The National Christian Elders Forum, being championed by over 100 elder statesmen, including a former Minister of Defence, Lieutenanr General Theophilus Danjuma, has dismissed rumours that it was no longer in the Christian Association of Nigeria.
The NCEF said the leadership of CAN under its President, Dr. Stephen Olasupo Ayokunle, landed in more embarrassment when it tried to defend the allegation that it took over N25 million from the Presidency.
The organisation said the clarification became necessary following “deliberate distortion of narratives” after its petition to the National Executive Council of CAN, over the alleged collection of N25 million from the Presidency during the recent visit to President Muhammadu Buhari by some CAN leaders.
“NCEF wishes to reiterate that it remains an arm of CAN and is not interested in taking over CAN or running CAN. The only objective of NCEF is to transform CAN into a formidable institution capable of representing and protecting Christian interests in the country. These can only be achieved if CAN is standing on truth and in righteousness,” the organisation said in a statement issued by its Secretary, Bosun Emmanuel.
Apart from Danjuma, other members of NCEF are Solomon Asemota (SAN), Prof. Joseph Otubu, General Joshua Dogonyaro (retd), Archbishop Magnus Atilade, Dr. Kate Okpareke, Dr. Ayo Abifarin, General Zamani Lekwot (rtd), Elder Moses Ihonde, Elder Nat Okoro and Elder Matthew Owojaiye.
Other members include Justice Kalajine Anigbogu (retd), Elder Shyngle Wigwe, DIG P. L. Dabup, Sir John W. Bagu, Dr. Saleh Hussaini, Elder Mike Orobator, Justice James Ogebe, (retd), Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Chief Debo Omotosho, Dame Priscilla Kuye, Dr. S. D. Gani, Osaretin Demuren, Prof. Yussuf Turaki, late Dr. Musa Asake and Pastor Bosun Emmanuel (Secretary).
The statement reads: “Further to the petition of the NCEF to the NEC of CAN, a lot of invective and deliberate distortion of narratives have been observed. Consequently, it is necessary to point out the following: NCEF made its petition public to show Nigerian Christians how far stealth Jihad has permeated the Church giving room for conventional Jihad to decimate and brutalize Christianity in Nigeria.
“If the current trend is not reversed, Christianity in Nigeria shall be strangulated out of existence. So far, no one has been able to prove that the NCEF is guilty of falsehood. Even the shoddy attempt that was made to deny the N25 million from the Presidency ended as an embarrassment.
“Christians are reminded that ‘righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people’. This is the time for Christians to demonstrate loyalty to Jesus Christ by standing on the side of Truth and righteousness.
“All those making deceitful and diversionary statements should remember that we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and not before any earthly leader.”
Ayokunle had, in an interview with a national newspaper, described the allegations as “catalogue of lies”.
He had said: “There is no truth in what they are alleging. No truth at all in all the allegations. If they are after sanity in CAN, is it on the pages of newspapers that they intend to settle any dispute. Do you the Muslims behave like that about their leaders?
“You know if these people are allowed to smear my reputation on the pages of the media, they have successfully finished the Church in Nigeria. They have already written that I should be removed because they did a kangaroo investigation which did not involve me.”
According to Ayokunle, all stakeholders on both sides of the conflict must allow the NEC of CAN to handle all perceived grievances amicably “because when you have done the damage, it will be difficult to correct”.