passes were turned back and told that they could go elsewhere to worship or watch the service online for free.
According to PMNews, many people described it then as extortion, abuse of ‘Jesus’ teachings and another confirmation that some Nigerian churches and pastors are more interested in making money than winning souls for God.
But the church explained, though informally, that it was a way of controlling the crowd and discouraging thousands of people who come to church once a year on 31 December and prevent “real worshippers” from securing seats at the headquarters on that important night.
The argument did not win many fans and under a barrage of criticisms, the church prayed the matter would be forgotten. Nigerians also hoped gate fee collection would stop. But the practice has continued and is now seen as routine with those who cannot afford the money being turned back on 31 December of every year.