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The Christian Association of Nigeria and the firms operating the aircraft that was used to smuggle $9.3m cash from Nigeria to South Africa have absolved the CAN National President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, of involvement in the deal.
They argued that although the man of God had interest in Eagle Air Company, the owner of the aircraft used to take the money to South Africa, the firm had been leased to Green Coast Produce Limited since August 2, 2014.
The Director of National Issues in CAN, Mr. Sunny Oibe, in a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday said Oritsejafor was not an arms dealer.
The association also said the report carried by an online portal was sponsored by some members of the opposition political party because of Oritsejafor’s support for President Goodluck Jonathan.
The statement partly read, “The aircraft in question is owned by Eagle Air Company and the CAN President is an interested party in the company. Since August 2, 2014, this aircraft has been leased to Green Coast Produce Limited. They lease this aircraft and people rent it from them. All investigations about the plane should be directed to the management of Green Coast Produce Limited, a duly registered company. Further enquiries about this should be confirmed from Eagle Air Company which leased this Aircraft.
Also, a statement issued on behalf of Oritsejafor’s church and signed by one Mr. Bayo Adewole, corroborated this, adding that the aircraft, a Bombardier Challenger 600, Registration No N808HG) was owned by Eagle Air.
Adewola, however, added that Oritsejafor “holds a residual interest” in the company.
“On behalf of Pastor Oritsejafor, we can confirm that although he holds an interest in Eagle Air, the aircraft in question is not operated by Pastor Oritsejafor.”
Also, a statement signed by Mr. Emmanuel Ohaeri, on behalf of Eagle Air Company, directed all questions and issues regarding the aircraft to Green Coast Produce Limited.
Reacting, Green Coast Produce Limited said that they hired the jet to John Ishyaku, adding that it was within the industry practice to do so.
The company in a statement signed by Dr. Shima Adun, said, “A Bombardier Challenger 600 aircraft Registration No N808HG was leased to us on the August 2, 2014. We have since that time been running and managing charter services with the aircraft in accordance and compliance with global best practices.
“On September 5, 2014 the aircraft was hired from us by one John Ishyaku. The charter to John Ishyaku was upon the following documented terms, Depart Abuja-Johannesburg on September 5, 2014, return to Abuja on September 6, 2014, to wait and return with the passengers.
“The said terms are normative within the industry.
“As with every other aircraft charter company, our knowledge of the cargo carried on the aircraft was in accordance with the information provided by ABC Limited. All cargo were accompanied by passengers who could readily defend the contents. We are not and cannot be privy to any alleged extraneous cargo transported on the aircraft other than that declared in the agreed terms of hire.”
The company said it was not liable and could not be construed as a party to any alleged infractions, either in Nigeria or South Africa.
“We issue this statement without prejudice to any statutory or commissioned investigation being conducted or to be conducted in South Africa or Nigeria,” he said.
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