With about two weeks to the inauguration of the Christian Association of Nigeria President-elect, Dr. Samson Ayokunle, a group under the aegis of Christ Redeemers Union, on Monday, alleged that two ex-Presidents of CAN were hatching a plot to frustrate the inauguration.
The CRU alleged that a former President of CAN and the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, had invited the outgoing President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, and some other Christians to a meeting on Thursday, July 7.
It said the meeting would take place, at the residence of another former President of CAN and the ex-Primate of the Methodist Church, Sunday Mbang, in Akwa Ibom State.
The CRU, in a statement by its National Director, Dr. Ebenezer Abednego, described the meeting as illegal.
While Ayokunle, President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, contested the CAN presidential election under the platform of the Christian Council of Nigeria, his Vice-President-Elect, Prof. Joseph Otubu, of the Motailatu Church Cherubim and Seraphim Movement, contested under the umbrella of the Organisation of African Instituted Churches.
The inauguration of the new leadership of CAN will hold on July 20 during the forthcoming General Assembly of CAN in Abuja to be presided over by Oritsejafor, who is the Founder of the Word of Life Bible Church.
When contacted on Monday, Onaiyekan confirmed the meeting but stated that it was not opened to the public.
“Who told you about the meeting? I know you are a journalist, but just know that the meeting is not supposed to be given any publicity,” he added.
When asked for his reaction to the allegation that it was to scuttle the inauguration of Ayokunle, the cleric said he had nothing else to say.
“I said I’m not ready to comment on that meeting. I have no information about whatever is happening now in CAN. You know that if there is anything I wish to share with you, I will not hesitate. By God’s grace, when it is time, I will speak with you,” he stated.
In his reaction, Mbang, who is a former President of CAN, in whose house the meeting will allegedly hold, angrily distanced his group from the CAN elections and other allied matters.
Mbang added, “I don’t understand what you are saying. The issue you are raising has nothing to do with us; I repeat, it has nothing to do with us.
“The election, suspension and all others, we are not concerned. We are not a party to it. Have you heard me? Please ask me no further question. Full stop! Thank you.”
Efforts by our correspondent to confirm from Oritsejafor if he had any knowledge of the meeting were not successful and his telephone lines indicated that they were switched off.
While describing the purported meeting in Mbang’s house as illegal, Abednego vowed that the CRU would resist any plot to scuttle the inauguration of Ayokunle, which he alleged was to “create confusion in the body of Christ.”
He said, “We have been informed that the meeting was at the instance of Cardinal Onaiyekan, who is from the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria bloc. The aim of the meeting is to frustrate the inauguration of the newly-elected President of CAN, Ayokunle, and Prof. Joseph Otubu.
“This same ex-President of CAN had earlier expressed his disdain and had sworn that no member of the Pentecostals and white garment churches would be President of CAN.
“For us in CRU, the meeting is laced with serious mischief and we see it as a plot and booby trap to cause crisis in the body of Christ and disallow the incumbent from finishing his tenure successfully.
“The Akwa Ibom meeting has no name, and it is unconstitutional in CAN. Will Nigerian Christians allow this aggrieved ex-President of CAN to usurp the authority of CAN NEC, which had validly and constitutionally elected a successor to Oritsejafor?”