The government of Zambia has suspended the operations of the Philippine-based powerful Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ), on March 6 following a deadly stampede that left 8 people dead, including a 9-month old baby. The tragic incident also left 28 people injured.
According to the Zambia Daily Mail, the Philippine-based religion was conducting a “Lingap sa Mamamayan” (giving out of free food and relief goods), in Lusaka, capital and largest City of the Southern African country – Zambia.
The authorities estimated that more than 35,000 people attended the relief-giving operation which gone out of control as people rushed to get freebies.
Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs Godfridah Sumaili said in an interview that the church failed to submit operating documents even after being asked to do so on Thursday last week.
She said the church will remain suspended until investigations are concluded by relevant authorities.
Reverend Sumaili said the government was not aware of the outreach programme the Church of Christ had engaged in at the OYDC yesterday.
“I asked them last week on Thursday before the event could take place to bring the certificate of registration, their constitution and their profile but they didn’t bring. We have deaths involved. Therefore, we decided to suspend its operations until investigations are completed,” she said.
What was to be a joyful event turned tragic as thousands of Lusaka residents, including those who had not been registered as beneficiaries, surged forward to get their own share of the windfall.
The Iglesia ni Cristo has been making headlines since its internal scandal broke-out early 2015 when children of former Executive Minister, Bro. Eraño G. Manalo are at feud.
Some people asks why the news was not covered in Philippine media, but some readers on Zambia Daily Mail accused INC management of blocking the news in the Philippines to protect the organization from further humiliation.
There is no information whether the ban has been uplifted or the investigation has been concluded as of press time. /Marigold Marfil/
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