I was reading Feyi Fawehinmi’s most recent post about the possibility of a luxury tax, and this line jumped out at me:
Most of the owners of private jets in Nigeria for example, already use all sorts of sophisticated ownership structures to avoid the jets being traced back to them.
That line serves as the starting point for this train of thought.
Nearly all of you will be familiar with the case of $9.3 million being carried in a private jet to South Africa, allegedly to acquire weapons for Nigeria’s security agencies. That is, at least, what the Nigerian government would have us believe.
The excuse for such a crude way of conducting business was that the Americans refused to sell our government weapons, citing human rights issues and other concerns. It is not the first time such an excuse has been put forward.
It is clearly not the first time that money has been moved into South Africa in this manner, so we can only wonder what led to the cat being let out of the bag.
The private jet used in that ‘movement’ was leased by a company in which Oritsejafor has an interest. Combined with his closeness to the Presidency and the President, the choice to use a private jet and not any in the Presidential Air Fleet (for a supposedly legitimate arms deal), as well as the fact that these days, money can simply be wired from one central bank to another (again, because it is supposed to be legitimate), raises more questions than answers.
Those questions would need answering in a transparent manner, especially as we enter a period of increased political activity, an ongoing insurgency in the North East, continued militancy in the Niger Delta, a pervasive climate of insecurity that has never really left.
There are also lots of concerns about the readiness of our Armed Forces to defend our territory, and the tools they are given to carry out this task. None of these concerns have been definitively addressed, and rather than having influential members of society call for an investigation into this matter, we have this from Pastor Adeboye:
Pastor Ayodele Joseph Oritsejafor is a man of God I trust and I can personally vouch for him. I believe on the issue of his aircraft being chartered and the purpose it was used for he had no prior knowledge […] One anointed cannot attack another anointed. A pastor cannot attack another pastor. Touch not my anointed is what God said.
This kind of sentiment is a dangerous one, because we have heard it so many times before. In the Stella Oduah matter of procuring bullet proof vehicles, some quickly muddied the waters by saying it was because she was Igbo.
That is the way it goes whenever a public servant or someone in the public eye is supposed to be held to account or asked questions. It becomes an ‘us’ vs ‘them’ argument, effectively taking important questions and relegating them, in favour of creating a circus of endless accusations and counter-accusations on the pages of newspapers, and these days, social media.
Sundry issues of the state of Nigerian Pentecostalism, while important, are not the main issue here. The issue is that the connections between the principal actors involved are too close not to call for an investigation. That is what Pastor Adeboye should have done, were he to speak publicly, otherwise he may have decided to hold his peace on such a sensitive issue, while supporting his friend in private.
He has chosen not to hold his peace, and, while he is quite free to express himself in public, he should therefore be ready for whatever criticism will come his way.
The facts surrounding the seizure of that cash in a jet belonging to Oritsejafor, warrants questions which cannot just be waved away with the banality of ‘touch not my anointed’. Pastor Adeboye is not a judge, or a law enforcement agent. There are processes for determining the guilt or innocence of anyone, and none of those processes have been applied here. That is why people will continue to talk, and why some will now link him to Oritsejafor directly, in the absence of such a transparent process.
Rather than absolve his friend, Pastor Adeboye has now taken up the role of a ‘heat shield’, placing his credibility on the line for someone who, for all we know, is actively involved in arms smuggling.
But we may never know the truth, because no investigation has been, or will be, conducted. So we might as well take Pastor Adeboye’s word for it.