The federal government has exonerated the president of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor from the alleged involvement of his aircraft in the controversial $9.3million arms deal in South Africa.
The senior special assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on public communication, Dr Doyin Okupe, told Religious Affairs Correspondents yesterday in Abuja that Oritsejafor, who is also the founder of Word of Life Bible Church has no business with the matter.
Okupe said that most Nigerians do not respect the sensibilities of other people, adding that Oritsejafor as the president of CAN and head of all Christians in Nigeria, representing at least 50 per cent of people in Nigeria, should be discussed with caution.
He advised Nigerians to stop playing politics with every issue of national concern, and commended the office of National Security Adviser for coming out promptly to tell the truth on the matter.
The presidential aide also said it would not be proper for government to be making public its plans on how to tackle the ongoing security challenges in the country.
Okupe said, “The linking of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor is the most unfortunate thing; to put the very respectable, responsible, honest and sincere President of CAN in this matter is the extreme of mischief. It just shows you what Nigerians do, they go to any extent to politicize everything and everyday. What bothers me here is the manner with people want to bring down Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor on this matter. It is pure absurdity.
“Oritsejafor has no business in this matter. It is true that he owns the aircraft but there are over 200 private Nigerians who have jets. Apart from those who use it frequently, some give it out to get some money and defray some of the costs. If you put your jet down, you pay money and parking charges everyday.”
“He gave the private jet to a company to manage. The company is handing it and these people gave out the plane that is available. What has this to do with Oritsejafor? If I have many cars at the airport and decide to give one to car hire services. And he decides to carry somebody having Indian hemp, and you will link it up with the man who gave it out? Excuse me, this is ridiculous.”
He also responded to criticisms that the issue went out of hand because the government did not come out publicly on the issue before embarking on the adventure.
Okupe said, “The Nigerian government cannot share all information about the issues because it is a security matter. It is an issue which we cannot just bring to pubic domain. For goodness sake, we need to have some quiet innocent support. I am surprised that Nigerians want to discuss security issues openly and publicly when a war is still going on.
“These are very serious national security affairs and running a government is not the same thing as running a Shoprite, where everything is on the table and on display. There is nothing shady about the South African deal and the Office of the NSA has done very well because at the appropriate time, they came in that, ‘yes, this money belongs to us and this was what it was meant for’; that explanation itself was okay. There is no hanky panky on this matter.”
He also stated that the second controversial deal has legitimized the first because it was a normal banking transaction.
“A company was mandated to do a national security assignment for the Federal Government of Nigeria and because of the extant laws in South Africa, that company was unable to deliver its contractual agreement with the Nigerian government; the company now wants a refund which is normal”, Okupe said.