The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in charge of East African Community Olivier Nduhungirehe has spoken out on the deportation of American ‘evangelist’ and media owner Gregg Schoof, saying that it was long overdue because he had disregarded decisions made by courts and institutions in the long running legal battle.
Schoof, who describes himself as a Pastor and was the proprietor of the now closed Amazing Grace Radio, had defied a decision by Rwanda Media Commission (RMC), disregarded directives issued by the regulator, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) and court rulings. He continued to act in defiance of the decisions and court rulings.
On Monday, Schoof was arrested by Rwanda National Police (RNP) on grounds of disturbing public order after he held an illegal gather in Remera near Amahoro National Stadium, after a local bar blocked him from holding his ‘last’ press conference in Rwanda in the facility.
“There was a process -administrative, regulatory and judicial to deal with his issues but he disregarded them and continued to act the way he was, defending the sermon that denigrated women which was aired on his radio,”
“It had become too much. Deportation was the only solution at this point. He went on to break the law, holding an illegal gathering and attempting to incite the masses against government, hiding behind Christianity to make all sorts of allegation,” Nduhungirehe said.
“It was against this background that he was deported last night at around mid-night,” he revealed.
In his statement, Schoof wondered if the Rwandan government was planning to send people to hell, adding that it is time people held their leaders accountable because the government has taken ‘a stand against God with its heathen practices’.
Minister Nduhungirehe said the American had crossed the line and stretched the laws and institutions of the country, hence the decision to deport him back to the U.S.
He said the U.S Embassy will be notified on the deportation of Schoof, who until his deportation still stood by the sermon which was aired on Amazing Grace Radio by a one Pastor Nicholas Niyibikora, which described women as the source of all evil and responsible for the downfall of Kingdoms.
The sermon which was aired on January 29, 2018 angered women and rights group with the women organisation Pro-Femmes Twese Hamwe and the Association of Rwandese Female Journalists (ARFEM) filing a complaint on February 6, 2018 at Rwanda Media Commission (RMC), stating that the content of the talk show by the self-appointed Pastor Niyibikora was defamatory.
The RMC Ethics Committee in a public hearing of February 12, 2018 noted that Mr. Schoof had admitted that the reasons for the mistakes made were due to the fact that he didn’t have a programs manager who was supposed to ensure that all content is aired in accordance to the requirements of the code of ethics and standards of the media.
RMC has spoken out on the development in a statement issued by the RMC Chairman Cleophas Barore, indicating that it was against that background that the ethics committee decided to suspend his operations for three months to rectify the existing gaps in his radio station.
“The radio was also requested to apologize to the public especially to women within 48 hours effective from the hearing date which he avoided willingly,” Barore said, urging the public to disregard the allegations being spread by controversial American and contact RMC for facts on the issue.
In the statement, Schoof claimed that Niyibikora ‘was an innocent’ man, and that RMC and RURA attacked him, his radio station and church. Despite the infuriating sermon which made rounds on social media, Schoof said Niyibikora remains innocent because he has not been found guilty by a competent court.
RMC said that between 2014 and 2016, there had been several complaints filed against Amazing Grace Radio station over controversial content aired on the station, which violated constitutional rights and ethical principles of the media. The station had been warned several times for airing inciting content.
In his statement, Schoof claimed that he was leaving behind the cases and move to Uganda where he would continue his work. The Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration had not approved his work permit renewal request.
Upon arrest on Monday, he was handed over to Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) but later he was deported by Immigration after he was declared “prohibited immigrant”.
Minister Nduhungirehe said that a country retains the right to deport anybody found unwanted on its territory and the right to bar that person from ever returning to the country, unless the restrictions are lifted.
As it is now, Schoof is unlikely never to return to Rwanda but according to officials, his lawyers or representatives have a right to follow up on his properties and cases if any.