by S’ola Filani
The president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oristejafor, yesterday broke his silence over the controversial $9.3 million seized by South African authorities in his private jet.
The South African authorities, it would be recalled, seized $9.3 million from two Nigerians and an Israeli national who flew into the country with a jet belonging to Oritsejafor.
The CAN boss who spoke at an emergency meeting of the expanded National Executive Council, NEC, of CAN in Abuja said, “I will not do anything to tarnish the image of Jesus Christ.”
He explained that he leased the jet in “order to ameliorate the cost of maintenance of the aircraft.”
“So far, I have refrained from making any direct public response pending the time I will brief the leaders of the church and explain my position on the issue to them. I believe that the primary institution that I owe any explanation to is the church. I thank everyone who has stood by me these past days even though I have not undertaken any public defence of myself.
I am particularly appreciative of the valuable support of the Catholic Church in refuting a distorted news item by mischievous elements in the media. I wish to also assure you that I will not do anything to tarnish the image of God.
I wish to confirm to the leaders of the church that the Bombardier Challenger 601 aircraft in question is mine and it was presented to me as a gift by members of our congregation and ministry partners worldwide at the 40th anniversary of my call into the ministry. The aircraft was not given to me by the president of Nigeria, neither was it a settlement for any political favour or patronage.
Permit me therefore to state clearly before God and before all of you here present today that I am not a party to the movement of $9.3 million from Nigeria to South Africa to purchase arms and ammunitions. I am not part of the deal. I know nothing about it. 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 and it was based on this that I leased the aircraft on August 2, 2014 to a company to run it.
It was the lessee 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. It is clear that those who manipulated this conspiracy desire to create schism in the church.”
Pastor Ayo Oristejafor appealed to Christian leaders to caution their followers from making public statements that are capable of polarising the church and strengthening its enemies. Oritsejafor also urged Christians to remember that a war has been waged against the Nigerian church.
“It is clear 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. As Christians, we need unity in the church now more than ever. We are witnessing inhuman attacks by religious extremists against Christians in the northern part of the country while Christian infrastructure is being destroyed in hundreds. If we permit the enemy to divide us, our chances of corporate survival shall be severely threatened.” he said.