The long political crisis in the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has finally forced the religious body’s northern members out.
CAN, the supposed umbrella body and major mouthpiece of Christians in the country, has been weighed down by its alleged involvement in the country’s politics as well as an internal leadership crisis. Supo Ayokunle has been rejected as CAN president. The 19 branches of the association in the north had recently rejected the new president, Reverend Supo Ayokunle, arguing that his emergence was masterminded by his immediate predecessor, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor. Oritsejafor was alleged to have edged out Christians in the north during the election that produced Ayokunle. He has not made any official statement on the allegation since it was made, but the southern branches of the association denied that the election was flawed. CAN in the 17 southern states said through its secretary, Dr Joseph Ajujungwa, that there was no crisis in CAN over the election describing the northern clerics’ statement as great fallacy and falsehood personified. In a statement by the northern Christians under the aegis of the Concerned Christians of Nigeria and Northern Nigerian Christians, the clerics said they decided to break away because of recent political happenings and corruption in the association. They said they had been forced to revert to the pre-independence Northern Nigerian Christian Association (NNCA). In the statement signed in Jos, Plateau state by Reverend Luka Shehu of Concerned Christians of Nigeria and Hon Peter Luka of Northern Nigerian Christians, they said their action became necessary because of the “travesty of justice, lies and manipulation” which produced Ayokunle as CAN president. They also accused the leadership of the association of various acts of corruption and neglect of the branches in the north. The statement said: “Considering our common shared values and peculiarities as Christians from CAN and after wide consultation among Christian leaders, traditional rulers, youths and women, we under these auspices from the north have unanimously decided to revert to the pre-independence Northern Nigeria Christian Association.” The clergymen alleged that several billions of naira had been donated to CAN both within and outside Nigeria, but that the body cannot account for the money. The new body for the northern Christians are commencing registration with the headquarters to be located in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.