Oritsejafor: In the battlefront for Christianity

By Emma Maduabuchi on 03/10/2014

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Oritsejafor: in the battle-line for his faith

Oritsejafor: In the battlefront for Christianity

 

Sometimes, people become newsmakers because of the things they do or say. At other times, they make the news because of things they failed to do, or failed to say. Yet in some other cases, some people are made prominent in the news, not as a result of any of the reasons above, but perhaps because other people want to use their popularity for other motives.

For some time now, Ayo Oritsejafor, President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has been very much in the news, but it has not been easy to decipher the real reasons behind his prominence in the media. It has equally been difficult trying to determine whether he was being unjustly accused, or whether individuals want to use a recent controversy surrounding his private jet to gain one advantage or the other.

Currently, he became prominent in the news following the incidents of Friday, September 5, 2014, the day his private jet was apprehended at Lanseria Airport in South Africa, with three men on board (two Nigerians and one Israeli). The men were said to have illegally smuggled the sum of $9. 3 Million into the Southern African country. The money, it was reported, was meant to be used for the purchase of arms and ammunitions in the Nelson Mandela country.

Though the jet, which was registered in the United States of America (USA) with registration number N 808HG truly belonged to Oritsejafor, as he confessed, he denied having anything to do with the alleged smuggled-money, or the arms-purchase expedition. In fact, explaining his position on the matter, he said the plane was under lease to a private company, and that as such, he did not have any business with its day to day movement.

Few people believed him, just as many insults and accusations at him, arguing that he had not conducted himself well, both as a citizen and as a Christian leader. In the social and traditional media, criticisms against him went haywire. Even his fellow Christian leaders did not spare him.

A good example of some of the criticisms came from Monday Ubani, former Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch, who expressed suspicion with Oritsejafor’s explanation. “How come it is government that is leasing its own plane?’ he queried ‘Of all the jets they have in this country, it is only Oritsejafor’s jet that is available to be leased.  That explanation to me is unbelievable.” He called for “a thorough” investigation, insisting that somebody must be held liable.

Festus Keyamo, another Lagos-based lawyer described the explanation, both from the government and from Oritsejafor himself, as “cock and bull story”.

Femi Falana, for President of West African Bar Association (WABA), sought to be informed whether the pastor, as a private person, had the right to rent out his private jet on lease in the first instance. Then he threw a challenge to some groups of Christian leaders in the country: “I challenge pastors who have diverted funds to fund varsities at the detriment of the children of their congregation who can’t afford the tuition fees, that is an illegality.”

Among Christian leaders that took several potshots at him, was Olubunmi Okojie, a former CAN President and a retired Catholic Archbishop. He declared that he (Oritsejafor) had fallen from “grace to grass”. Okojie went on to criticise Oritsejafor for hobnobbing with men in government and as such bringing the name of Christ and Christianity to disrepute.

He went as far as questioning the CAN President’s rationale for owning a private jet, when the money used in purchasing and maintaining the plane could be used to cater for a great number of the poor and needy. He also questioned his calling, even going to the extent of declaring that Oritsejafor was not chosen by God.

Part of his statements read: “What is the man (Oritsejafor) looking for? If you call yourself a man of God, then you should rely on God. Why should he be jumping up and down? But because he was not elected, not chosen by God, that is what is happening.”

Yet, for a long time, he remained silent about the whole issue. He neither replied to his critic’s abuses and disparagements, nor tried to explain further on any of the angle from which he was criticised or attacked.

Oritsejafor, a widely travel preacher, and a tele-evangelist is the founder of Word of Life Bible Church (WLBC), based in Warri, in Delta State. he was converted in 1992, after which he grew under the tutelage of late Bishop Idoahosa. He started his WLBC, he has been preaching since then. He became the CAN President in 20110.

Now, few days ago, Oritsejafor broke his silence, and in the statement credited to him, still denied knowing anything about the $9. 3million found in the plane, or the arms-purchase expedition to South Africa. He was however careful to inform his fellow Christians that a war was being waged against Christianity in the country, and the attacks on him were part of that war. “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,” he said.

He said the reason why he had remained taciturn on the issue was because he wanted to speak first to his constituency, the Christian leadership in the country about what really transpired before he could make any public statement regarding it.

Perhaps when he first made himself available for the Presidency of CAN), he might not have reckoned that what he describes today as war against Christianity, which the body he heads in Nigeria, would not be as tough as it has proven to be.

Bu perhaps, what many people may find difficult to fathom, as regarding the war against Christianity, was the fact that even Christian leaders also criticise him. As a matter of fact, on Thursday, January 24, Catholic Church said it was pulling out of the Christian body because it was getting too close to government.

Later Catholic Bishops, speaking through Monsignor Christopher Ajala said the body’s position was misconstrued. It explained that what the Catholic Church in Nigeria did was suspend its activities in CAN for some time.

But if that was meant to be damage control, it appeared to have come late because CAN leadership had almost immediately replied it. Speaking on behalf of CAN in the 19 Northern states, the Public Relation Officer, Sunny Oibe said the Catholic block pulled out of the body because it the Presidency to Oritsejafor, a Pentecostal pastor. He went on to say that some elements in the Christian body were being manipulated by Cardinal John Onaiyekan, just to cause confusion in the body, because he lost the Presidency to the incumbent.

Part of his words read: “There is no need for anybody to lose sleep over the threat by Catholics to pull out of CAN because without them CAN will still continue. The constitution of CAN makes provision that membership can be terminated by any group that is misbehaving or any group can also terminate their membership.

“Why is it that when Catholics were in the leadership of CAN, every bloc supported them, but now because power has changed hands, they are threatening to pull out and causing confusion?” he queried.

When Factnewsonline approached Pastor Jerry Chigue of Foursquare Gospel Church in FESTAC town, he said he would have declined responding to question put to him, because the whole thing smacked of politics. However, he decided to put in some words because, according to him, that would be part of his service to the community and society at large.

He advised Christian leaders who have joined in the attacks against Oritsejafor to desist because, first it was not in their place to do so; and secondly it was unjust to do so. “Why should Okojie be criticising him’ he queried ‘is it because his name is Oritsejafor? If it was an Archbishop from the Vatican will he be criticising him that way? Will he criticise the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury that way? He is in retirement; let him enjoy his retirement instead of seeking to divide Christians in a critical time like now”

He wondered why they have not mounted a campaign to have those apprehended to be tried speedily, instead of busying themselves chasing somebody who no evidence has connected him to the incident apart from the fact that his plane (which was on lease) was used for the escapade.

 

Source Emma Maduabuchi

Posted on October, 3 2014

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