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Onaiyekan, Oyedepo, 2 others meet Yar’Adua

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Bishop Oyedepo, Most Rev. Onaiyekan and President Yar'Adua

*Shake hands and pray for him

*I have no comment for the Press — Onaiyekan

By Sam Eyoboka

ABUJA—ONE week after the visit of some Muslim clerics to the ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua, Christian leaders, yesterday, visited the Aso Rock to pray with the president.

Reports reaching our newsroom last night said the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, President and Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Most Rev. John Onaiyakan, Presiding Bishop of Living Faith Church, Bishop David Oyedepo, Rev. Emmanuel Kure from Southern Kaduna and the erstwhile Aso Rock Chaplain, Prof Yusuf Obaje were the visitors to the president.

According to the report, they arrived Aso Rck at about 4.30 p.m. and as it happened during the Muslim clerics’ visit, they prayed with the President for quick recovery.

Our source said the visitors shook hands with the president who was said to be sitting besides his wife at the time of the visit and after the prayers they again shook hands with him before leaving.

It was not immediately clear if there was any exchange of words between the visitors and the President but our source said the man was in high spirit and made efforts to thank his visitors for their continued prayers for him and the nation.

Earlier in the day there were speculations that efforts to get the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye and the PFN President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor to be part of the visit flopped because of some logistic problems.

The development led to an alternative arrangement by the Yar’Adua group to arrange for another batch of clerics to visit Aso Rock.

When Vanguard yesterday contacted  the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, President and Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Most Rev. John Onaiyakan, on the reported visit to the ailing President , the clergyman said he had no comment for the press.

The president has not been seen in public since November 23 last year.

The nation was jolted last week with the reports that four Muslim clerics including the Chief Imam of Abuja, visited the President and prayed with him.

Ustaz Mohammed’s BBC interview

It will be recalled that three Islamic clerics led by the Chief Imam of the National Mosque in Abuja, Ustaz Musa Mohammed, visited President Umaru Yar’Adua last week and in an interview with BBC said the man could not speak coherently.

Ustaz Mohammed, however, expressed optimism that Yar’Adua may resume duties soon, as “he has improved remarkably.”

He said the Pesident sat down when they were with him and was dressed in jumper and trousers with a cap to match. Besides, the Islamic leader who said that he was on the visit together with Dr. Datti Ibrahim Ahmad, President of the Supreme Council of Sharia in Nigeria and one Sheik Musa Pantami, explained that they sought permission from the President’s family to see the ailing President and not that they were invited to see him.

He said: “We met him sitting down with his wife while his ADC stood behind him. Although we could not hear what he said, from where we sat, we could see his mouth saying Amen, together with us when we prayed for him. In fact, contrary to rumours that he was seriously ill, we saw that he had improved tremendously and we believe he would be able to resume work any moment from now.”

Another of the clerics, Dr. Ibrahim Datti Ahmad told newspapers that though Yar’Adua shook hands with them and prayed together with them, he didn’t talk to them.

Dr. Ahmad, who is the President of the Supreme Council of Sharia in Nigeria, SCSN, warned that Yar’Adua’s powers must not be taken away from him.

He told newsmen: “We met the President around 5.00 p.m. late in the afternoon. Contrary to what some people have been saying, the President is not in a situation where he is almost dead; he is only sick.

“He was sitting on a dinning chair when we came in and met him. He was not being supported by anybody but himself, he was sitting down calmly. He did not look like someone who is almost dead.

“When we entered, we were not sure of what we were going to meet. So we entered and stood at a respectable distance and greeted him. He extended his hand to us and we shook it one by one. This is contrary to the views of those who keep saying he doesn’t know where he is.

“After that, we prayed for his health. He joined us in the prayers, raising his hands the way we raised our own; his lips were moving. When we finished, we told him we only came to greet him. He shook hands with us.”

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