Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has been quiet in recent months even the face of intense social media criticism over his closeness to President Goodluck Jonathan.
Just last week, Prof. Itse Sagay who heads President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption advisory committee said that Oritsejafor doesn’t have a case to answer. In a surprise move, Sagay more or less exonerated the respected cleric of wrongdoing in the matter of cash movement for arms purchases in which his private jet was hired for a trip to South Africa.
Sagay has been a fierce critic of the Goodluck Jonathan administration and its officials. Last week, he endorsed the executive recklessness of Buhari’s government saying that the president had a right to disobey court orders if he felt they were against his personal beliefs and for “national interest”.
Oritsejafor, speaking with The Punch, dismissed his critics as shameless individuals who needed deliverance. He said that people aren’t in the habit of talking about the good things he has done so he has decided to stop listening to “shameless detractors.”
Oritsejafor said that he left N600 million in the coffers of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and almost completed a secretariat for the association, while he served as president. He also said he purchased a land and built a 4-star hotel for the Christian Association of Nigeria.
“My critics are faceless, shameless and they need deliverance. By the grace of God, I have made myself available to do the will of God and not to listen to shameless detractors,” the CAN President who is serving his 2nd term said.
The $9.3 Million Cash Seized in South Africa
In 2014, $9.3 million cash was found on a private jet flying into South Africa. On board the plane which was found to be registered to Oritsejafor where two Nigerians and an Israeli. It was later revealed that the cash was legitimate funds meant for the purchase of arms for the war against Boko Haram.
The South African government seized the cash at the time because its movement was in breach of the country’s money laundering laws. However, after diplomatic engagement by the Nigerian government, South Africa released the seized cash to the Nigerian government.
That episode revealed the efforts being made by the Goodluck Jonathan administration to procure arms and ammunition to wage the war against terrorism.
Oritsejafor had accepted being the owner of the private jet, but he said he had nothing to do with the transaction or the trip. The respected cleric had shown proof that he has leased out the plane to a company who was running a private jet hire service.
“I leased the aircraft on August 2, 2014 to a company to run it. It was the company that entered into an agreement with the people who carried out the transfer of funds. Having leased the aircraft to the Green Coast Produce Company Limited, any transaction undertaken with the aircraft can no longer be attached to me,” Oritsejafor told the press.
In 2014, when the story hit the media, online supporters of the APC were the fiercest critics of Pastor Oritsejafor, with some calling for his arrest and resignation as the president of CAN. Current governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El Rufai was in the forefront of the social media campaign against the Christian cleric.