Five people are in hospital, two in a serious condition, after clashes between soldiers and protesters at an Anglican church in Nigeria where a synod meeting has been overshadowed by calls for a local bishop to resign over "financial recklessness".
The clashes came after soldiers were called last week to restore order at the St John's churchat Amukpe, in Southern Nigeria's Edo State in the Niger Delta. Protesters had barricaded the church and called on the Bishop of Sapele, Blessing Erifeta to resign.
As the synod began deliberations, protesters waving placards surrounded the church, preventing some delegates from entering and blockading the Bishop and other delegates inside.
The vicar of St John's called for assistance from the authorities, who dispatched a squad of soldiers assigned to protect a nearby oil pipeline to restore order, the anglican.ink website reported.
The soldiers disrupted the siege of the church last weekend and in the process four women and a youth were injured.
The Bishop and other members of the synod adjourned to a nearby school to pray while police cleared the area.
The incident is not the first in which members of the diocese have clashed with the authorities over the Bishop's administration of the diocese. Last July, members of the diocesan Youth League occupied St Luke's Cathedral there shortly before the start of the diocesan synod, locking out the clergy and congregation for several weeks.
In a petition delivered to Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Bishop Erifeta was accused of "financial recklessness, mal-administration, disrespect to elders and embark[ing] on incessant trips abroad with the diocese funds." The diocese denies the allegations. Diocesan secretary Churchill Akure said in a statement last year: "The cathedral has been known for so many bad reports in the past and the bishop did not give them a room to continue in such bad light through regular caution and rebuke. This is what they called insult. They keep resisting correction and are not ready to adjust. I pray God will open their eyes of understanding."