CAN: Christian Association of Nigeria
But for divine intervention, the President of Christian Association of Nigeria, Dr. Samson Ayokunle and a number of officials of the body would have suffered attack and possibly killed by terrorists who laid ambush for them along Yola-Taraba road during their tour to some Northern states prior to the Easter holiday.
This was revealed by the Director on National Issues of CAN, Bishop Stephen Adegbite in Lagos during a special parley between CAN and the Christian Press Association of Nigeria on Tuesday May 28.
The event which held at Raddison Blu hotel, GRA, Lagos had in attendance CAN leadership in some states in the south west including The Lagos CAN chairman, Apostle Alex Bamgbola, The Ondo State Chairman, Dr. Ayo Oladapo, CAN Chairman Oyo State, Pastor Benjamin Akanmu, and Ekiti State CAN Chairman, Rev Rotimi Orikogbe. Others in the CAN team were Director of Ecumenism, CAN, Dr. Testimony Onifade and Bishop Theophilus Ajose a Lagos CAN official along with some other officials of the body. The theme of the meeting was Christian response to global persecution.
Adegbite who is also the Bishop of the Metropolitan Diocese of Ikeja of the Methodist Church of Nigeria talked about the miraculous escape from insurgents at the forum while commending Dr. Ayokunle for his sacrifice and labour of love since he came on board as the CAN president.
Giving insight to what happened, Adegbite said, “During the holy week, the CAN president, Dr. Samson Ayokunle along with some of us decided to visit some states in the North to render support and prayers. We went to Borno State and we were shocked to find out that in Borno State there were about 30 Internally Displaced Persons’ camp in that State alone. The situation we met on ground was pathetic. We were there to give support and also pray for the campers and we were to move to other states and repeat the same thing we did in Borno”
Unknown to the CAN team, Adegbite said, “We were being monitored by some armed people who knew our itinerary. They had laid ambush for us on the way from Yola to Taraba because they knew we could not go to Taraba by air. But as God would have it, the CAN vehicle we were travelling in developed fault. We had to disembark from the vehicle and joined public transport to Taraba. It was when we got to Taraba that we got information that the insurgents had attacked and killed about 30 people on that same road in frantic search of the CAN team.”
He said further that all this happened during the holy week of Christian fasting programme noting that what the team experienced in the North was quite pathetic. “What we saw at the IDP camps was appalling. The other states that were affected by insurgents had not less than 10 IDP camps while Borno alone had 30 camps. In each of these camps there were not less than 5000 people. It was that bad.”
While noting that the CAN president had been at the centre of ensuring the welfare of Christians and fighting for justice, he said, “Many of those who are causing distraction for CAN are deliberately being unfair. The position of the CAN president on issues of national interest and the common Christian interest is the position of CAN. The CAN president is not alone in decision making. The support he has received in the last three years is a consequence of his openness” he said.
Adegbite who pleaded with the church to lend support to the present leadership of CAN said the blackmail that is presently being hauled in the direction of the CAN president is due to his refusal to concede to some things that are not proper. “Many of these people are simply ignorant of the sacrifice of the president. That is why they keep spreading falsehood and misinformation. We pray that they will come to quick understanding and support the progressive work being done by the present CAN leadership.”
Earlier in his speech, Dr. Ayokunle had hinted how God has used him to steer the ship of the Christian body noting that he came to leadership of the CAN by revelation. He said God had shown him in a vision that he would lead the body long before he was elected pointing out that he had prayed against being elected but God did not hear that prayer.
He said to the gathering of the CPAN that the confidence he has is due to the hand of God in his election as the CAN president adding that the body would have achieved a lot more that what it had achieved if some people have not allowed themselves to be used to cause distraction.
Ayokunle who had suffered several media attacked said the first thing he did when he became CAN president was to ensure that the fallen wall of the ecumenical centre was rebuilt. “We had to raise money to build the collapsed wall when we came in. It cost us N23 million but we raised N28 million from some churches. Redeemed Christian Church of God gave us N8m, Baptist Convention gave us N10 million while the Salvation Ministry led by Pastor David Ibiyeomiye gave us N10m. We were able to build the wall and we put the remaining funds in the coffers of the CAN.”
He said the body was also for the first time able to train election monitors to monitor the last elections. “We were able to train about 2000 election observers in the last election. But INEC accredited 1048 of the 2000. CAN had the largest number of accredited observers. Our efforts in sensitizing the people made it possible for us to have increased number of registered voters in the south especially. We are grateful to Bishop David Oyedepo whose ministry made available N12M to support the work. The outcome of the election observers would be made public soon”
In his speech at the event the president of CPAN, Deacon Bola Adewara traced the history of Christian persecution to the time Jesus was here on earth noting that since that time till now, the church has suffered persecution from other ideologies and faith. He regretted the presence of many splinter groups in CAN urging the body to find a way to bring all the groups under one umbrella. He also took time to praise the effort of the present CAN leadership noting that his leadership style has put the body on an enviable footing noting however that some folks are bent on rubbishing the church.