The Words of the Kiely Family
A number of people have expressed concern about whether Unification Church members and leaders have been supporting Global Peace Festival activities in Nigeria. They apparently have this impression because until a week ago the person organizing the GPF in Nigeria, John Oko, listed the Peace Embassy address in Abuja as its secretariat and contact address and had his headquarters in the building. I just returned from Nigeria this week and would like to allay any concerns about our church leadership in relation to GPF. In brief, because of True Father's clear and repeated directions for members not to be involved in GPF activities and not to allow church or UPF facilities to be used for them, we do not support GPF in any way whatsoever and strongly encourage our members to avoid participating in GPF activities.
John has been using an office in the Peace Embassy, that he had been assigned for other purposes several years ago, as a base of operations for GPF. Our leadership has asked him repeatedly to vacate the premises since early this year. The African sub-regional director in Benin, Rev. Paterne Zinzou, gave him the same direction in writing in April as did the Regional/Continental leader in Kenya, Rev. Hee Sun Ji, last month. These are in addition to clear guidance in a September 9 memo from UPF International in New York about avoiding GPF activities in any UPF facility. The memo also urged UPF volunteers and Ambassadors for Peace not to participate in such activities.
Despite these multiple directions, John refused to vacate the Peace Embassy for at least nine months. I came from New York last month to plead with him in tears to follow True Father's directions and stop his GPF work, or at the very least to remove it from the Peace Embassy.
John refused and threatened to fight us if we tried to remove him. "Do you want to turn this Peace Embassy into a war embassy?" he asked us. Because of his attitude and in order to avoid any physical confrontation with John or his people, we reluctantly sought legal and police help two weeks ago.
A few days later, I visited John's office in a last-ditch effort to have him leave peacefully. At that meeting John immediately began to threaten me personally, so I took out a pocket camera to record our encounter. Despite the video recording, John continued to threaten and accuse me and other Unification Church leaders, pointing his finger and shouting at me repeatedly. I never raised my voice with John, nor did I accuse or judge him in any way. I simply asked calmly and politely that he stop his GPF activities at the Peace Embassy. This is all on the video. Gradually other people became involved in the increasingly noisy exchange. Because of the din, someone outside the office called the police.
By the time they arrived, John had ended our encounter and walked out of his office. "I have more important things to do than to talk with you," he told me as he left.
When the police arrived and saw the video, one inspector observed, "He is not a nice person." The police then asked John's staff to call him and invite him to the police station. He went there some four hours later at the end of the day, and they held him in a cell overnight pending a hearing in the morning. Our national leader, Rev. Ola Alao, tried hard to have him released on his own recognizance to no avail. We never intended that John spend any time in a jail cell; our only purpose was to have him take his GPF operation out of the Peace Embassy. But John's own actions recorded on video were apparently the reason the police decided to keep him overnight and refused to release him.
At the hearing the next morning, John brought three lawyers, his brother Raphael, and others to testify. We had no lawyers. Rev. Alao and I simply expressed our concern that John remove his activities from the Peace Embassy, spoke of his refusal to leave despite numerous requests from UPF leaders, and then presented the video. John and others in his party spoke at length, claiming among many other things that GPF was still a part of UPF, that he was thus justified in keeping his office at the Peace Embassy and that what was happening was just bad blood between two brothers in True Family.
He made this last point repeatedly. We were deeply saddened that he resorted to presenting True Family so negatively to the police. After listening to John and his party exhaustively, the hearing officer finally cut them off and said simply that, in his opinion, John should vacate the premises immediately. John's lawyers intervened and, after some wrangling, obtained a stay of one week to allow sufficient time for the move. The police warned John sternly not to misbehave during that period.
A week later, under police supervision, John did remove his office from the Peace Embassy. At long last we can report that GPF activities have now been removed from the Nigerian UPF Peace Embassy!
I think it is important to emphasize that we have made a substantial effort to embrace John despite his complete refusal to cooperate with directions from us and from above. I have personally never judged or accused John and have expressed our concerns about his activities with as much compassion as possible while nonetheless being firm about the need for him to remove his operation from our headquarters. Unfortunately, John and his brother have both expressed considerable animosity towards me and toward Rev. Alao, both in person and online. Their continual criticism and accusation -- and more recently, threats -- seem consistent with what we have seen online from other GPF organizers.
This, frankly, does not feel like peace.
Abel NM Nigeria