And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8: 32
It is with the above Bible verse as background that Christian Social Movement of Nigeria (CSMN) would issue a Rejoinder to the publication referred to above, signed by Prof. Charles Adisa and Rev. Gideon Para-Mallam. It is difficult to know which one of them actually authored the document because the document is full of “I” yet it was signed by two persons.
After the paper was published, it was revised and hastily edited and some malicious portions were removed when the author(s) received indications that a Rejoinder may likely be produced. This in itself confirms the ill-motive behind the document. Despite the editing and removal of portions where inappropriate references were made to the Chairman of NCEF and the former Vice President of CAN, Prof. Joseph Otubu, the revised paper still included a glaringly false statement that “CAN leadership was distracted for almost four years by Prof. Otubu and his sympathizers.” This statement is false. CSMN therefore has a duty to set records straight so that Nigerian Christians can be aware of the manipulations that weaken Christianity and make Christians prey and victims to forces opposed to Democracy.
CSMN is aware of the yearning of Christians for peace and unity in the Church. As a Christian body, CSMN shares the same burden, even much more than the average Christian. However, it should be realized that there would be no peace and unity without righteous leadership in the Church. Isaiah 32: 17 makes clear that the end of righteousness is peace. Where there is no righteousness, there can be no peace. Therefore, Nigerian Christians should be committed to emergence of righteous leadership in the Christian Association so that they can have peace. A pretentious and hypocritical leadership will always undermine the safety and security of Christians. CSMN is therefore calling on all Christians to patiently go through this paper and understand the issues causing defeat for Christianity in Nigeria so they can join in the agitation for righteousness in the Church. It is in our collective interest.
CSMN would also need to correct the misconception of what constitutes strife in the Church. When there is an agitation for truth and justice that is not strife. When there is a determination that unrighteousness should be expunged from the Church that is not strife. If it were, then there would be no basis for seeking justice because those who do evil rarely desist except they are resisted.
From the onset, it should be made clear that the document produced by Prof. Adisa and Rev. Para-Mallam is an example of a dangerous attitude creeping into the Church in which people demand love and forgiveness without Christian accountability and Christian penitence. Even God does not love an unrepentant sinner that is why He is going to throw him into hell. It is good to love one another but it is evil to condone lawlessness and unrighteousness under the guise of love. We find no scriptural basis for such assumption. The volume of misconducts that are displayed in the apex body of the Christian Association puts the integrity and righteousness of Nigerian Christians to question. It should be remembered that those in the apex body of Christianity stand in the spirit realm as representatives of Nigerian Christians. If they are not righteous, individual Christians will suffer their spiritual compromise, as it is currently going on.
Arising from the document, we shall group this rejoinder into five parts, as follows:
- Allegations against Dr. Ayokunle
- Performance of Rev. Ayokunle
- CAN Election
- Support for Prof. Osinbajo
In the first document which CSMN received, there was a skewed narrative of the mediation efforts of Nigerian Christian Graduate Fellowship. Since it has been deleted and another document has been produced, it would still be necessary to provide brief background explanation about how this crisis in CAN started.
- In December 2016, upon noticing that crisis was brewing amongst the Executive of CAN, NCEF on 7th December, 2016 wrote to Rev. Ayokunle, as CAN President, requesting for a meeting with CAN Executive in Abuja, in order to quickly resolve the conflict. NCEF suggested four dates for the CAN President to choose from. Rev. Ayokunle claimed he was not available on any of those four dates. However, on one of the dates, (21st December, 2016) he came to Abuja to attend Christmas Carol organized by VP Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. When he was pressed further for a date, he replied that all the Christian Elders should come and meet him in Ibadan on 29th December, 2016! How does one describe this attitude?
- In the interest of Christianity, the Christian Elders were patient until February 15, 2017 when Rev. Ayokunle eventually granted a meeting at the Jubilee House in the National Christian Center, Abuja. Even though the letter of NCEF was clear that the meeting was for the five members of CAN Executive, Rev. Ayokunle came with extra six uninvited people, four of whom were Yoruba. He deliberately created an atmosphere that was not conducive for mediation and reconciliation. Even his comportment was combative.
- When the scandal of fraud committed by some CAN Officials (Rev. Ayokunle inclusive) in March 2017 in Cotonou broke out in July 2017, NCEF set up a Committee headed by Gen. Zamani Lekwot to investigate and make recommendations to CAN President. Rev. Ayokunle ignored the recommendation of the Committee. From that moment, the crisis spiraled out of control.
- On 25th July, 2017, seven members of the NCEF went to meet Rev. Ayokunle to appeal to him to reconcile with late Rev. Asake (former General Secretary) and his Vice in the interest of the Church. Rev. Ayokunle deliberately frustrated and antagonized the Christian Elders to the extent that they resolved they would never have anything to do with him again. Following appeals by other members of the NCEF, the Christian Elders continued to work with his Administration.
- It was after all these that NCEF, in December 2017, still set up another Committee headed by retired Supreme Court Hon. Justice Ogebe to help CAN resolve the crisis. Till today, Rev. Ayokunle ignored the report of the Committee headed by a Justice of the Supreme Court (Rtd).
Consequently, when Prof. Adisa and Rev. Para-Mallam embarked on a PR job to “re-package” Rev. Ayokunle as a committed servant of the Christian Association, CSMN has no option but to object. No one should distort facts as there is too much at stake.
ALLEGATIONS AGAINST REV. AYOKUNLE
The document under reference created the impression that Rev. Ayokunle was maligned and slandered and did not misconduct himself as the President of CAN. This general conclusion was based on the report of the Committee headed by Apostle Alexander Bamgbola, the Lagos State Chairman of CAN.
Prof. Otubu, the former Vice President of CAN, refused to appear before the Apostle Bamgbola’s Committee after due consideration that it was Rev. Ayokunle who during the meeting of NEC nominated Apostle Bamgbola as head of the Committee that would investigate him. Why would a man indicted in an allegation appoint the person to investigate him?
It is not CSMN that would prove that the Apostle Bamgbola Committee’s Report lacks credibility and should be consigned to the dustbin; it is Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) that condemns the Committee and its Report. In the case of Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo and Mrs. Busola Dakolo, PFN set up a Committee to investigate. Pastor Fatoyinbo refused to make an appearance before the Committee. The PFN Committee consequently submitted an “inconclusive” report that since one party did not honor its invitation, it had nothing to report.
Apostle Bamgbola did the exact opposite. Despite the non-appearance of Prof. Otubu due to lack of confidence in the Committee, Apostle Bamgbola still went ahead and produced a ONE-SIDED REPORT, hearing from only one party and absolved Rev. Ayokunle of any wrong doing. He presented his Report at a meeting of NEC in which Rev. Ayokunle, the indicted individual, was the Chairman and the Report was accepted by Rev. Ayokunle as the Chairman, and he declared himself innocent! This was done in the Christian Association of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
Apostle Bamgbola used to be the Chairman of PFN, Lagos State Branch. It is evident, that the standard of PFN is not the standard of Apostle Bamgbola. And, in case the reader is not aware, Apostle Bamgbola, like Prof. Adisa, is also a Yoruba man.
Therefore, if anyone claims Rev. Ayokunle have been investigated and found innocent, the claim is not true. The following protests and petitions still stand against Rev. Ayokunle:
- All the petitions of Prof. Otubu still stand.
- The written and signed admission of Barrister Daramola, as the Asst. Gen. Secretary of CAN that four CAN Officials, led by Rev. Ayokunle, defrauded CAN to the tune of N45m in purchase of vehicles in Cotonou, remains valid. In addition, the fraudulent Audit Report to cover the fraud, in violation of Article 19 of CAN Constitution, also stands to be investigated.
- The Report of the retired Hon. Justice Ogebe’s Committee still stands,
- The petition of the Coordinator of the CAN Trust Fund still stands.
- The protest of the CSMN to the National Assembly of CAN that the “re-election” of Rev. Ayokunle is a violation of four Articles in the CAN Constitution as well as allegations of vote buying still stands.
We hope that it would be understandable why Christians would be reminded of the Bible verse from Isaiah 5: 20 - “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.”
PERFORMANCE OF REV. AYOKUNLE
The document of Prof. Adisa and Rev. Para-Mallam went to great lengths to impress the reader about the contribution and hard work of Rev. Ayokunle for the Church. We disagree based on verifiable information at our disposal.
Since the visit of Mr. John Kerry, the former Secretary of State of USA, to Nigeria in August 2016, we started compiling the Performance Report of Rev. Ayokunle. The summary is that Rev. Ayokunle deliberately frustrates Christian intervention to protect the Islamists. This is the reason NCEF kept asking, “On which side is Rev. Ayokunle?” We shall mention a few:
- The former President of CAN, his Eminence, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, left a Strategy Document for his successor to implement. If this had been done, Christians would not be in the distress they are in today. NCEF handed this Document over to Rev. Ayokunle on 2nd August, 2016. To date, despite many reminders, he refused to touch it.
- In November 2016, Prof. Otubu gathered Christian Academics from Nigerian Universities, captains of Finance in Nigeria, Political leaders, and of course, Church leaders to strategize for Nigerian Church. Till today, Rev. Ayokunle refused to implement the document. On one occasion when he was reminded, he reacted angrily.
- The former CAN President left behind the CAN Trust Fund to make CAN financially independent so that Christians can be protected and helped. Rev. Ayokunle made sure he frustrated the CAN Trust Fund which was designed to bring N5 billion monthly to CAN. The most shocking thing is that CAN Trust Fund allocated N7 million to purchase food for Christian IDPs in seven States. The States are: Southern Borno, Taraba, Benue, Plateau, Southern Kaduna, Adamawa and Enugu. The cheque was issued on 12th April, 2018. Rev. Ayokunle made sure he frustrated the release of the money. The cheque lapsed inside the National Secretariat of CAN. It is still there till today. Meanwhile, some of the Christian women in the IDP camps were exchanging sex for food due to starvation. Is this righteous Christian leadership?
- Rev. Ayokunle deliberately frustrated the Christian Political Consensus and hindered every effort to harmonize Christians to produce a Christian President in the 2019 Elections. The details are contained in the Report of the NCEF titled: FACTORS HINDERING CHRISTIAN POLITICAL CONSENSUS FOR 2019 ELECTIONS. It was a deliberate act of sabotage by Rev. Ayokunle. Should Christians ignore this?
- Due to the personalities that participated in the RUGA Conference, we would not wish to say much about it. Nevertheless, the time and resources spent on the Conference could have been better applied to the core issues that affect not only the Church, but the entire country.
Due to space, the full report of Rev. Ayokunle’s performance cannot be included in this document. The bottom line is that it is not an honest statement, for anyone to claim that Rev. Ayokunle worked and performed well for the Church. The contrary is the case.
Before rounding up this section, we should point out that we observed that the document under reference paid glowing tribute to Rev. Ayokunle setting up 1,000-man Election Observers for the 2019 Elections. However, over six months after the elections, we are not aware that CAN has released any report of its team. Meanwhile, every other group that sent Election Observers has release the report. If there is such a report, we think it should be made public since the deployment of the CAN Election Observers was made public. Otherwise, it might give the impression that someone sat on the report if it was not favorable to vested political interests in CAN.
Today, Christians are in the vanguard of protest and rejection of the manipulation of the 2019 Election. However, before Christians can remove the speck from the eyes of the politicians, they should first remove the log in their eyes. How was election conducted in CAN?
The last election under which Rev. Ayokunle was purportedly “re-elected” was a lawless and corrupt exercise. The Christian Social Movement of Nigeria (CSMN) wrote to the National Assembly of CAN pointing out that the election of Rev. Ayokunle violated the following Articles in CAN Constitution:
- Article 14 (a)
- Article 14 (b), iii
- Article 19
- Article 22
CSMN also pointed out that there are allegations of vote buying in which sums ranging from 300,000 naira, 500,000 naira, and one million naira were allegedly offered and paid to secure the vote of some CAN delegates. CSMN called for investigation of the allegations. It should be to the embarrassment of Nigerian Christians that Church leaders ignored the protest and went ahead to give Christians an illegitimate President for the Association. Meanwhile, Christians were pointing accusing finger at the Federal Court of Appeal for compromising National Election.
If Christians cannot conduct FREE AND FAIR election in the Church, on what basis are they expecting free and fair election in the country? If the election rigging in CAN is allowed to stand, then the entire land will go into bondage because the saints would have no legal ground to intercede or to condemn the world of sin. It is very unfortunate that a Professor of Medicine and a Reverend would seek to sugar coat this evil in a bid to legitimize an illegality. This is a Christian Association, it is not a cult neither is it a political party.
The “re-election” of Rev. Ayokunle is illegal, it is unconstitutional and it shall not stand. If Christians are going to secure the intervention of God in the various challenges militating against the Church and the country, then, Christians must put their house in order.
SUPPORT FOR VICE-PRESIDENT OSINBAJO
We acknowledge that Prof. Osinbajo is a Nigerian and he deserves justice and fair hearing. We also concede that it is right for Christians to support each other. However, we need to express concern on the response of CAN and the seriousness Prof. Adisa and Rev. Para-Mallam attached to the issue in their document.
- When CJN Walter Onnoghen, a Christian, was harassed and forced out of Office, we did not notice CAN going on “fact finding mission” to him, neither did Prof. Adisa and Rev. Para-Mallam write a long Epistle as is currently being done to mobilize Christian support for him.
- When Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, another Christian, was hounded and forced out of Office, CAN did not raise a “fact finding mission” in her defense neither did its agents write an Epistle on her behalf.
- Now that it is the turn of Vice President Osinbajo, every rusty engine in CAN is creaking to life and racing at full speed to defend the Vice President. Could there be tribal elements to it as noticeable with Rev. Ayokunle?
Whatever personal opinion people may have about the challenges of the Vice President, we urge caution before anyone seeks to classify it as Christian persecution or Christian marginalization. This is because in the past four years, Prof. Osinbajo used his Office and his influence to deny Christian persecution. Against strident protests by Christians, Prof. Osinbajo insisted, both locally and internationally, that Christians are not persecuted in Nigeria. On one occasion, he insisted in the USA that more Muslims are killed in Nigeria than Christians. In a particular incident, an American Official protested that the Vice President dissimulated.
Therefore, care should be taken not to make his political challenges look like a Christian problem. It is a political problem not a Christian problem. By the admission of the Vice President, Christian persecution does not exist in Nigeria and we should take his word for it. A lot of Christians have been killed, maimed and dispossessed under the watch of the Vice President while he kept denying Christian persecution.
We hope that as a citizen, he would overcome his present travails. However, other Christians in Government should learn from this incident that as Christians, they should use their offices to defend and protect the people of God, like Nehemiah and Esther because, they do not know, when they would need the Church.
In conclusion, NCEF would wish to remind Nigerian Christians of an article it had written before titled BETWEEN THE WILDERNESS AND THE PROMISED LAND. After 470 years of slavery and wandering in the wilderness, the day came when the children of Israel stood at the border of the Promised Land. At that point, an entity arose from amongst the Israelites whose individual action put the entire nation at jeopardy. His name was Achan. He was not a stranger, he was an Israelite.
If the people of Israel had become emotional claiming, “he is our brother”, “we should love one another”, “we should forgive”, “what we need is reconciliation”, and the other usual statements of Nigerian Christians condoning unrighteousness in the Church, the Israelites would have perished in the wilderness. This should be a lesson to Nigerian Christians on how to handle unrighteousness in the Body of Christ. The collective survival of the Christians in Nigeria should be greater than the ambition of an individual.
The last election of CAN violates the Constitution of CAN; it should be cancelled and fresh election should be conducted.
A lot of Christians are praying and fasting for divine intervention but there is no visible commitment to return to righteousness. This is not the time to live in the fear of men while God’s standard of holiness and righteousness are violated with impunity within the Christian Association. This is the time for every God fearing man/woman in Nigeria, Christians, to arise and demand righteousness in the Church as divine prerequisite to God’s deliverance and healing of our nation.
2 Chro. 7: 14 says, “If my people which are called by My Name shall humble themselves and turn from their wicked ways, … I will heal their land”
Solomon Asemota, SAN
Chairman, Board of Governor
Christian Social Movement of Nigeria (CSMN)
8th October, 2019