written by Obinna Akukwe
Anarchy is looming in the polity as churches are determined to battle the Governor of Central Bank, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi over the freezing of the accounts of some Christian bodies. Following our earlier reports about the CBN’s freezing the accounts of churches until they meet some guidelines, under the guise of seeking for sponsors of terrorism and their laundering routes , churches in the Nigeria including those in the South East, South South and South West affected by the guidelines are poised to resist what they termed financial Islamization of Nigeria.
Rising from the State Ministers Conference of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on Thursday at Evangel House Enugu, the clerics resolved to resist attempts by the CBN to tag churches as sponsors of terrorism. Present at the meeting was the State Chairman of CAN Rev Prof Paul Emeka, South East Zonal Secretary, CAN, Apostle Ajujungwa, South East Chairman of CAN, Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma represented by Venerable V C Agbo, State Chairman of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) Bishop Obi Onubogu,Archbishop M.U. Ogo of Methodist Church, Archbishop A A Nwodika, Bishop Obiefuna and the speaker of Enugu State House of Assembly, Barrister Eugene Odoh.
The clergymen took turns to lament at why the CBN Governor is bent on pitching the Christians and Muslims of Nigeria on a war path and vowed to resist any attempt to mock them, including leading protests if possible. However, Sanusi’s policies had a support in the person of Methodist Archbishop of Enugu, Most Rev Ogo who posited that since churches started buying private jets instead of tending the flock, they have opened themselves up for governmental scrutiny. Archbishop Ogo was however shunned by other clergymen who reminded him that Sanusi had earlier attempted to impose Islamic Banking on the nation before the courts rejected the proposal. They were of the view that the CBN Governor was out to Islamize the nation through the back door.
In Umuahia last week the national leadership of CAN, after election of new officers, vowed to mobilize churches to resist the new move by Sanusi. Reports also indicated that other state chapters are sensitizing pastors on the issue. The national leadership of CAN held several meetings over the issue and asked those affected to forward their experiences to respective CAN State secretariat.
Investigations had shown that there were no intelligence reports from any sources linking churches to sponsorship of Boko Haram and therefore the reason why the CBN is bent on over heating the polity cannot be fathomed. The commercial banks specifically told the bishops, priests and pastors whose funds were trapped that the CBN directives was an efforts to fight terrorism. CAN was also piqued that their Muslim counterparts are withdrawing their money especially in the North East, North West and North Central without hindrances and decried the discriminatory application of rules.
The CBN earlier in the day issued a press release claiming that the Churches were not the target, but investigation had shown that Mosques and Muslim groups withdraw their money freely without restrictions and politically corrupt persons are freely withdrawing and transferring money while far away local churches with little funds is being bugged down by legalities. PFN chapters in States are finding it difficult withdrawing funds for programmes which normally holds between July and August and their efforts to explain to the banks that the group is a conglomerate of Pentecostal churches which elects new officers every three years fell on deaf ears.
Following the press denial of CBN that they did not order the freezing of church accounts, some churches tried to access their funds and were told by their banks that the CBN press release was a political statement, while others insisted that until they receive a circular to the contrary, they will not oblige. The churches have reported their experiences to CAN leadership.
In a related matter, security has been beefed up around the person of the National Chairman of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor following intelligence reports that there are plans to assassinate him by agents and sponsors of Boko Haram. Concerned clergymen have expressed sadness over the development which made it imperative for their leader to move about with military escorts. They asked their Muslim counterparts not to act in a manner capable of destroying the corporate unity of Nigeria .
As at press time, CAN leadership is preparing to challenge apex bank in court. They are also putting pressure on the presidency to call Sanusi to order. They insisted that churches were registered under Act C of the Companies and Allied Matters Decree which is for non-profit making organization and the CBN had mischievously lumped them under Act F which pertains to business entities. They also claimed that every church that has bank accounts were duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) under the said Act C, with lists of their board of trustees and constitution, therefore, asking them to furnish the banks with lists of directors and shareholders is a deliberate attempt by elements within the CBN to instigate anarchy and they are ready to battle Sanusi and the Central Bank over their frozen funds.