The embattled leader of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, yesterday met with members of the group’s national executive committee to step up damage control measures after a private jet that belongs to Mr. Oritsejafor was used to smuggle cash of $9.3 million into South Africa, which was meant for a questionable purchase of arms and ammunition.
The embattled CAN leader presided over yesterday’s meeting, held at the National Christian Center, in Abuja. A source at the meeting said the atmosphere was often contentious as some leaders of CAN’s state chapters in attendance expressed skepticism over their national leader’s explanation of the whole weapons-running affair. Mr. Oritsejafor has faced growing criticism from people who wonder how and why the CAN president’s private jet ended up being involved in an operation a cash-for-weapons scheme.
During the meeting and in a prepared statement sent to media houses Pastor Oritsejafor, a close confidant of President Goodluck Jonathan, spoke defiantly and denied any involvement in smuggling cash to South Africa for illicit arms purchase.
He admitted full ownership of the jet, a confession he initially avoided, claiming he was only a fractional owner of the company that owns the jet.
In addition to denying responsibility for the smuggled cash and the arms purchase deal, the CAN leader accused some elements bent on dividing Nigerian Christians of fanning the embers of the controversy. (Sahara Reporters)
“It is clear that those who manipulated this conspiracy desire to create a schism in the church,” Mr. Oritsejafor said, adding that “the media hype and the deliberate distortion of information that followed it confirmed that forces that desperately desire to cause division and disunity in the church are at work. Even the devil knows that a house that is divided cannot stand.”
Some participants at the executive meeting, who spoke to SaharaReporters, said CAN’s embattled national president tried to “explain his side of the issue and to mobilize us to support him,” but added “many participants were tactful in their contributions.”
The other participant disclosed that the meeting resolved that there was a need for thorough investigation to ascertain all the facts regarding the cash found in Mr. Oritsejafor’s jet.