Rejoinder: CAN Advertorial Of Friday 14th December, 2018

The National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) regards with much concern and regret the consistent contention and acrimony demonstrated by the current Officials of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle. It is a cause of great concern when Officials of Christian Association of Nigeria paid for Advertorial to denounce an arm of the Body of Christ in total disregard of the Constitution of CAN. In its paid Advertorial, signed by Barrister Daramola Joseph Bade, the Acting General Secretary of CAN and Bishop S. T. V. Adegbite, Director of National Issues, CAN stated, that it “forthwith dissolves and dissociates completely from the NCEF”. This statement has no basis in law or logic. Having issued such falsehood through a paid Advertorial, NCEF is left with no other option but to utilize the same medium to set records straight. The NCEF wishes to clarify as follows:

1.      The Constitution of CAN does not empower NEC to “dissolve” any Christian body. Article 6 of the CAN Constitution identifies the “member groups” of CAN. It is these “member groups” that Article 8 authorized NEC can “suspend” if the need arises. Such “suspension” would be “pending the Assembly’s final determination of the issue, or issues, which led to the suspension.” Article 6 is clear on the “member-group” referred to in Article 8. Since NCEF is NOT one of these “member groups” it does not come under the power of CAN to “suspend” talk less of “dissolve” which is non-existent in the Constitution of CAN. It is a violation of the Constitution of CAN for NEC to pass any resolution “dissolving” any Christian Group. NEC does not have such power. This is another example of the impunity and recklessness of Rev. Ayokunle as President of CAN. It is unfortunate that the current Officials of CAN presumptuously overreached their mandate and responsibility.

2.      NCEF is an arm of Christian Social Movement of Nigeria (CSMN). On Tuesday 30th December, 2014 three members of the CSMN travelled to Warri to meet the immediate past President of CAN and intimated him of their plans to start a Forum of Christian Elders. They invited the then CAN President to inaugurate the Forum as an expression of Church Unity. Since then, the NCEF has been working closely with CAN as a subset of the Association of which Nigerian Christians are members. To confirm the source of NCEF, its bank account is in the name of CSMN. Therefore, even if NCEF is to be dissolved, only CSMN can do that. That the President of CAN was invited to inaugurate NCEF does not confer ownership on CAN. Any Christian Group is at liberty to invite the President of CAN to inaugurate its leadership.

3.      NCEF is certain there are no Minutes of any meeting of NEC of CAN in 2014 or before then, where the issue of setting up NCEF by NEC or CAN was discussed. (Except someone produces a doctored document.) NCEF is also certain that NEC could not have mandated the former President of CAN to inaugurate NCEF as alluded to in the Advertorial since NEC holds regular meetings in February, July, and October. The CSMN members met the former President of CAN in December 2014 and NCEF was inaugurated in January 2015. Therefore, NEC could not have mandated the setting up of NCEF.

4.      The charge against NCEF of “incongruous and unacceptable operation manifested consistently by the group” is vague. What exactly in the views of CAN did NCEF do that was wrong? If NCEF took any position considered unfavorable to CAN, have CAN Officials tried at any time to dialogue? NCEF on its part sent Committee reports and petitions to NEC for its consideration. Why hasn’t NEC invited NCEF to discuss these issues? NCEF was willing to dialogue but NEC under Rev. Dr. Ayokunle rejected all the overtures only to violate the Constitution of CAN and exercise arbitrary powers outside of the Constitution.

5.      For the avoidance of doubt, the issues causing contention in CAN revolve around fraud, criminal conversion of CAN’s funds by some of the principal officers of CAN, criminal audit of CAN accounts to conceal fraud, criminal violation of the Constitution of CAN to conceal fraud, dereliction of duties, abuse of office and inability to repent as Christians. The NCEF has sought to mediate in these issues with the aim of restoring normalcy into the running of the Association but the affected CAN Officials remain obstinate and unrepentant. Rather than repent, they resorted to setting up kangaroo Committees to sweep issues under the carpet. 

Since its inception, the Christian Elders have sought to enlighten Christians that religion has always been a major determining factor in governance in Nigeria. Even when Christians are in power, they have mostly acted as proxies for Islamist power brokers. While many Christians engage politics on the basis of ethnicity, and nationalism, Muslims from the North use Islam as the unifying factor. NCEF has sought to educate Christians that they should also use Christianity as the unifying factor. This will enable Christians to use their population and resources to promote Democracy and good governance for the Common Good of all citizens.

From all indications, there are Church leaders in league with Islamists to sustain the status quo. For these Church leaders, the advocacies of NCEF are deemed unacceptable.

With the advent of Jihad in Nigeria and the increasing prospect of Sharia ideology supplanting Democracy as National Ideology and source of legislation over and above the Constitution, Nigerian Christians are alerted to the discordant tunes emanating from CAN. NCEF has observed that there appears collaboration between some CAN Officials and the Islamists. Such collaboration would not be new in history. In June 634 AD, collaboration between a Christian, Romanus, and Islamic invaders led to the fall of Bosra while collaboration between a Priest named Jonah and Islamic invaders in September 634 AD, led to the fall of Damascus. The defeat of both Christian cities led to the Islamization of Syria. In 1453, Turkey fell to Sultan Mehmed through a weapon invented by a Christian named Orban.

Nigerian Christians are urged to pay attention to what is going on in CAN under the current group of Officials. Christians should ask questions and demand proper independent investigation of all the allegations against CAN Officials. Christians should demonstrate zeal for truth and righteousness in their apex body as standard prerequisite for demanding probity from politicians of the world.

NCEF remains a duly constituted arm of Christian Social Movement of Nigeria (CSMN) and a member of the Body of Christ in Nigeria. CAN has no authority to dissolve NCEF.

Thank you.

For and on behalf of NCEF,

Bosun Emmanuel