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Elections: Sokoto CAN alleges intimidation

By Sam Eyoboka
SOKOTO—THE stalemated Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, elections is taking a new dimension as some privileged officials at the CAN Secretariat are allegedly using police and SSS operatives to intimidate state branches of CAN in the North where loyalty is in doubt, to change their leadership on or before the next elections on June 21.
CAN’s  Secretary-General, Samuel Salifu,  is alleged as the brain-behind moves to use SSS operatives to hoodwink CAN leaders perceived to be opposed to a grand design to retain the current national leadership.

The elections which were earlier scheduled for last March were stalemated when the Senior Apostle S. O. Usu-led 15-member Electoral College set up to nominate two candidates out of the three eligible, disqualified PFN President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, from contesting for what they described as lack of consensus from his bloc, CPFN/PFN.

The dispute was referred to the National Executive Council, NEC, which ordered the electoral college to go ahead with the elections among the three candidates, but the college declined, insisting on a consensus candidature.

NEC thereafter referred the matter to the President-in-Council for its intervention and after the meeting last Monday, the church leaders directed the Most Rev. John Onaiyekan-led CAN to return to the status quo and constitute a fresh electoral college to conduct the elections among the three candidates on June 21.

The candidates include Onaiyekan, his deputy, Archbishop Daniel Okoh and Oritsejafor.

From Sokoto came the report that the state branch of the umbrella body of Christians has been under intense pressure from Salifu to conduct fresh elections on or before June 12. Following that intense pressure with the involvement of SSS operatives in the lobby, the Chairman and Secretary of the Sokoto CAN and Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Most Rev. Kavin Joseph Aje and Pastor Haruna Karatu have petitioned the National President of CAN, Most Rev. John Onaiyekan to call Salifu to order.

According to the petition which was also copied to the Director-General of SSS and the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo, the twosome frowned at the use of security operatives to prosecute a purely spiritual matter through intimidation and harassment.

They urged Onaiyekan to call the CAN Scribe to order because, according to them, Salifu is an employee of CAN and has no constitutional mandate to impose leaders on any of the CAN chapters.

The petitioners argued in the letter that Most Rev. Aje who doubles as the chairman of CAN North West zone is the only one empowered by the constitution to conduct election and has actually scheduled elections for September this year to re-organise the state branch in accordance with the newly adopted bye law.

According to the petitioners, Salifu is supposed to be an employee of CAN but most of the time he does so many things beyond his brief as an employee, because the current national president had given him so much room to operate and hence he is doing everything to maintain the status quo, adding that the secretary did not wield so much powers under Archbishop Peter Jasper Akinola.

They argue that if the National Secretariat is keen on organising elections in the Sokoto council, such elections should be done with due process and not under an atmosphere where some people are hounded around by security operatives acting under strict instructions.


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