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Thursday, 13 November 2014

Sounds like the Pastor Robert Kayanja Wine Smuggling saga: President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor struggles to clear his reputation after $9.3m arm deal money smuggled from Nigeria was found on his plane: Pastor E.A Adeboye reacts “One Anointed can not attack another Anointed. A Pastor can not attack another Pastor. Touch not MY Anointed is what God said.”


Christian Association of Nigeria President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor has been linked to the arms smuggling jet caught by South African authorities on Monday 15 September.

Online news platform, SaharaReporters claims that investigations have linked the flamboyant pastor who is a close friend of President Goodluck Jonathan to smuggling of arms.

South African police began investigating two Nigerians and an Israeli citizen who tried to bring $9.3 million in cash into the country illegally, a spokesman said on Monday.

There were suspicions that the money could be meant for arms. The Nigerians, coming from Abuja, were not identified, according to a report by Reuters.

The plane, a Bombardier Challenger 600, had a Nigerian flight crew on board. It was piloted by Captain Tunde Ojongbede, according to City Press.

Adrian Lackay, spokesperson for the SA Revenue Service (Sars), confirmed that customs officers became suspicious when the passengers’ luggage was unloaded and put through the scanners just after 7pm. The officers then investigated and found three suitcases full of cash.

The passengers apparently told officials they were acting on behalf of the Nigerian intelligence service.

They provided documentation confirming they had come to South Africa to buy weapons. It is not clear whether the Israeli passenger was an intelligence operative or an arms dealer.

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Wine held at Kayanja home

Publish Date: Aug 28, 2006

By Godfrey Kimono and Robert Mutebi

A Private security guard has been arrested in connection with smuggling assorted wines and spirits worth sh250m.

John Okoth was picked by Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) officials at 1:30am from Pastor Robert Kayanja’s residence in Gaba.

URA assistant law enforcement officer Enock Walugembe said Okoth’s accomplices fled the gunfire, abandoning two lorries and one pick-up truck loaded with booze.

Okoth was arrested together with three other people who were off-loading the wine from a boat on the lake-side and loading them on lorries inside Kayanja’s compound at night,” Walugembe said.

He said the guard might have taken advantage of Kayanja’s absence.

He said this was the fourth time URA impounded goods from Kayanja’s premises in six months.

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General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor E.A Adeboye has reacted to the $9.3m arms scandal that recently hit the leader of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor.

Airing his opinion on RCCG’s Facebook walls hours ago, Pastor Adeboye who is not known to react to controversial issues, wrote “One Anointed can not attack another Anointed. A Pastor can not attack another Pastor. Touch not MY Anointed is what God said.”

”Pastor Ayodele Joseph Oritsejafor is a man of GOD I trust and I can personally vouch for him. I believe on the issue of his aircraft being chartered and the purpose it was used for, that he had no prior knowledge. I’m sure God will continue to build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail in JESUS name.” he stated.

$9.3m scandal: attack on Oritsejafor not attack on church

In his response to allegations suggesting he was indirectly liable in the illegal haul of $9.3m cash to South Africa by two Nigerians and an Israeli, Ayo Oritsejafor, Pastor of Word of Life Bible Church, Warri, and President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), equated the attack on him with an attack on the Church in Nigeria. This is an insufferable conclusion. After finally but belatedly acknowledging that the aircraft used to ferry the money to South Africa was his, but only leased to a third party, he then launched into a winding, threatening and provocative defence of his conduct, also attacking those he describes as his enemies and enemies of the church.

Hear him: ‘In order to ameliorate the cost of maintaining the aircraft, I sought and got the 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 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. 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. 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.”

Pastor Oritsejafor was wrong to suggest he owed only the church an explanation for his conduct. As a preacher of the gospel, and obviously now as an economic player leasing jet and receiving incomes from it, he owes all of us an explanation. Indeed, he has not yet fully come clean, as his one-sided and heavily edited statement suggests. It is important to know the details of the lease arrangement with Green Coast, the revenues that have accrued, and how much tax has been paid. We recall that he at first only acknowledged a ‘residual interest’ in the jet, and was at first silent over whether it was the same jet he said a committee in his church presented to him for evangelism in 2012. Now that the jet is his, has he explained to the church how an evangelism jet, notwithstanding maintenance expenses, has suddenly become a commercial jet?
When the controversy broke, he first got CAN to defend him. In a bad-tempered statement by the body, CAN displayed the worst forms of worldliness that even those who are not Christians would balk at. In the CAN statement, the body attacked politicians and especially the All Progressives Congress, and threatened obliquely that payday (electoral response, perhaps) was around the corner. The statement all but described the APC as an Islamic party, as if there were no Christians in the opposition party, and as if Christ had anointed one party above the other.

But Pastor Oritsejafor may wish to disavow the CAN statement for its poor logic, though it is unclear why he would do that. His own statement is, however, equally riddled with threats, bad logic and intolerable pride. He would go to court, he warned, to deal with those who suggest the plane was gifted him by the president. By far the worst logic in his statement concerns his conclusion about the interchangeability of his person and the church. He sees the attack on him, the association of his person with the cash export scandal, and his indefensible closeness to Dr Jonathan as an attack on the church. But Pastor Oritsejafor is not the church, and given his serial blunders, worldliness and humanity, can’t be the church. Had he not become the personal chaplain of the president, had he not fished in the murky waters of politics, had he not insensitively tried to drag the entire CAN into the PDP, no one would have accused him of politicising or corrupting the body.
A former CAN president, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, indicated in an interview two Saturdays ago that Pastor Oritsejafor had belittled CAN and unadvisedly pressed the body into service for a president who incompetently ruled the country. And contrary to what Pastor Oritsejafor says, no one is manipulating the private jet controversy to undermine the church. The controversy is entirely his making, and if the church is disunited, the pastor’s politics and style of leadership are entirely to blame. Today, it is clear Pastor Oritsejafor is more a businessman and politician than a pastor, more vituperative than temperate of speech, more divisive than unifying, more worldly than heavenly, and more contemptuous of his enemies than accommodating. So steeped in the affairs of the world has he become that he simply is unable to see just how much damage he is doing to the unity and sanctity of the church.

Pastor Oritsejafor hopes to punish the opposition in the next presidential poll, and perhaps wishes God would inflict much additional punishment on those he considers the enemies of the church. But the pastor has no example in scripture to learn from — not Moses whose humility and grace of speech overcame potent and internal opposition to his leadership; not Elijah who retained his moral force by immeasurable self-sacrifice and spoke truth to power; nor Peter who condemned doctrinal pollution and worldly gain; and certainly not Jesus Christ whose beatitudes stand in direct and mortifying refutation of all that Pastor Oritsejafor exemplifies with uncanonical self-importance.

$9.3m scandal: Oritsejafor should do the right thing

The recent seizure by the South Africa authorities of $9.3m found in a private jet owned by Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has aggravated the image problem of this country at a time when the narrative of this government is brimming with negatives under the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan. The South African government took the action on the alleged charge the the undeclared $9.3m found in the plane might have been laundered. This revelation came when the dust generated by the seemingly dubious donation of the jet to Pastor Ayo is yet to settle. His friendship with the President has been at the centre of the controversies that mark his explosive tenure as the leader of the eponymous religious organization in Nigeria.okotie2
Not that it is a sin to be the President’s pal, but when such relationship becomes provocatively patronizing, or self-serving, it is unacceptable. The pastor does not show restraint in the way he goes about, publicly hobnobbing with the President as if he is the Chaplain of Aso Rock. This certainly  has compromised the integrity of his office as CAN President and his latest incident is just the climax of embarrassing incidents we can’t tolerate any longer. Considering the collateral damage Pastor Ayo’s close relationship with the President has done to the Christian community, it is fit and proper for the pastor to resign immediately as CAN President to salvage what remains of the battered image of the association.
This is without prejudice to the on-going investigation on the matter. Denials of his culpability by the Federal Government, CAN official and his own recent defense,  do nothing to reduce the moral burden this whole saga places on his shoulders. As the titular leader of Christians in Nigeria, there’s now a serious crisis of confidence on his leadership and he ought to respond to it by resigning from his exalted position.
That is what the ecclesiastic responsibility of his calling as a gospel minister dictates, once he finds himself in a situation  where his continued occupation of public office suffers a moral deficit, on account  of any error of commission or omission. If one may ask: why should Pastor Ayo’s jet be the one that was chartered for this ill- fated transaction when there are numerous competitors in that business in which he is obviously a new player?
It is very difficult to sustain the argument that a civilian aircraft is ideal to ferry weapons of war. A sitting President of CAN should never be involved in any way in the procurement of arms to fight insurgents like Boko Haram, Haram, which claims Islamic principles in its war against the state. To do so is to expose Christians to more deadly attacks.
To whom much is given, much is expected. The Pastor has the distinction of being the first and only person to occupy the posts of CAN President, and President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, until recently wen Rev. Felix Omobude succeeded him as PFN President.
Pastor Ayo’s friendship with President Jonathan is perfectly legitimate and nobody should attempt to query such relationship.
However, the Pastor opens himself to criticism of this otherwise normal social interaction because of his indiscretion in identifying too closely to the President, in a way that suggests a veiled endorsement of Dr. Jonathan’s policies and actions by the entire Christian community. He ought to have identified privately with the President knowing full well that he carries the mandate of the Christian community at these trying times.
In a nation of contending faiths, Pastor Ayo literally ignores our divergent religious sensibilities as he sometimes gets himself involved in public quarrels with the President’s critics, from the Muslim faith as well as in the opposition. Not all Christians are comfortable with this posture by their leader, especially at a time of intense politicking and the sectarian tensions generated by the Boko Haram insurgents and communal violence involving ethnic minorities with entrenched religious identities.
The cumulative effect of Pastor Ayo’s abrasive leadership style has also polarized the Christian community as evidenced by the current unprecedented division in CAN.
Before now, leaders of this organization deliberately stayed out of politics in keeping with the traditional stance of neutrality of the body vis-a-viz the policy postures of incumbent governments. In fact, former PFN leader like the late Archbishop Benson Idohosa and ex-CAN President, Cardinal Olubunmi  Okogie, kept governments on their toes during their time.
In more mature democracies, it is not unusual for public officers to resign from office when their actions appear to degrade their positions. And they would not have to wait to be found guilty in circumstances surrounding their actions before they throw in the towel. In other words, they could even be victims of circumstances; or in rare cases, subjects of blackmail. It didn’t matter. Once you are pelted in any way, you quit to protect the integrity of your officer.okotie
That was the case of Dominic Strauss- Khan who resigned his position as the President of IMF because he was accused of molesting a maid in a hotel in the United States. He was eventually acquitted after a celebrated trial. The immediate past Prime Minister of Korea resigned because his com- patriots were drowned recently in a chartered cruise ship, which carried some students on a picnic. Just last month, the First Minister of Scotland, Mr. Alex Salmond resigned because he led his country’s failed bid to gain independence from the United Kingdom. Nobody asked him to resign; he did so of his own accord because he felt it was wrong to continue to run a country he launched on a part of an unsuccessful “secession.”
If purely secular leaders could do this to affirm their integrity, Pastor Ayo should take the honorable path by leaving office, not  necessarily because he is guilty as charged, but to restore honor to an exalted office he has unwittingly degraded because of his unabashed flirtation with the head of government that is perceived as one of the most corrupt in the world. The Bible commands us to “flee from all appearance of evil.”
Nobody says Pastor Ayo cannot do business; he could have been in order, if he does so as the pastor of his Word of Life Bible Church. But since his private jet was involved in a transaction gone awry in a foreign land, while he is still the sitting President of CAN, it is difficult for him to continue to command the respect of Nigerian Christians of diverse denominations who constitute the CAN group, regardless of the defence his sympathizers and the Federal Government tried to put up on his behalf.
If this incident had happened in Pastor Ayo’s capacity as the head/founder of the  Word of Life Bible Church, no one could justifiably call for his head because the Bible teaches that the “call of God is without repentance.” In other words, regardless of the con- duct of a servant of God, He does not remove them from office or withdraw their anointing. This is one of the mysteries of the gospel.
The Almighty has a way of chastising his errant servants. But here, we are dealing with Pastor Ayo as the leader of CAN; the largest umbrella of Nigerian Christians. He is condemned to be judged by secular standards, which, in this case, demands that, having found himself in a quagmire which calls to question the sanctity of his office, he must step down to redeem his image.
The Pastor should quit the CAN post and return to his church where he could then re- calibrate himself, away from this season of anomie.
Rev. Okotie, a presidential aspirant, wrote from Lagos.


Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el’Rufai, has accused the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, of resorting to abuse after his futile efforts to shake off his connection to the aircraft used for smuggling $9.3m cash from Nigeria to South Africa.

The CAN in a statement on Tuesday admitted that the aircraft was owned by Eagle Air Company in which Oritsejafor had interest, but added that the story of the arrest of the aircraft in South Africa was sponsored by the All Progressives Congress and some members of the party including el-Rufai.

The South African police are said to be investigating two Nigerians and an Israeli citizen who tried to bring the money (about N1.5bn) in cash into the country illegally as part of an arms deal.

In his response to CAN on Wednesday, the former minister in a statement by his media aide, Muyiwa Adekeye, said Oritsejafor should be more reflective about the incident rather than resorting to abuse.

He said, “When light unexpectedly shines on murkiness, those exposed by the stinging rays often berate the light rather than regret the muck.

“That is the plight of Ayo Oritsejafor whose private jet was identified as the vessel impounded by the South African authorities for ferrying $9.3m cash into their country.

“A statement from Eagle Air admitted Oritsejafor’s interests in the aircraft, but said it leased the plane to Green Coast which in turn acknowledged hiring the plane out for the trip to South Africa.

“Unable to shake off his connection to the plane, Oritsejafor has resorted to abuse and vilification. Were he more reflective, he would be pondering how, of all the private jets available in Nigeria, it was his that came to be involved in a covert arms purchase scandal.

“Would he have managed any objectivity if the plane involved happened to belong to a prominent person of another faith or political persuasion?” 


A high powered special team put together to unravel the mystery behind alleged involvement of President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Ayo Oritsejafor and Alhaji Mujahideen Asari Dokubo in the botched $9.3 million arms deal in South Africa has cleared both men of any complicity in the matter.

A private aircraft belonging to Oritsejafor last month conveyed some unnamed persons and the cash to South Africa ostensibly to purchase arms from the black market to help bolster Nigeria’s fight against terrorists in parts of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.

This led to widespread speculations in the media and sentiments being expressed by politicians on the issue in Nigeria.

Three individuals on board were subsequently briefly detained in South-Africa while the cash was confiscated by that country’s financial authorities.

Weeks later, there were also insinuations that Niger Delta activist, Dokubo was one of those who flew in the plane.

However, authoritative sources have told Vanguard that a panel set up to investigate the matter cleared the CAN President, while also dismissing allegations that Dokubo was on the flight.

The source said, “A Special Team, comprising security agents, intelligence experts and officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs investigated the $9.3m cash-for- arms deal and submitted its report to the Presidency.

“The committee confirmed that the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsajefor had no connection with the transaction.

“It was true that the CAN President’s jet was used but we found out that it was without his knowledge. As at the time in question, the aircraft was on lease. And you may be aware that the lease trend is peculiar to private jet owners in the country.

“It is the view of the committee that Oritsajefor cannot be held liable for any shuttle made by a lease firm.

“As for the manifest of the plane, the committee also discovered that the Niger Delta activist, Mujahedeen Asari Dokubo was not among those on board the transaction aircraft. There was no mention of Dokubo in the manifest presented during the investigation.”

The source expressed surprise that the matter was made public by South African authorities in the first place since an end user certificate duly signed by the Office National Security Adviser was presented by those who were on the plane.

“The committee’s findings revealed that the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) has the statutorily and legitimately mandate to issue end-user certificate for such arms transactions. The imputations surrounding the role of the ONSA were unfounded, baseless and ill-motivated.
The source added that “The decision of South Africa to return $15million to Nigeria lent credence to the legality of the transaction” saying “ Certainly, Nigeria had no case to answer”.