Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has accused the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, of breaching the provisions of the Company and Allied Matters Act through the use of a private jet belonging to a company in which he had interest to smuggle $9.3m cash to South Africa.
Falana said by the provisions of CAMA, the jet which was allegedly registered for the facilitation of evangelism could not be leased to another company for commercial purpose, as CAN had said while defending Oritsejafor.
The lawyer said this in a paper he delivered at a seminar organised for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s prosecutors by the Justice Research Institute in Abuja.
He described as diversionary, the statement credited to CAN that the jet had been leased to another company, apparently to deny Oritsejafor’s involvement in the jet’s mission to South Africa.
He said, “Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, whose private jet was used to ferry the money to South Africa, has denounced those who have dared to challenge the involvement of a plane bought for evangelism in the alleged smuggling of laundered money.
“In spite of the diversionary statement of CAN, the influential pastor cannot dismiss the scandal with a wave of the hand. With respect, the explanation by CAN that the jet was leased to another company is an admission of the breach of the law.
“A jet registered for the facilitation of evangelism cannot be leased to another company for commercial purposes, as churches are registered under part C of the Company and Allied Matters Act as non-profit making organisations.”
He noted that many Nigerian pastors had been indicted in the United Kingdom for investing church funds in violation of the Charity Act.
He, therefore, said the CAN President should apologise to Nigerians if he was lucky to escape prosecution for a breach of the provisions of CAMA.
The lawyer said, “In recent time, some of our pastors have been indicted in the United Kingdom for investing church funds in business in violation of the Charity Act.
“If Pastor Oritsejafor is lucky that he is not prosecuted for breaching the CAMA, he owes Nigerians a public apology. The CAN leadership cannot afford to engage in attacking its political opponents in a matter pertaining to the breach of the law.”
Falana also called for the adoption of the recommendation of the National Conference that the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation should be separated from that of the Minister of Justice and those of the attorneys-general of various states be separated from that of the commissioners for justice.