By Sam Eyoboka
THE election for the presidency of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has assumed a new twist as the outgoing President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor is said to have summoned a meeting of the President-in-Council, PIC, for tomorrow amidst reports that the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, CSN, has threatened to pull out of CAN.
Feelers indicated that Dr. Jeremiah Gado, the candidate of TEKAN/ECWA bloc and alleged government candidate for the CAN presidency, has approached an Abuja High Court for unlawful denial as a candidate in the election. It was learnt that the TEKAN/ECWA candidate was actually looking for an interim injunction to stop the election but the court refused to grant the request. The court instead asked that the parties be put on notice and served to enable them appear before it on Tuesday. A reliable source close to the umbrella body of Christians confirmed the development, saying Gado had approached the court seeking to address his undue denial as a candidate for the presidential election and some other issues.
According to the schedule of events, the election of a new President to succeed Oritsejafor is billed for Tuesday by the 309 members of the CAN, NEC. The Electoral College has screened the only two candidates —Rev. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle of the Baptist Convention, who polled eight votes, and Prof. Joseph Otubu of the Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC), who scored two votes.
According to the Constitution of CAN, the Electoral College, headed by erstwhile Chaplain to two Nigerian presidents and Head, Aso Rock Villa Chapel, Rev. William Okoye, was expected to screen the nominated candidates and recommend two of them for the National Executive Council for election. The Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, CSN and the Christian Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria/Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, CPFN/PFN, which nominated the outgoing president, did not present candidates for the election.
Following the unresolved dispute in the TEKAN/ECWA bloc the number of candidates for the CAN president was reduced to just two which, some now reason, should have made the Electoral College to recommend the two to NEC for the election.
Meanwhile there were indications last night that the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, CSN, has threatened to severe relationship with CAN, unless the impasse is resolved and adequate opportunity is given to every candidate who had indicated interest in the presidential contest.
Details were sketchy but the CSN was said to have threatened that they would pull out of CAN if the election was not cancelled. Our source, who said it was still top secret as at yesterday evening, claimed that the Catholic Secretariat, making up one bloc of CAN, had sent in a letter demanding that the election was cancelled…”because indirectly they are looking for an ECWA man to lead CAN.”