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End Of Road For Christian Association Of Nigeria? Court Stops CAN Election, Catholic Considers Membership Withdrawal

Jun 13, 2016

By Our Reporter
imageAbuja (Nigeria) — A news report by Sahara Reporters in May 2016 alleged that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor was using every means within his power to frustrate the candidature of Rev. Jeremiah Gado, the President of Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), and ensure he does not contest as President in the forthcoming National CAN election.

This is despite the fact that he was nominated by his bloc through casting of vote, where he defeated Rev. Jerry Madibo with 15 votes to 7 on 29th of March 2016 in Jos, central Nigeria.

Sahara Reporters had gone ahead to publish letters that showed clearly Rev. Gado was duly nominated by his constituency, TEKAN/ECWA bloc, to contest as candidate on behalf of the bloc.

Today, more facts are emerging, revealing that Pastor Oritsejafor was not only interested in ensuring Rev. Gado did not contest, but as well, ensuring that due process was not followed.

AFRICAPRIMENEWS gathered that Oritsejafor has already perfected plans to ensure that majority of the NEC members who are voters, were also denied the opportunity to cast their votes.

A letter written by one of them, Rev. Divine Eches, the Youth Leader of TEKAN/ECWA bloc, sent to security agencies and Federal Government of Nigeria has indicated that Oritsejafor has planned to use his personal aides, thugs and security agents to ensure that his plans are executed.

Oritsejafor had used a similar tactics during the inauguration of the Electoral College, where some of the College members were denied entry into the hall, to ensure his wishes were followed.

Already, aggrieved Rev. Gado had taken the matter to the courts, seeking the enforcement of his fundamental right to contest as enshrined in the CAN constitution, and already an Abuja High Court had issued an injunction, placing the National CAN election on hold – but on getting information, the CAN General Secretary, Rev. Musa Asake decided to shutdown the CAN secretariat from Thursday afternoon through Friday, ensuring that no staff of the office received the served injunction – the workers had to stay at home for no clear reasons.

Rev. Asake is also spreading the news that his life is under threat, but it is not clear who is threatening his life – whether it is Gado’s camp, whom the national CAN leadership is forestalling his candidature, or from Oritsejafor, who is asking him (Asake) to play a script. As at the time of this report, efforts by our reporter to get Rev. Asake on phone did not work, as calls to his phone were not going through.

Barr. Wakili Kadima, a TEKAN/ECWA delegate to the NEC meeting told our reporter that the Association’s constitution had given the head of every denomination the right to contest.

“Even if Oritsejafor and co. are denying Rev. Gado the opportunity to contest on the platform of TEKAN/ECWA, they should know that he has the right to contest by the virtue of being ECWA President.

“They should allow Rev. Gado to loose through a fair election and process. But what they did was to refuse to forward his nomination to the electoral college – a constitutional body established to accept nominations and screen candidates. Let the electoral college function independently” he said.

Speaking on why going to court, he said “Reve. Gado is asking the court to ensure that the right thing is done as enshrined in the CAN constitution. Oritsejafor and his clique are violating the provisions of the constitution, but things must be done in the right way.” He said

The Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), a bloc in CAN has written Oritsejafor and copied the other four blocs, demanding the suspension of the conduct of the election bill for 14th & 15th June, until such a time when leadership of the five blocs of CAN meet to chart a new course for the Association.

Content of the letter says “The CSN has on various occasions appealed to the Leadership of CAN to do all it could to ensure that the noble ideals of the Association be not only recovered but also promoted. Unfortunately, these appeals have so far been unheeded.

“This situation of things constrained the CSN to suspend active participation in the affairs of CAN, with a request that sincere efforts be made to improve on the situation.

“The way and manner in which the electoral process of CAN has been handled does not show any willingness of the Leadership to do things in a way worthy of the Association. We can no longer go along with the way things are now.”

A group known as Arewa Pastors Forum, comprising of pastors from northern Nigeria has also met in Abuja and demanded the indefinite suspension of the election “pending the resolution of the controversies and contending issues”.

In a communique, signed by its National Leader, Rev. Mbayor Japhet, the group advised National CAN leadership to runaway from destroying the Association and save it from disunity, especially with “the decision of our brothers and sisters in the north to pull out of the body to set up a parallel Christian body that will listen to their plight and give them a voice, a situation that will pitch our brothers and sisters in the north against their southern brethren.” The communique says.

“From all indications, Pastor Oritsejafor is not moved by these threats – he is bent on ensuring that his preferred candidate, Prof. Joseph Otubu, from the Organisation of African Instituted Churches (OAIC) succeeds him.” says a source in CAN secretariat.

By the constitution of CAN, only the TEKAN/ECWA bloc and the OAIC can present candidates for the post of the president in the coming election. This is based on the rule of rotation among the five blocs, and so far only these two have not held that office.

Oritsejafor had in many fora denied having a candidate in the election, but an investigation by The Nation newspapers, published in May 2016 has revealed otherwise. “No wonder, an election which has always been outside of public purview, has attracted so much attention and drawn church leaders against themselves.” Says the paper.

The newspaper added that the President of National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF), Solomon Asemota, in a document titled, Next President of CAN, said the forum, which was created by Oritsejafor, “should give advice by way of guidance to help in the selection of a qualified, suitable and respectable President of CAN.”

Asemota asked members of the forum in the private document: “In the circumstance, would it be safe for the NCEF to be neutral so that a perceived Islamist or their proxy, sympathiser or agent becomes the President of CAN?” It is believed Oritsejafor is out for a successor that will protect his legacies and prevent possible backlashes from unintended mistakes.

Another dimension added to the game is the interest of Rev. Samson Olasupo Adeniyi Ayokunle, head of the Baptist Convention, from the Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN) bloc, to contest for the same office in the coming election, knowing fully well that Rev. Peter Akinola of Anglican Church, from the same bloc, had served as CAN President from November 2003 to June 2007.

People like Pastor Musa Dikwa believe that Oritsejafor is only interested in a successor from his clique, someone that will cover his corrupt track record and not probe how he squandered CAN’s money without recourse to due process.

Pastor Dikwa had once alleged that Oritsejafor and other christian leaders collected vehicles in addition to 7 billion Naira to help campaign for Jonathan in the 2015 elections.

“This is something he is also running away from. He doesn’t want the federal government to probe the campaign money when he steps down – that is why he is crying that Buhari wants to install a northern candidate.

“He knows that Rev. Gado is an upright person who will not play dirty game like him, and will not condone evil.

“If he doesn’t want to be probed, why did he collect the campaign money?”

The source at the CAN secretariat told AFRICAPRIMENEWS that “these people are not men of God, they are only using God’s name to enrich themselves.”

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