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$9.3: Catholic Bishops deny accusing Oritsejafor of culpability

By The Citizen
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The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria has denied that its President, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, had accused the President of Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Ortistejafor, of denting the image of Christianity in Nigeria over the controversial $9.3 million allegedly found in the aircraft owned by the CAN President.

In a statement issued by its Director (Social Communications) in the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Chris Anyanwu on Friday said that the reports carried in some Newspapers were 'not only false and malicious but a calculated attempt to further sow the seed of disharmony between Catholics and the leadership of CAN.

'There is a poison of deliberate misinformation in the air, more deadly than the Ebola Virus Disease. This may be a symptom of how forthcoming political events may be handled in the media. Some persons want to, at all cost, see the North and the South, Christians and Muslims fight. In God's name it shall not come to be.”

The Cleric said, 'While we disassociate ourselves from the newspaper reports, it is important to put the records in the right perspective. Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama granted an interview with the Hausa BBC Service in Kaduna in which he condemned money laundering.

'Our prayer is that our nation shall remain one and indivisible. No matter how hard our detractors may try, they will not succeed. As leaders of the Catholic Church we shall continue to be objective in our assessment of the situation in the country and endeavor to edify everyone by our comments and actions and not to destroy. This is because we believe that we are one people and one nation. God bless our beloved country Nigeria.

'All that Archbishop Kaigama said about the $9.3 million saga was that the matter should be investigated in depth to avoid insinuations, psychological projections and unhealthy rumours and gossips. A transcription of his interview will reveal that the words attributed to him were a figment of somebody's imagination. He said nothing about Pastor Ayo hobnobbing with Mr President or dragging CAN to the mud; neither did he mention the pastor's name or Mr. President.

'He (Kaigama) said  that the relevant authorities  in Nigeria ought to investigate  the issue of the $9.3million arms deals saga dispassionately and ensure that those found guilty of money laundering be punished according to the provision of the existing law of our land against money laundering. He never, in the said interview, cast any aspersion on the person of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

'This is unfortunate, inciteful, unpatriotic and uncharitable. It looks like some people have problems with the person of Pastor Oritsejafor and wanted as the saying goes 'to borrow the mouth of Archbishop Kaigama to chop their onions'. It appears that some people are hell-bent on setting the Catholic Church against the rest of CAN. Some want to use unfortunate situations to promote their fortunes.'

Rev Fr Anyanwu stated that although the Catholic Bishops had in the past made their observations about how CAN could be run better not with the intention to discredit the body but for things to be corrected fraternally, adding, 'there were screaming headlines which tended to put the Catholic Church in negative light.'

According to him, Reporters who monitored the said interview in Hausa BBC Service totally misrepresented the Archbishop by misquoting him.

'What we expect from Journalists is genuine reports based on truth and facts, which ought to promote public trust and confidence.  A hallmark of responsible journalism is that reporters ought to cross-check their facts before publishing them whereas reports based on falsehood, rumors and preconceived ideas such as this, are not only malicious but a calculated attempt to strain the good relationship between the Catholic Church and the leadership of CAN.'