Monday, September 22, 2014



Synagogue toll rises to 115

•Injured victims flown home
South Africans raised yesterday their death toll in the September 12 guest house collapse at the Synagogue of All Nations (SCOAN)  in Ikotun on the outskirts of Lagos to 115, up from 67 that was initially announced.
Twenty-five injured nationals receiving treatment in Lagos hospitals were yesterday flown back home. The C130plane carrying them landed at the Swartkop Air Force base in Pretoria at 10.42 am local time.
Three children, including an 18-month-old and a two-year-old – both of who had lost their parents in the collapsed building – were among the injured flown in.
It is believed that there were no fewer than 349 visiting South Africans in the church at the time of the collapse; 17 were declared unaccounted for. It is not clear if they are among the new list of the dead announced yesterday by  South African Government Minister Jeff Radebe.
The minister urged Nigeria to investigate the “tragedy”.
South Africans are angry at what they see as the Nigerian government dragging its feet on launching an investigation into the collapse, which occurred when three storeys were being added to the two-storey building, and for not reacting more quickly to help those trapped under the rubble.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) gave the final death toll at 90; 131 survived.
President Goodluck Jonathan visited the site on Saturday, offering his condolences to Church overseer Pastor T.B. Joshua, who has been the focus of South Africans’ anger after he described the victims as “martyrs of faith” on his Facebook page.
Joshua and his supporters described the collapse as an “attack” somehow linked to a mysterious aircraft they claimed flew over the building before it collapsed.
Radebe spent much of his news conference congratulating the work of South African emergency workers for the “biggest evacuation by the air force since the dawn of democracy”.
He did not mention the efforts of Nigerian emergency services or the church but said Nigeria was carrying out an investigation, although Jonathan has not announced any probe.
“We are keenly awaiting as a South African government the investigation that is being conducted by the Nigerian government so that we get to the bottom of the cause of … this national disaster,” Radebe said.
South Africa’s media has been scathing of Joshua and the Nigerian government, especially after the Nigerian emergency services said the church had failed to cooperate and had blocked rescuers’ access to the site.
“Blood on their hands” was the front page headline of South Africa’s Sunday Times. Many Nigerians have also been critical.
There was heavy police presence at the Swartkop base when the plane carrying the injured arrived.
Military personnel swiftly attended to them.
Shortly after the C130 SA Air Force plane landed at the Swartkop Air Force Base in Pretoria, an initial batch of the patients was whisked off to the hospital.
Most of the patients were brought out of the plane on stretchers and taken to ambulances parked nearby.
A woman in a red dress, supported by two soldiers, limped to one of the ambulances.
Others could also walk to the ambulances, with assistance.
A convoy of Tshwane metro police officers on motorbikes and SA Police Service vehicles escorted the first two ambulances from the military base shortly after 11am.
Members of a government inter-ministerial task force, led by Presidency Minister Jeff Radebe, approached the plane carrying the 26 injured South Africans after it landed.

NIGERIA IN THE EYES OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN MEDIA ... AS WE GO BUNGLING OVER THE SCOAN TRAGEDY : South African media hit Joshua, Nigeria hard ... TheNationNews

• South African soldiers helping  one of the victims of the Synagogue tragedy who returned to Pretoria...yesterday.   PHOTO: REUTERS
• South African soldiers helping one of the victims of the Synagogue tragedy who returned to Pretoria...yesterday. PHOTO: REUTERS

South African media hit Joshua, Nigeria hard

Since its compatriots died at the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), the South African media have come hard on the church, the federal and state governments as well as the rescue agencies, writes OLUKOREDE YISHAU
From Guardian & Mail to Sowetan and Sunday Times, South African newspapers have come hard on the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), its pastor, Prophet T.B. Joshua, the federal and state governments and the rescue agencies.  As far as they are concerned, the tragedy was handled with levity.
The Sunday Times, in a report titled ‘Blood on their hands’ said the management of the tragedy has been characterised by chaos, incompetence and lies.
“As the first full picture of the horror of the Nigerian church collapse surfaces, South Africans are left wondering how many lives could have been saved if Pastor TB Joshua’s church and Nigerian authorities had co-operated fully in rescue attempts,” the newspaper said.
South African Minister Jeff Radebe yesterday urged the Federal Government to investigate the “tragedy”. Radebe said 84 South Africans who were part of visiting church groups had died in the September 12 incident. He was speaking at an air force base north of Johannesburg where 25 South Africans who were injured returned for treatment.
Other newspapers, such as The City Press, also carpeted the Synagogue church for not co-operating with rescue agencies.
Mail & Guardian on Sunday, however, said the rescue efforts later improved, but it was too late.
Said the newspaper:  “Nigerian authorities and church members have made a U-turn on co-operating with South Africans at the collapsed guesthouse tragedy, following a diplomatic skirmish, which saw an entire week fritter away while vital efforts to save lives were blocked.
“A diplomatic source from South Africa confirmed that the Nigerian authorities have proven to be far more co-operative since Friday, a week after the devastating collapse that has seen the largest number of South Africans killed outside of the country since even the downing of the Helderberg airliner in 1987 which killed 71 South Africans.
“The stress on scarce skills in the field followed the shock decision by Nigerian authorities to turn down help from South Africa earlier in the week, including one of the continent’s best search and rescue teams.
“Search and Rescue South Africa was placed on standby by the department of international relations, Sunday Times reported, but by Sunday last week it was too late.
“Gift of the givers, a South African-based Islamic relief organisation, were initially blocked in their efforts to access mortuaries and hospitals in Lagos to find South African hurt and deceased South Africans.
“In addition, the crucial 24 hours after the collapse, when survivors could have been found in the rubble, was missed as information about the collapse was at a black-out with Nigerian authorities failing to communicate with their South African counterparts in time, and church staff and goers proving downright hostile.”
The paper said building collapses happen repeatedly in Nigeria “because of the use of substandard material and flouted construction regulations”.
Mail & Guardian added: “It is believed that the building was in the process of having additional stories added without first securing the foundations, although Joshua has blamed it on a mysterious attack, citing the appearance of an aircraft above the building shortly before the collapse.”
The South African Press Association, the country’s news agency, also did an unflattering profile of Prophet Joshua, which were run by some of the local newspapers. The profile said Joshua claims he has power to cure anything, from AIDS to cancer.
The papers also made a mince meat of Joshua’s wealth, quoting the Forbes’ list as their proof that he had made so much money from his work as a pastor. A report sought out a past visitor and got her to reveal that each person who came on her team of 150 paid R20,000 each to make the trip. The papers were, however, fair enough to   give space to people who also had good words to say about Joshua and the church.
One of such is opposition leader Julius Malema. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader said: “I am in touch with the elders of the church. They are doing everything in their power to ensure that every individual that was there is accounted for and that the rescue mission continues.”
Malema said despite what happened, Joshua remains a great man, who should continue to inspire hope. He said he was at Synagogue for seven days, adding that at the time, no less than 16 000 people were in attendance at the church “and 50 per cent of those were from outside Africa”.
He said: “Yes, I was there to create friendship and take lessons from the prophet. He is my brother, we talk now and then. I also received spiritual guidance from him. The church is very big, he has a lot of followers. He receives people from all corners of the world, both rich and poor. They go there for different reasons and they all want to be blessed by the man of God.
“When I was there, I was treated very well. The hospitality is so amazing. The people who looked after us there did it with passion. They love what they are doing and they respect people. We also would like to say to the prophet that he should find strength during this difficult time. This is a testing time for him.
“He is a very good man. He inspires hope in hopeless people. We hope he will not be discouraged. He must continue to inspire hope and feed the children of God. When I went to his church, he never asked for a cent from me. TB Joshua never preached about money and he never insisted on having contributions for the church.”
Another report queried the theory by Joshua that the building came down after an attack by Boko Haram, saying that the collapse was most likely caused by not following the standard.
The papers also focused on South African prominent citizens who have visited Joshua for one reason or the other. The legendary Ms Winnie Madikizela-Mandela ranks among South African powerful figures who have bowed before Joshua. She was interviewed on Joshua’s Emmanuel Tv in 2011 after her visit and she had nice words for the church.  Others include Springbok rugby players Joost van der Westhuizen, Ruben Kruger and Wium Basson, who died at his Pretoria home on April 21, 2001. He was 25. Basson, who played for the Blue Bulls, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Doctors could not do anything to help him and gave him a few weeks to live. He flew to Lagos, to consult Joshua. But, for some reason, he could not see Joshua after waiting for hours on a queue. He returned home and died almost immediately.
Kruger, who had a brain tumour, died in Pretoria in January 2010, after battling brain cancer for 10 years. His visit to Joshua could not save him.
An article by Jacques Pauw in City Press literally tore Joshua to pieces. Pauw had visited Synagogue once to do a documentary on the church and its pastor’s miracles. His findings did not support Joshua’s claims.
His words: “Ruben Kruger, a veteran of 36 tests in the green and gold, returned after a week in Nigeria and declared that a Pentecostal preacher he called the Prophet had healed his brain cancer.
“Temitope Balogun “TB” Joshua prayed for him in the Synagogue Church of All Nations compound while thousands of people sang, danced and wailed, Kruger said.
“As Joshua bent over him and implored the demon to be gone from his body, Kruger felt the tumour leaving him. He was cured, Joshua declared, handing him oil to rub on his head.
“I no longer have to drink my chemo pills,” Kruger said on his return. “You cannot describe the feeling to anyone who has not experienced it. It was an unbelievable – or should I say believable – experience.”
“The floodgates opened and the Prophet’s newest converts were white, mostly Afrikaans and relatively conservative. They swopped the NG and Hervormde churches for a Nigerian “turn-or-burn” approach to redemption.
“It took me some time to understand why the ­Afrikaner psyche found Joshua so irresistible. Why were they prepared to seek salvation in a ­country they perceived to be drowning in greed, ­political rot and economic decay?
“Christianity Nigerian-style was worlds apart from the chains and shackles of Calvinism. Joshua unchained them. He allowed them to worship with a gusto and fervour previously thought unseemly.
“That the new messiah was black and his church in Africa’s biggest and maddest metropolis only added to the allure.
“A year or two after Kruger returned from Lagos, I made the same journey. On the plane was another Springbok rugby ­player, 25-year-old lock Wium Basson, who was dying of liver cancer. He was accompanied by his mother, Cloeté Geldenhuys, and had to get special permission from SAA to make the journey.
“I was making a TV documentary and my challenge to Joshua was straightforward: allow me to film how you heal Basson. If you succeed, I promise I will show it to the world.
“When we arrived at Joshua’s compound, the TV team and I were in effect incarcerated. For two weeks, we were forbidden to leave the grounds.
“We were told we could not drink or smoke, and had to attend services and events with the pilgrims. While I stayed in a dormitory with other pilgrims, Wium and Cloeté set up camp in a private room.
“The church took away the young man’s morphine and pain pills. During our first interview, a softly spoken, affable Joshua said it would be easy to heal Wium because he had nothing but a “little sore” on his liver.
“At Sunday sermons, the afflicted lined up with placards stating what condition they needed healed. There were lines of people seeking a cure for HIV/Aids, ­cancer and heart conditions, business failures, wandering spouses and dull brains.
“A festive, almost joyous atmosphere filled the compound as churchgoers sang, clapped and danced. Evil spirits were cast out and those set free by the Prophet writhed in the dirt while vomiting out the demons.
“Joshua prayed for every person in the line and declared them all healed. He ordered them to stop using any medication and trust in God.
“Among the pilgrims was Capetonian John Rindel, who was suffering from full-blown Aids and already had dementia.
“He had arrived at the church several weeks before we did, was prayed for by Joshua and declared completely healed.
“He had stopped taking his medicine and showed remarkable improvement. Scientists refer to this as the “placebo effect” of faith healing. A patient can experience genuine pain relief and other ­symptomatic alleviation after being prayed for.
“The relief is short-lived and the patient soon returns to his original condition. The internet is filled with reports from organisations like the American Cancer Society and the British Medical Journal that found no evidence faith healing can cure physical ailments.
“On my request, Rindel agreed to go for two independent HIV/Aids tests when he returned to South Africa. Both showed he was still positive. He died a short while later.
“The BBC recently investigated the London branch of the church and reported that three women had died after being “healed” and told to stop taking their HIV/Aids medication.
“I challenged the pilgrims to provide me with medical proof that they had been healed. None did. Ruben Kruger died in 2010 just before his 40th birthday.
“And Wium Basson? Joshua never prayed for him. He said God had not sent him a message to do so. The young man left the church broken, disillusioned and at death’s door. He died a few days after returning to South Africa.
“Before I left the church, Joshua handed me, and the camera and sound people, thick envelopes full of hundred dollar notes. He wanted to be sure we’d produce a positive programme. We gave the envelopes back.
“A year or so after the programme aired – and generated a massive response from people who called us accusing Joshua of all sorts of misdeeds – the preacher produced a video of a 76-year-old South African man named Moses he said he’d brought back from the dead.
“Moses was among a group of South African pilgrims in Lagos when he had a heart attack in the dining room. Videos distributed around the world showed three pilgrims, one a doctor from Bloemfontein, trying to resuscitate Moses.
“They failed, the videos reported, and Moses was carried into another room. Joshua walked in, bent over him and commanded: “In the name of Jesus, rise!”
“Moses opened his eyes. It later emerged that Moses had been both alive and ­breathing when he was carried from the dining hall. He’d been resuscitated, not resurrected, and clever editing created a fake miracle.
“I understand the despair of terminally ill people and why they grasp at final straws. My father died of lung cancer and might well have made the journey to Lagos.
“I am just glad he is not here any more to become a victim of a ravenous tick that feasts on the blood of the ignorant, ­gullible and desperate.”
The South African media also granted space to many who have critical questions to ask about the tragedy. One of such is President of the Rhema Family Church and the co-chairman of the National Religious Leaders Council, Ray McCauley, who queried why information took late in coming.
He said: “We are in mourning and would not like to start pointing fingers. Be that as it may, we urge both our government and the Nigerian government to get to the bottom of this unfortunate incident so as to assist the families to bring closure to their pain by at least understanding what happened.”
Founder of Gift of Givers Imtiaz Sooliman also queried what he described as “the refusal of help by Nigeria”. He said his men were chased away from Synagogue when they tried to help. He said it was too late by the time officials started opening up to help from South Africa.
In all, the general opinion in South Africa, as portrayed by their media, is that the root of the matter should be determined. They obviously will be watching to see whether or not the matter will be swept under the carpet, like they claim Nigeria is used to.
With these loads of negative reports, what kind of reception awaits Joshua when he visits South Africa? He sure still has a large following, but the media will be waiting to pounce on him.

MORE SUCCESSES IN OUR WAR AGAINST TERROR ... BOKO HARAM BROUGHT TO HER KNEES : How Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau was killed – Investigations ... VanguardNews

Details of how Abubakar Shekau, the impostor and leader of the Boko Haram terrorist group lost his left in a shootout with Nigerian troops in Konduga on Wednesday Sept. 17 emerged yesterday with military sources disclosing that he met his waterloo in an ambush reminiscent of the type the sect had been using to hack down Nigerian troops.
Vanguard gathered that when the first attack on Konduga whereby hundreds of insurgents were taken unawares and killed after over seven hours of fighting and several of their colleagues, arms and ammunition captured, the military commanders strategically urged his captured members to send a message to Shekau that they (insurgents) have routed the troops.
Before the captured insurgents were urged to make the contact and deliver the message, the military commanders had promised them that their cooperation would play a role in the level of punishment to be meted to them after the battle hence they felt reassured.SHEKAU
Also, the captured insurgents had disclosed that Shekau usually moved in a convoy of cars painted in military colours while he sits in a MOWAG Armoured tank with Boko Haram inscription on its front.
When Shekau was contacted, his captured men spoke to him in Arabic, assuring him that they had taken over Konduga, thereby giving him the all clear to proceed from Sambisa Forest. To convince him further, a set of his men captured were told to sing the victory song in Kanuri language they normally sing at the background.
Having convinced himself that the messenger was his chief courier in such situation and the message is authentic, he and his followers made for Konduga, heavily armed with Anti-Aircraft weapons, General Purpose Machine Guns, several AK 47 rifles and other IEDS’.
However, on entering Konduga town, he and his followers were encircled by strategically placed and heavily armed Nigerian soldiers. Immediately he contacted the messenger and discovered that something was amiss, he ordered his followers to start shooting in all direction.
This spurred the Army Commanders to give the directive to open fire. When he discovered that the fire power of the Nigerian Army who used both Infantry and Artillery weaponry was overpowering that of his men, he jumped out of the MOWAG and made to escape.
But eagle-eyed Nigerian Soldiers spotted him and opened fire in him, shattering his legs in the process. It was learnt that he also received bullet wounds in other parts of his body leading to his bleeding to death.
Recall that Military sources had on Sunday night disclosed that Nigerian troops scored a strategic victory in the current battle against terrorists operating in the North East on September 17.
The sources noted that during a desperate attempt to capture Konduga in their delusion to eventually marching on and capturing Maiduguri, the man who had been mimicking Late Abubakar Shekau in recent videos was feared to have been finally killed.
The sources said, “It is getting more certain that the terrorists’ Commander who has been mimicking Shekau in those videos is the one killed in Konduga on September 17, 2014.”
Affirming the development, PRNigeria sources said the suspected demise of the Boko Haram leader is responsible for the scattering of the sect members in different independent locations in the neighbouring countries, especially in Cameroon noticed in recent days.
The security sources noted further that “the process of confirming that the dead body we have is the same as that character who has been posing as Shekau is ongoing” adding “He is definitely a prominent terrorist commander. I don’t want to say anything about this yet please.”
Another high ranking military source insisted that the resemblance is too striking to be a coincidence.
“They cited his facial marks, beards and teeth apart from the recovery by the Nigerian troops of some of the Armoured Vehicles and Hilux jeeps that had featured in previous videos of the prime suspect.
“The officers assured that the Defence Headquarters will soon address the nation after full investigation of their latest discovery”.
Meanwhile, the Defence headquarters yesterday dismissed insinuation that Cameroonian military personnel carried out raids on Boko Haram terrorists into border communities in Nigeria.
According to a report posted on its twitter handle, DHQ said “There was no raid whatsoever in any part of Nigeria’s territory in pursuit of terrorists as claimed in some reports allegedly quoting Cameroon military authorities”.
“All operations ongoing in the environs of Konduga & all associated border location within the country are completely being undertaken by Nigerian troops”

Sunday, September 21, 2014

FOR THE RECORDS ... A THOUGHT INSPIRING LETTER TO NIGERIAN CHRISTIANS : Opinion: CAN, Ayo Oritsejafor, And The Limit Of Ungodliness ... By Adeolu Ademoyo

Opinion: CAN, Ayo Oritsejafor, And The Limit Of Ungodliness
This is a letter to my Nigerian Christian Compatriots.
Dear Fellow Nigerian Christians,
I have decided to write to you today as a Christian and as a Nigerian. I will also like to put it on record that I am a Catholic.
I write to you on the recent activities of the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria-Mr. Ayo Oritsejafor. As you know, Mr. Oritsejafor is a pastor, a businessman with varied economic, commercial, business   interests who is also deeply invested in partisan politics on behalf of PDP and President Goodluck Jonathan.
Currently, one of his companies-Eagle Air Company- is involved in an unlawful and shady deal in South Africa the substance of which still remains a mystery waiting to be resolved. And this is the source of my concern, worry and public letter to you.
On September 5, 2014 two Nigerians and an Israeli citizen were caught in Lanseria International Airport Johannesburg airport trying to illegally move $9.3m into South Africa. They flew into Johannesburg in a private jet owned by Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and operated by his company-Eagle Air Company. It is curious that the Nigerian and South African authorities are yet to disclose the names of these two Nigerians. But they have quickly disclosed the name of the Israeli. The Israeli is Mr. Eyal Mesika
Here is the mystery. It is a basic aviation law that all travelers must disclose the amount of foreign currency on them if it is above a particular amount as stated in the country’s laws. Under South African law, the maximum you can bring into South Africa without disclosing it to aviation authority at point of entry is $2,300. Mr. Eyal Mesika, the Israeli and his yet to be named two Nigerian collaborators flew into South Africa in a private jet owned by CAN President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor with $9.3million.
They did not disclose this amount to the South African aviation authorities until they were caught. Under interrogation they disclosed that they were in South Africa to buy arms for the Nigerian government. The Nigerian government of President Jonathan has hurried in to add its weight to this claim.
Fellow Christians, but some questions remain. These questions if un-answered will forever tar the CAN President-Ayo Oritsejafor and by extension CAN itself and will bring CAN into a state of permanent disrepute under the leadership of Ayo Oritsejafor until he leaves. This is because when a President of an association speaks he/she speaks on behalf of the association. The moral face –or otherwise-of a president of an association is taken to be the public moral face of the association he/she speaks for.
Therefore the questions that bother me concern Christian ethics about truth and whether Ayo Oritsejafor CAN president and CAN leadership uphold (on this issue) basic Christian ethics we teach our children in bible classes on Sundays during mass, worship sessions and in preparation for Christian baptism and confirmation. In the church we hold and/ or ought to hold this basic Christian ethics as part of the foundation of our faith and secular lives.
One of my questions is: Is the private jet Bombardier Challenger 600 Registration No 8o8HG owned by Mr. Ayo Oritsejafor and his company the same plane Pastor Oritsejafor claimed an anonymous member of his church donated to him in 2012?
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, I am shakened, deeply worried and ethically troubled   by this. Please read Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor in November 2012 on the mystery, which surrounded a plane he said, was donated to him anonymously by church members. On this the Pastor (Ayo Oritsejafor) and man of God said:
“I’m not ashamed to own a plane, I think it is a necessity and not a luxury for some of us deeply involved in the work of God to own planes,” the pastor said. The Pastor said he did not know the church members who donated the jet, saying all he knew was that some members constituted a committee for the purpose and that his wife worked closely with the committee. He said members of the congregation decided to donate the jet after they became aware of the suffering he underwent whenever he travelled in and out of Nigeria preaching the gospel.
These are the Pastor’s words verbatim: “They (church members, the faithful) feel the pain I go through and they feel painful for not seeing me most of the time,” Mr. Oritsejafor explained. “They don’t like it, they are troubled. I know some people buy planes, I can’t buy plane. I can’t afford it. I don’t have that kind of money, (my emphasis) I still don’t know the people that bought this plane, but I know that there is a committee.”
The Pastor continued “Sometimes, my schedule is so complicated. Now, with this plane, it changes everything about my movements. Now, I can move, I can even go and come back home. It is a bit more convenient for me and I suspect that this is one of the reasons a lot of these other preachers have planes.”
Dear Christians, though this is painful as a Christian, because it concerns truth saying as part of Christian ethics, but I shall ignore the fact that Pastor Oritsejafor used his mouth to say that his wife worked with the committee members that anonymously donated the plane (which means the Pastor’s wife knew these committee members) but that he (Ayo Oritsejafor) did not know the committee members.
So? Sisters and brothers in Christ, Is the plane owned by Pastor Oritsejafor that was caught conducting illegal business in South Africa the same plane the Pastor said was donated to him anonymously to carry out his Christian ministry duties? If so, is flying $9.3million dollars to South Africa to allegedly buy arms a Christian missionary Godly duty the anonymous church members who donated the plane asked Pastor Oritsejafor to use it for? Is doing this covertly- because according Femi Fanikayode’s defense “we are in war situation” – carrying out God’s work on earth?
If it is not the same plane, does it mean that the Pastor has other planes other than the one he said church members donated to him anonymously? If so, does it mean Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor lied or forgot to say the whole truth when he said he did not have money to buy plane as quoted in his statement above? These questions bother me as a Christian because if Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor failed to properly explain these inconsistencies, it means he lied and this is a major violation of our Christian ethics. Hence, I am bothered deeply. Given Ayo Oritsejafor’s questionable ethics, I no longer know again how to stand before my children at home and talk Christian faith and ethics.
To have someone like Ayo Oritsejafor who shows up more as a business man and a politician than a Pastor and who does not hide his unchristian and un-religious partisanship on behalf of PDP and President Jonathan 2015 campaign does not help Nigeria. It does not help Christians. It does not help truth. It does not help   Christian ethics on which our faith stands.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ the government of President Jonathan has a history of dealing in a shadowy manner with modern day Israeli government, Israeli companies and Israeli citizens. In this shady and shadowy relationships President Jonathan and his fellow travelers deliberately mix up and muddle for effect (to confuse Nigerian Christians) the biblical Israel with the modern political state of Israel. The bad thing which ought to be unacceptable to any self respecting Nigerian Christian is that Ayo Oritsejafor brings CAN’s image into this shadowy and shady deals. It is not good. It is un-christian. It is un-Godly.
In this shadowy and shady deals, there are numerous examples out of which I will cite one. There was the case of the Israeli Internet security company-ELBIT Security System. It is not a coincidence that President Jonathan’ government deviously and covertly contracted ELBIT for espionage purposes in Nigeria –a contract which is unknown to any Nigerian law.
More importantly Nigerians did not know of this contract with this Israeli company until it was made public by a news paper-Premiumtimes. Also, there are two conflicting figures as to the cost of the contract, which allows public money to be stolen and privatized by all those involved.
Till today the mystery around ELBIT Internet Security systems and money paid to it remains a mystery that has been swept under the carpet. It is therefore not surprising that another Israeli citizen is involved with two Nigerians in another shadowy deal to allegedly buy arms in South Africa while using the plane owned by the CAN president-Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor.
Dear fellow Christians, of course CAN and other Nigerians such as Femi Fanikayode, have come out to defend Ayo Oritsejafor .
Femi Fanikayode wrote that the covert manner of using private jets to ferry cash in war situation to buy arms is normal. Femi Fanikayode’s defense follows Nigerian government’s jerky narrative on this immoral and dubious act. Femi’s analogy is a hopeless self-serving analogy that cannot stand the test of the actual situation of war. To try to explain-after the fact- a straightforward fraud, criminality and illegality in which the business company of the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Ayo Oritsejafor found itself as a covert operation in war situation is disingenuous and it deepens the fraud.
But more importantly Femi Fanikayode claimed to be speaking as a former minister of aviation and admitted that “Perhaps the only failing (in the $9.3million case) was the fact that the cash was not declared to South African Customs as is required by law.” The question is : Why was it not disclosed? Femi Fanikayode is claiming a patent criminality, fraud, illegality, violation of another country’s laws by Pastor Oritsejafor’s company in conjunction with the federal republic of Nigeria as “perhaps the only failing…”
Fellow Christians, if this is what Christian ethics is, if this is the way we as Christians will spin basic fraud to save the face of fellow Christian then we need to begin to examine the basis of our faith and how we practice it. If Femi Fanikayode is making this dubious defense then I have the following questions for him: Did he do the same thing when he was aviation minister? Did he use jets to ferry cash out of our country illegally and fraudulently? Could this be the basis of the money laundering charges against him by the EFCC? Pastors Femi Fanikayode and Ayo Oristejafor, is this Christian ethics?
Also, CAN came out in a shocking press statement by one Sunny Oibe   to absolve the CAN president. Sunny Oibe wrote under the office “Director of National Issues”(CAN). See Premiumtimes September 16, 2014. But how can CAN absolve CAN’s president when CAN’s president and his company are questionable parties to this can of worms? Sunny Oibe’s press statement absolving CAN’s president is an embarrassment to Nigerian Christians and our faith.
In a most brazen manner betraying Ayo Oristejafor’s use of CAN’s platform as a partisan tool on behalf of PDP and President Jonathan 2015 campaign Sunny Oibe rather than face their un-Godly, illegal and un-ethical practice,  called APC one of Nigeria’s national parties an “Islamic party”!
Of course, Sunny Oibe and Ayo Oritsejafor have rights to their political views. But it is unchristian, immoral and shameful to have used the platform of CAN for an open partisan purpose the way Ayo Oritsejafor and Sunny Oibe have done in that unfortunate statement. The way CAN is being used as a religious arm of PDP and President Jonathan’s 2015 campaign is morally shocking. It stinks
It is un-Christian for Ayo Oritsejafor to use CAN as a platform to disseminate his personal political choice. It is divisive. Our God is a God of unity. Therefore, Mr. Ayo Oritsejafor’s usage of CAN to advance the political fortunes of PDP and President Jonathan is un-Godly. And Nigerian Christians has the moral and religious obligation to respond to this and stop this continuous moral wreckage of our faith under Ayo Oritsejafor and as being burnished by people like Femi Fanikayode.
With the extreme partisanship which Ayo Oritsejafor has displayed, and given his company’s involvement in shady business deals including his being economical with the truth about ownership of planes, the only honorable path for him is to resign from CAN and save the public moral face of Christian faith in Nigeria from further embarrassment.
Beside having brought the image of CAN to disrepute through the yet to be explained mystery surrounding the illegal export of $9.3million to South Africa, the letter written on his behalf by Sunny Oibe absolving him is sufficient ground for his resignation. CAN has no business calling any party Christian or Islamic.
I leave this and Ayo Oritsejafor to our Christian consciences.
Yours in defense of our Christian faith.
Adeolu Ademoyo
Adeolu Ademoyo, of the Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY is a member of the editorial board of Premium Times.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

SWEET VICTORY OVER TERROR : Some Terrorists Surrender With Weapons In Konduga ... SEE PHOTOS HERE ... SaharaReporters

Following relentless onslaught by troops, many members of the Boko Haram terrorists group are beginning to surrender voluntarily. Some of them submitted themselves and their weapons to the leadership of the troops in Konduga during a further campaign at the weekend. The Defence Headquarters has tweeted that "as the heat on the terrorists continues, five terrorists surrendered on Saturday (September 20, 2014) with all their weapons to troops at Konduga, pleading for mercy."
Other captured terrorists who refused to surrender have also been giving useful information on the subsequent plans of the group in an apparent offer to cooperate.
In the last few days there have been several attempts by terrorists desperate to gain entry to Konduga, which the Nigerian troops, have continued to foil.
The PRNigeria gathered that the terrorists’ move was aimed at recovering the bodies of their prominent fighters who had died in the previous encounters in the area.
Meanwhile the Nigerian troops have recovered more weapons during the mopped up operations while some of their (terrorists') vehicles have been destroyed.

See attached some of the recent pictures from military operations.Arms surrendered by Boko Haram terrorists in KondugaAssorted arms surrendered by Boko Haram terrorists in KondugaOne of the terrorists vehicle captured by troopsKonduga residents of Konduga cheering the troopsSome of the terrorists vehicles destroyed in Konduga recently

FOR THE RECORDS ... WHO IS A MAN OF GOD? : What Man of God is Pastor Chris Oyakhilome? ... By Femi Aribisala

Femi Aribisala
If our marriage breaks down, we must not fool ourselves and others by insisting we are standing in the righteousness of God
Christian pastors have become demigods.  Their word is law; no questions asked.  As Jesus said, they teach as doctrines the commandments of men. (Matthew 15:9).  They come up with all kinds of self-serving principles that turn scripture on its head; just in order to justify themselves before men and control their lives.  I want to discuss Pastor Chris Oyakhilome.
Man of God
Pastor Chris is going through a rough patch at the moment.  His wife, Pastor Anita, has filed for divorce, accusing him of having inappropriate relationships with female church members, among other things.  Instead of waiting for his day in court, Pastor Chris has resorted to bogus interpretations of the scriptures; even proclaiming he is a “man of God” and therefore above sin.
Pastor Chris declared to his congregation through a live telecast: “There are preachers and there are men of God. I am not a preacher; I am a man of God, and I go in the way I’m asked to go. You have to understand something about a man of God. A man of God is not just someone who worships God or preaches God. A man of God is handpicked by God, set on course by God. If you study the scriptures, you will not find one man of God go against God, sinning against God.”
What nonsense!  Who made Pastor Chris a man of God?  From which school of theology did he get his sinless distinction?  John says: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10).
David was a “man of God.” (2 Chronicles 8:14).  Yet he committed adultery with Bathsheba.  Balaam was a “man of God;” yet he became apostate.  The “man of God” who came from Judah was killed by a lion because he sinned against God. (1 Kings 13:23-26).
But listen to what Pastor Chris says about himself: “We are not working in sin and living in sin and hoping that we can mix sin and righteousness together. We are the manifestation of his righteousness.”  This is standing logic on its head.  If our marriage breaks down, we must not fool ourselves and others by insisting like Pastor Chris that we are standing in the righteousness of God.  There is no righteousness in divorce.
False Christ
In the bid to justify himself, Pastor Chris is fabricating similarities between Jesus Christ and himself.  He said: “Jesus Christ was accused by many – a lot of frivolous charges. There will always be those who would like for it to be true. But you know, in spite of the accusations against Jesus, it didn’t change who he was.”
However, Pastor Chris is not Jesus.  Many accusations were indeed leveled against Jesus, but they were not made by his wife and they did not include inappropriate relationships with the opposite sex.
In short, Pastor Chris might be whoever he likes, but he is certainly not Jesus.  Jesus says: “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.” (John 5:31).
Yes, there are “men of God” in the Old Testament.  However, Jesus created no such distinction in the New Testament; we are all “children of God.”  Jesus says: “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3).  Indeed, Jesus was implacably opposed to men like Pastor Chris, who sit on pedestals and claim to be holier-than-thou.  He says:
“Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next.  They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend’.  Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that.  You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates.” (Matthew 23:5-8).
Male chauvinism
While Oyakhilome was busy elevating himself, he was also snidely putting down his wife.  He said: “If you are married to a man of God, it doesn’t make you automatically mature. You can make mistakes; you can do something that is wrong. But some people expect the wife of a minister to definitely be at the level of that minister.”
This is an arrogant statement.  What makes Oyakhilome more spiritually mature than his wife?  By what measure and by what criteria did he come to ascribe this superiority to himself?  Anita Oyakhilome was also a minister.  She was a so-called pastor of a London branch of Christ Embassy.  So why should Pastor Chris presume himself more “minister” than her.
If we are to accept Pastor Chris’ bogus self-appellation as a “man of God;” what disqualifies Anita from also being called a “woman of God?”  Are women inferior to men?  Oyakhilome said: “If a man of God is married, it doesn’t automatically mean that the wife of a man of God is therefore a woman of God. That’s not the way it is in the Bible.  That’s why you don’t really find the wives of men of God mentioned in the Bible…. You never find their names.”
What poppycock!  When one of the female pastors in his audience asked why the names of wives of the men of God were not mentioned in the bible; Oyakhilome’s response was a classic.  He exclaimed: “Why? You ask God when you find him. Ask God when you find him!”
But it was not God who fabricated this theory that the wife of a man of God cannot also be a woman of God simply because wives’ names are not mentioned in the bible.  It was Chris Oyakhilome.  Therefore, it is up to Chris Oyakhilome to provide us with another bogus explanation.
Pastor Chris ended his diatribe by saying: “When it comes to Reverend Anita, what I will say to you is ‘pray for her.’”  There is no doubt that, more than anybody else; it is Pastor Chris himself that is greatly in need of prayer.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

FOR THE RECORDS ... A SILENT THREAT TO SECURITY IN THE MAKING : Boko Haram: Why Borno residents are arming themselves ... SundayTrust

With dane guns, bows and arrows, people in Maiduguri and its environs have vowed to confront Boko Haram insurgents who have in the past year been unleashing terror on towns and villages. Weekly Trust reports.
Angered, frustrated and tired of the daring attacks by Boko Haram in Borno and neighboring states, people from various communities are increasingly becoming agitated. Many observers believe that the bold, but dangerous step taken by the residents in acquiring small arms stems from the protracted activities of the insurgents and the challenges they are posing for security forces.
During every attack, whether in the villages or towns, residents are at the receiving end and they pay with their lives, even as their means of livelihood suffer as well.
“Necessity is the mother of invention,” said Kolo Jarma, “We know we don’t have the AK-47 and other weapons that Boko Haram fighters have, but we have the heart, we also have dane guns, talismans and charms. And most importantly, we have God on our side,” Jarma, a local hunter, said.
In Nigeria, there are laws that proscribe illegal possession of arms and ammunitions even though the Boko Haram insurgents have amassed them. With no money or connections to acquire sophisticated arms legally, thousands of people, especially in Maiduguri, say with the few weapons they have, they are ready to protect themselves against the ravaging effects of Boko Haram’s machine guns, rocket propelled grenades, fully loaded AK-47 rifles and destructive Armoured Personnel Carriers.
‘Enough is enough’
According to many youths, if confronting Boko Haram in the bushes would mean “purifying” Borno and environs from the blood spilling, they are ready to put their lives on the line. Around May, 2013, youths rose in defence of Maiduguri metropolis and chased hundreds of insurgents out. But while the state capital enjoyed relative peace, hundreds of towns and villages in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States have come under severe attacks.
Youth Vigilantes, popularly known as ‘Civilian JTF’ in Maiduguri have in the past assisted security personnel to “flush out” Boko Haram sect members, a development that attracted the support of the Borno State government as well as the military and police establishments in the state. However, owing to increasing attacks in towns and villages in the last few weeks, it is now a common sight seeing not only the vigilantes but people from all walks of life brandishing all sorts of weapons like dane guns, daggers, cutlasses, swords, knives, bows and arrows on the streets, especially in the state capital.
At the inception of the ‘Civilian JTF’, most of them wielded only sticks and knives, but now that the fight is fiercer, many are taking extra measures to protect themselves.
Of blacksmiths and black markets
Weekly Trust investigations revealed that blacksmiths are now enjoying high patronage, doubling as gunsmiths of sorts. While only a few of them produce dane guns, a majority are into fabricating cutlasses, swords and others.  Sources say residents in Damboa are Dane gun specialists, but the destruction of the town by Boko Haram had crippled the business.
But that same business appears to be thriving in Maiduguri as many blacksmiths are learning the craft. Many of the gun-makers were sighted at Gamboru Market, Shehuri and other areas in Maiduguri. Some of them who spoke to Weekly Trust admitted that they now enjoy brisk business from non-Civilian JTF citizens.
Abatcha Kawu, a blacksmith at the Gamboru market, said he only serviced hunters who mostly come from villages, “But now members of the Civilian JTF also buy.”
 “Since I started this business many years ago, I have never enjoyed as much patronage as I am enjoying now due to the fight against the insurgents,” Kawu, who also make knives, swords and daggers, said.
At the market, our correspondents observed that the blacksmiths displayed cutlasses, swords and daggers but there were no dane guns on display, probably due to the security implication.
Another blacksmith, who gave his name as Buzu Dan Baiwa, said he only produces dane guns on request. Declaring youth vigilantes and hunters as his main clientele, he said many of them prefer pistols because they are cheaper than the larger versions.
 Price of self-protection
“The prices of the guns depend on the quality and size. A small one goes for between N15, 000 to N17,500 while the big ones go for N50,000 or more. They are expensive these days due to the high cost of the materials,” Baiwa added.
 Another blacksmith, Gunderi Mohammed, also declared gun-making as “good business” since the rise in profile of the Civilian JTF.
Gana Bukar, who mainly sells sharp metal weapons, said since last year when the youth vigilantes began to fight the insurgents, patronage has increased. “Also, with the recent threat that Maiduguri will be attacked, more customers have been coming to buy knives, cutlasses and swords,” he explained.
On the effectiveness of the weapons, some youth vigilante told Weekly Trust that are satisfactory. “Despite the superior weapons in the hands of Boko Haram, our local types still help protect us,” one Babakarami Ali said.
Safety is trending
The rush for dane guns heightened on Thursday when over 10,000 people including youth vigilantes, local hunters, retired military, police and para-military operatives, artisans and petty traders indicated interest in tackling Boko Haram head-on.
Armed with various local weapons, they gathered at the Ramat Square in Maiduguri, before they proceeded to the Palace of the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Garbai Al-Amin El-Kanemi where they sought for his blessing.
Reports suggest that insurgents are also perfecting plans to attack the state capital, prompting the resolve of the people to rise against the move. The angry residents also indicated readiness to storm Gwoza, Gamboru-Ngala, Dikwa, Bama, Banki and many other places.
The state Coordinator of the ‘Civilian JTF’, Mallam Abba Aji Kalli said he would be glad if the Federal Government will provide them with arms and logistics to carry out the operation. But he added that even if the assistance doesn’t come, they would not retreat. “The various groups you see here have vowed to go after the insurgents even if not well-armed. We are optimistic. We have done this before when Maiduguri was a theatre of mindless killings by Boko Haram. We chased them out of town, but they have regrouped and are now attacking people.”
Kalli added that his group is more motivated with the support from retired military men, local hunters and other citizens.
Royal seal
In his response, the Shehu of Borno gave them N1 million but called on the volunteers to always abide by the law. He was accompanied by the Waziri of Borno, Yarima Mukhtar, council members, district and village heads as well as courtiers. He commended the efforts of the group in tackling Boko Haram and urged them to always follow the directives of military authorities.
The Shehu said: “I want to thank you for this visit and the effort you are collectively and voluntarily doing in order to fight Boko Haram, who are bent on not only destroying our social and economic structures, but also innocent lives. I also want to appeal to you to desist from politics, religious or ethnic considerations. In anything you are doing, you must make sure that you consult all other security agencies so that you work hand-in hand to end terrorism.”
Treading with caution
Weekly Trust encountered some of the volunteers. Suleiman Abu, who was brandishing his double-barrelled local gun, said his weapon is “very effective”. He claimed to have killed many insurgents with it. “I’m proud that I have it,” he said.
Another youth, Kana Babagana, said with his locally-made gun, he could confront insurgents anywhere. “It’s sad that the authorities restrain us from outright confrontation,” he said.
Some ex-servicemen who spoke to Weekly Trust expressed readiness to join the fight against Boko Haram. Retired Sergeant Husseni Abatcha, who said he served in the Nigerian Army, said all they’re asking for is that the Federal Government should provide them with arms to fight.
 A senior security official in Maiduguri said though the people have the right to protect themselves, it will be foolhardy for them to take to the bushes with dane guns. “We would not encourage them to take law into their hands or to do something inimical to their safety. But we’ll give them every support provided that is not against rules of engagement. We are not relenting in our efforts to contain the insurgency and all shall be well very soon,” he said.
But for now, blacksmiths are smiling to the bank, while locally made and somewhat crude arms are trickling onto the streets. It remains to be seen if that trickle will feed into a flood and if that will help in any way stem the huge tide of Boko Haram.