Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, on Monday faulted the attempt by the President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, to wash his hands off the controversy surrounding the use of his private jet to allegedly smuggling $9.3 million cash into South Africa, saying the cleric breached the law.
Although Oritsejafor has denounced the two Nigerians and an Israeli arrested in connection with the money and the purpose of their mission to South Africa, Falana insisted that the influential pastor cannot dismiss the scandal with a wave of the hand, adding, “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”.
In a statement issued in Lagos, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria pointed out that the explanation by Oritsejafor that the jet was leased to another company is an admission of the breach of the law.
He said, “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 (CAMA) as non-profit making organizations.
“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, who also noted that the federal government is presently relying on diplomatic resolution of the money laundering case, stressed that such effort will not yield any result.
“Having not learnt any lesson from the disgraceful case of Chief James Ibori, the federal government is currently embroiled in an unnecessary controversy with South Africa over the arrest of two Nigerians and an Israeli for smuggling the sum of $9.3 million into that country.
“The three suspects are alleged to have contravened the provisions of Section 30 of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act NO 38 of 2001 of South Africa which stipulates that a person intending to convey an amount of cash in excess of the prescribed sum of $10,000.00 to or from South Africa must report the prescribed particulars concerning that conveyance to a person authorized by the minister for this purpose”.