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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Opinion: CAN, Ayo Oritsejafor, And The Limit Of Ungodliness

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by Adeolu Ademoyo

This is a letter to my Nigerian Christian Compatriots.

Dear Fellow Nigerian Christians,

I have decided to write to you today as a Christian and as a Nigerian. I will also like to put it on record that I am a Catholic.

I write to you on the recent activities of the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria-Mr. Ayo Oritsejafor. As you know, Mr. Oritsejafor is a pastor, a businessman with varied economic, commercial, business   interests who is also deeply invested in partisan politics on behalf of PDP and President Goodluck Jonathan.

Currently, one of his companies-Eagle Air Company- is involved in an unlawful and shady deal in South Africa the substance of which still remains a mystery waiting to be resolved. And this is the source of my concern, worry and public letter to you.

On September 5, 2014 two Nigerians and an Israeli citizen were caught in Lanseria International Airport Johannesburg airport trying to illegally move $9.3m into South Africa. They flew into Johannesburg in a private jet owned by Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and operated by his company-Eagle Air Company. It is curious that the Nigerian and South African authorities are yet to disclose the names of these two Nigerians. But they have quickly disclosed the name of the Israeli. The Israeli is Mr. Eyal Mesika

Here is the mystery. It is a basic aviation law that all travelers must disclose the amount of foreign currency on them if it is above a particular amount as stated in the country’s laws. Under South African law, the maximum you can bring into South Africa without disclosing it to aviation authority at point of entry is $2,300. Mr. Eyal Mesika, the Israeli and his yet to be named two Nigerian collaborators flew into South Africa in a private jet owned by CAN President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor with $9.3million.

They did not disclose this amount to the South African aviation authorities until they were caught. Under interrogation they disclosed that they were in South Africa to buy arms for the Nigerian government. The Nigerian government of President Jonathan has hurried in to add its weight to this claim.

Fellow Christians, but some questions remain. These questions if un-answered will forever tar the CAN President-Ayo Oritsejafor and by extension CAN itself and will bring CAN into a state of permanent disrepute under the leadership of Ayo Oritsejafor until he leaves. This is because when a President of an association speaks he/she speaks on behalf of the association. The moral face –or otherwise-of a president of an association is taken to be the public moral face of the association he/she speaks for.

Therefore the questions that bother me concern Christian ethics about truth and whether Ayo Oritsejafor CAN president and CAN leadership uphold (on this issue) basic Christian ethics we teach our children in bible classes on Sundays during mass, worship sessions and in preparation for Christian baptism and confirmation. In the church we hold and/ or ought to hold this basic Christian ethics as part of the foundation of our faith and secular lives.

One of my questions is: Is the private jet Bombardier Challenger 600 Registration No 8o8HG owned by Mr. Ayo Oritsejafor and his company the same plane Pastor Oritsejafor claimed an anonymous member of his church donated to him in 2012?

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, I am shakened, deeply worried and ethically troubled   by this. Please read Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor in November 2012 on the mystery, which surrounded a plane he said, was donated to him anonymously by church members. On this the Pastor (Ayo Oritsejafor) and man of God said:

“I’m not ashamed to own a plane, I think it is a necessity and not a luxury for some of us deeply involved in the work of God to own planes,” the pastor said. The Pastor said he did not know the church members who donated the jet, saying all he knew was that some members constituted a committee for the purpose and that his wife worked closely with the committee. He said members of the congregation decided to donate the jet after they became aware of the suffering he underwent whenever he travelled in and out of Nigeria preaching the gospel.

These are the Pastor’s words verbatim: “They (church members, the faithful) feel the pain I go through and they feel painful for not seeing me most of the time,” Mr. Oritsejafor explained. “They don’t like it, they are troubled. I know some people buy planes, I can’t buy plane. I can’t afford it. I don’t have that kind of money, (my emphasis) I still don’t know the people that bought this plane, but I know that there is a committee.”

The Pastor continued “Sometimes, my schedule is so complicated. Now, with this plane, it changes everything about my movements. Now, I can move, I can even go and come back home. It is a bit more convenient for me and I suspect that this is one of the reasons a lot of these other preachers have planes.”

Dear Christians, though this is painful as a Christian, because it concerns truth saying as part of Christian ethics, but I shall ignore the fact that Pastor Oritsejafor used his mouth to say that his wife worked with the committee members that anonymously donated the plane (which means the Pastor’s wife knew these committee members) but that he (Ayo Oritsejafor) did not know the committee members.

So? Sisters and brothers in Christ, Is the plane owned by Pastor Oritsejafor that was caught conducting illegal business in South Africa the same plane the Pastor said was donated to him anonymously to carry out his Christian ministry duties? If so, is flying $9.3million dollars to South Africa to allegedly buy arms a Christian missionary Godly duty the anonymous church members who donated the plane asked Pastor Oritsejafor to use it for? Is doing this covertly- because according Femi Fanikayode’s defense “we are in war situation” – carrying out God’s work on earth?

If it is not the same plane, does it mean that the Pastor has other planes other than the one he said church members donated to him anonymously? If so, does it mean Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor lied or forgot to say the whole truth when he said he did not have money to buy plane as quoted in his statement above? These questions bother me as a Christian because if Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor failed to properly explain these inconsistencies, it means he lied and this is a major violation of our Christian ethics. Hence, I am bothered deeply. Given Ayo Oritsejafor’s questionable ethics, I no longer know again how to stand before my children at home and talk Christian faith and ethics.

To have someone like Ayo Oritsejafor who shows up more as a business man and a politician than a Pastor and who does not hide his unchristian and un-religious partisanship on behalf of PDP and President Jonathan 2015 campaign does not help Nigeria. It does not help Christians. It does not help truth. It does not help   Christian ethics on which our faith stands.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ the government of President Jonathan has a history of dealing in a shadowy manner with modern day Israeli government, Israeli companies and Israeli citizens. In this shady and shadowy relationships President Jonathan and his fellow travelers deliberately mix up and muddle for effect (to confuse Nigerian Christians) the biblical Israel with the modern political state of Israel. The bad thing which ought to be unacceptable to any self respecting Nigerian Christian is that Ayo Oritsejafor brings CAN’s image into this shadowy and shady deals. It is not good. It is un-christian. It is un-Godly.

In this shadowy and shady deals, there are numerous examples out of which I will cite one. There was the case of the Israeli Internet security company-ELBIT Security System. It is not a coincidence that President Jonathan’ government deviously and covertly contracted ELBIT for espionage purposes in Nigeria –a contract which is unknown to any Nigerian law.

More importantly Nigerians did not know of this contract with this Israeli company until it was made public by a news paper-Premiumtimes. Also, there are two conflicting figures as to the cost of the contract, which allows public money to be stolen and privatized by all those involved.

Till today the mystery around ELBIT Internet Security systems and money paid to it remains a mystery that has been swept under the carpet. It is therefore not surprising that another Israeli citizen is involved with two Nigerians in another shadowy deal to allegedly buy arms in South Africa while using the plane owned by the CAN president-Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor.

Dear fellow Christians, of course CAN and other Nigerians such as Femi Fanikayode, have come out to defend Ayo Oritsejafor .

Femi Fanikayode wrote that the covert manner of using private jets to ferry cash in war situation to buy arms is normal. Femi Fanikayode’s defense follows Nigerian government’s jerky narrative on this immoral and dubious act. Femi’s analogy is a hopeless self-serving analogy that cannot stand the test of the actual situation of war. To try to explain-after the fact- a straightforward fraud, criminality and illegality in which the business company of the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Ayo Oritsejafor found itself as a covert operation in war situation is disingenuous and it deepens the fraud.

But more importantly Femi Fanikayode claimed to be speaking as a former minister of aviation and admitted that “Perhaps the only failing (in the $9.3million case) was the fact that the cash was not declared to South African Customs as is required by law.” The question is : Why was it not disclosed? Femi Fanikayode is claiming a patent criminality, fraud, illegality, violation of another country’s laws by Pastor Oritsejafor’s company in conjunction with the federal republic of Nigeria as “perhaps the only failing…”

Fellow Christians, if this is what Christian ethics is, if this is the way we as Christians will spin basic fraud to save the face of fellow Christian then we need to begin to examine the basis of our faith and how we practice it. If Femi Fanikayode is making this dubious defense then I have the following questions for him: Did he do the same thing when he was aviation minister? Did he use jets to ferry cash out of our country illegally and fraudulently? Could this be the basis of the money laundering charges against him by the EFCC? Pastors Femi Fanikayode and Ayo Oristejafor, is this Christian ethics?

Also, CAN came out in a shocking press statement by one Sunny Oibe   to absolve the CAN president. Sunny Oibe wrote under the office “Director of National Issues”(CAN). See Premiumtimes September 16, 2014. But how can CAN absolve CAN’s president when CAN’s president and his company are questionable parties to this can of worms? Sunny Oibe’s press statement absolving CAN’s president is an embarrassment to Nigerian Christians and our faith.

In a most brazen manner betraying Ayo Oristejafor’s use of CAN’s platform as a partisan tool on behalf of PDP and President Jonathan 2015 campaign Sunny Oibe rather than face their un-Godly, illegal and un-ethical practice,  called APC one of Nigeria’s national parties an “Islamic party”!

Of course, Sunny Oibe and Ayo Oritsejafor have rights to their political views. But it is unchristian, immoral and shameful to have used the platform of CAN for an open partisan purpose the way Ayo Oritsejafor and Sunny Oibe have done in that unfortunate statement. The way CAN is being used as a religious arm of PDP and President Jonathan’s 2015 campaign is morally shocking. It stinks

It is un-Christian for Ayo Oritsejafor to use CAN as a platform to disseminate his personal political choice. It is divisive. Our God is a God of unity. Therefore, Mr. Ayo Oritsejafor’s usage of CAN to advance the political fortunes of PDP and President Jonathan is un-Godly. And Nigerian Christians has the moral and religious obligation to respond to this and stop this continuous moral wreckage of our faith under Ayo Oritsejafor and as being burnished by people like Femi Fanikayode.

With the extreme partisanship which Ayo Oritsejafor has displayed, and given his company’s involvement in shady business deals including his being economical with the truth about ownership of planes, the only honorable path for him is to resign from CAN and save the public moral face of Christian faith in Nigeria from further embarrassment.

Beside having brought the image of CAN to disrepute through the yet to be explained mystery surrounding the illegal export of $9.3million to South Africa, the letter written on his behalf by Sunny Oibe absolving him is sufficient ground for his resignation. CAN has no business calling any party Christian or Islamic.

I leave this and Ayo Oritsejafor to our Christian consciences.

Yours in defense of our Christian faith.

Adeolu Ademoyo

Adeolu Ademoyo, [email protected] of the Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY is a member of the editorial board of Premium Times.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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