A meeting between the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North and leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Abuja ended in a stalemate on Thursday in Abuja.
Newly re-elected CAN President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, did not hold back in his criticism of the timing of the meeting which he said was not only belated, but was an after-thought and kicked against the composition of the committee, saying it was lopsided, therefore, any recommendation made by it would not be credible nor acceptable to the Christian community.
Chairman of the committee and Minister of Special Duties, Barrister Tanimu Turaki (SAN), had while highlighting the committee’s terms of reference, solicited the support of CAN in the peace process.
He said, “We are not only soliciting your understanding, we are also seeking the support of the Christian community in Nigeria. We are not only soliciting your advice and suggestions, we are also fundamentally seeking your cooperation and that of the Christian community in Nigeria.”
According to Turaki, the meeting was meant to seek the input of CAN with a view to aggregating opinions and information that would form the basis of the committee’s recommendations to the Federal Government.
But in his response which took the committee members aback, Pastor Oritsejafor thanked the committee for the meeting but said the Christian community did not have confidence in the composition of the amnesty panel and as such would not accept any recommendation by it.
Information Nigeria notes that out of the 28 members of the committee, only five are Christians.
Oritsejafor said, “We note that the tenure given to your committee is 90 days, which will lapse in a few days time. This being the case, it is our considered opinion that your invitation to us is an afterthought.
“Having regard to the terms of reference of your committee in dealing with issues of national security and in accordance with section 10 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended and in view of the constitutional provision for federal character, we consider the composition of this committee lopsided and unacceptable.
“We further note that Boko Haram, having been declared a terrorist organisation and proscribed by the Federal Government, the work of your committee has been overtaken by events.
“From the aforementioned, it is our belief that any report emanating from your committee will not be credible and acceptable to the Christian community.”
A few minutes after the CAN President finished reading out the association’s position; the meeting drew to a close.
However, it was learnt that Turaki later apologised for meeting the association late, adding that the committee may seek extension of time from President Goodluck Jonathan.
Newly elected CAN Vice-President and Head of Baptist Convention, Rev. Dr. Olasupo Ayokunle; Primate of the Anglican Communion, Very Rev. Nicholas Okoh; CAN’s General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Musa Asake; representatives of the Christian Lawyers Fellowship Organisation of Nigeria among other national and state officials of CAN attended the meeting.