CAN denies receiving N2bn largesse from Peter Obi, orders probe

peter obi

We’re being blackmailed, PCC laments

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), on Sunday, distanced itself from the alleged N2bn claimed to have been given by the presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi, to churches under its umbrella.

The Christian body also said it would probe the source of the petition, in which the allegation was made, describing its content as untrue and malicious.

The petition, allegedly written by one Pastor Frank Onwumere and dated December 15, 2022, was addressed to the CAN President.

The petitioner claimed that the N2bn was shared among some mega-churches while other denominations were sidelined.

But Onwumere, whose name appeared on the petition as the author, denied knowledge of the petition when contacted on Sunday.

Regardless, the President of CAN, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, strongly refuted the letter, saying the organisation did not receive any money from the LP standard bearer.

Okoh made the clarification in a statement titled, ‘Re: Petition on the misappropriation of N2bn given by the presidential candidate of Labour party, Mr Peter Obi, to churches under the umbrella of CAN.’

He said, “The attention of the national leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria has been drawn to a purported letter currently in circulation on the social media, alleging that a certain sum of N2bn was given by the presidential candidate of Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, to churches under the umbrella of CAN.

“I use this medium to categorically state that the so-called letter of petition reportedly signed by one Pastor Frank Onwumere and addressed to my office is illogical and can best be described as a failed attempt to drag the apex Christian body into the politics of 2023. However, we will investigate the source of the letter in the interest of the public.

“To set the records straight, I am not aware of any N2bn given to churches in Nigeria to mobilise votes for any 2023 presidential candidate and never received the said petition, dated December 22, 2022.’’

The Christian leader noted that CAN, as a faith-based entity, maintains its non-partisan stance and will not endorse or mobilise support for any candidate in the upcoming elections.

“CAN, therefore, urges members of the public to disregard the purported letter of petition as its content is not only untrue but also malicious,’’ he added.

When contacted by one of our correspondents, the alleged petitioner, Onwumere, denied knowledge of the petition, stressing that he had never had any meeting with Obi before.

He said, “I don’t know anything about it (petition). I have traversed the whole of Imo State without finding the person behind it. I don’t even own a church. I have never met Peter Obi before.

“Apart from seeing Obi on television screen, I have never had any private meeting with Peter Obi before. I will address a press conference on Monday (today) to address this issue. My enemies are behind this forgery of my name and phone number.”

Also, the media team of the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign described the purported claims of N2bn largesse as a “propaganda material” designed to injure the rising political profile of Obi.

In a statement on Sunday, the Head, Media, Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign, Diran Boniface, said the allegation was the ‘killer punch’ the LP had earlier warned Nigerians that the opposition was planning in their attempt to discredit Obi.

He said, “Recall that on February 6, 2023, the Obi-Datti Media Office, acting on credible intelligence, alerted the nation to a grand design to fatally injure the rising political profile of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, with what they called a ‘killer punch’ propaganda material.

“We hinted that the so-called ‘killer punch’ will come in various forms, including but not limited to a documentary portraying Obi in various negative lights.

Election day

“But as election day draws nearer and the victory of their ‘unwanted’ Obi looks real, the anger and frustration of some dubious characters have increased. We are even beginning to notice some state of despair which is resulting in senseless violence and blackmail all aimed at distracting and removing the candidate’s eyes already glued to the ball.”

Similarly, the National Secretary of Labour Party, Umar Farouk, debunked the claim that Obi doled out N2bn to the CAN or any other religious body.

While saying the allegation was unfortunate, Farouk fingered the opposition as being behind the fake news.

He said, “Of course, it is a lie and CAN itself has disputed it. It has written to debunk it. Even you people in the media know this is not true.

“The Labour Party has denied this completely. There is no iota of truth in that report. Instead of Peter Obi giving out money, it is even the people contributing to support his campaign. It is the figment of imagination of the writer.

“We are suspecting the opposition as the brain behind this fake news, which is very unfortunate. They have been trying to bring us down after they have done their ‘Muslim-Muslim ticket’, they are now turning attention to the churches.

“Who asked them to do Muslim-Muslim ticket? Look, I am a Muslim, I go to a mosque and talk to my people to vote for Peter Obi. All they can do in their own case is to seek ways to blackmail the church. They are doing themselves more harm than good.

“Our supporters have already made up their minds that they want to vote for Obi. We are just about 13 days away from the election. So we are good to go. They already have the record of sponsoring fake pastors to events.”

Also, reacting, the CAN in Imo State said the address of the petitioner’s church did not exist.

The Chairman of CAN in Imo State, Divine Eches, said, “We would want to state categorically that the said church is not in Imo State and the said Plot 35 Okigwe Road cannot be located in the search we have conducted this (Sunday) afternoon with about 20 able youth leaders from the beginning of Okigwe Road Owerri to the end.”