$9.3m scandal: I have no hands in the deal – Oritsejafor

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Oritsejafor and Jonathan

The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, on Monday, said he knew nothing about the controversial $9.3m smuggled into South Africa by two Nigerians and an Israeli, using his private jet.

Oritsejafor broke his silence during the National Executive Council meeting of CAN at the National Christian Centre, Abuja.

The CAN leader regretted that there had been attempts in the media to link him with the incident by mischievous elements, adding that he had kept quiet all the while because he needed to explain his position to the church, which he said, was his primary constituency.

Oritsejafor, in his address, a copy which was emailed to our correspondent in Kaduna, declared that he was never a party to the movement of the $9.3m from Nigeria to South Africa to purchase arms and ammunitions.

He said, “I wish to assure you that I will not do anything to tarnish the image of Jesus Christ or compromise the divine standard of the church.

“As you are all aware, the media has been awashed in the past few days about an unfortunate incident involving the movement of funds from Nigeria to South Africa. In the unfortunate news reports, attempts have been made to link me directly with the transaction.

“So far, I have refrained from making any direct public response pending the time that I would have briefed the leaders of the church and explained my position on the issues to them.

“I believe that the primary institution that I owe any explanation to is the church.”

Oritsejafor added, “At the risk of being seen to be defending myself, I wish to confirm to the distinguished leaders of the church that the Bombardier Challenger 601 aircraft in question is mine. The aircraft was presented to me as a gift by members of our congregation and ministry partners worldwide at my 40th anniversary of my call into the ministry.

“May I be permitted to stress that the aircraft was not given to me by the President of Nigeria, neither was it a settlement for any political favour or patronage.

“With the benefit of hindsight, the President of the country was a guest in our church during the anniversary celebration when the jet was presented to me. This has construed an implication that it was a gift from the President of the country.”

The CAN leader explained further that “the President of Nigeria has nothing to do with the gift of the aircraft. By the way, I still wonder why all those saying this cannot come out to show proof so that the matter can be put to rest once and for all. Let me say that this might be an issue of the court in the near future.”

Oritsejafor, who also explained the circumstances that led to the involvement of his aircraft, said, “In order to ameliorate the cost of maintenance of the aircraft, I sought and got permit to allow the aircraft fly in and out of Nigeria.

“Based on this, I leased the aircraft on August 2, 2014, to a company to run it. It was the leasee 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.

“Inasmuch as I am shocked and distressed by the incident, I wish to appeal to Christians in Nigeria to remember that a war has been waged against the Nigerian church. This war is being fought on many fronts and this unfortunate incident is another dimension in the assault against the church.

“It is clear that those who manipulated this conspiracy desire to create a schism in the church.”

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