Archbishop rejects corruption charges

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh

The Primate of the Church of Nigeria has denounced as “satanic” the calls for the impeachment of the President of Nigeria after an Italian construction firm refurbished a church in the president’s home town.

Speaking to reporters last week, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh said the claim put forward by the opposition ACN party that there was an element of corruption in the refurbishment of a church was nonsense.

“The call for the impeachment of the president over the renovation of the church in his town is satanic and it is capable of causing religious bigotry which we don’t want. The ACN should apologise and retract the statement. We call on the National Assembly to disregard the call,” the archbishop said.

The ACN was wasting its time by pursuing a political vendetta against the president.  The Muslim-dominated party’s actions would serve only to flame religious tensions and did nothing to address the major issues facing the nation, he argued.

Speaking to reporters in Abuja after Easter services, the Archbishop said:

“It is not an issue, that church, I can renovate it myself, it was already built and the renovation of church can be done by either [the Italian construction company] or anybody.  People are looking for problem where there is none. The President doesn’t have to have a friend to renovate that church, since if anybody volunteered to do it, those people will receive blessing from God.”

“Those who are pointing to the renovation of the church, let them search their midst, there are logs in their eyes, not the speck in somebody’s eye,” the archbishop said.

In a statement published in the country’s major newspapers, the Italian construction firm noted that they had rebuilt the church as part of a The company said its act “of Corporate Social Responsibility is an established practice in our Mother country (Italy) and Italian firms in Nigeria have engaged in this practice rendering free construction, medical and advisory services as well as providing scholarships to various communities within Nigeria” since 2005.

It had refurbished the church in response to a “request by the Otuoke Community.”

It had not been “induced to do this act neither where we compensated for it by the Federal Government,” it said, adding that it had not been “awarded any major contracts under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan rather nearly all the projects being executed by the Company are from the previous administrations which are ongoing.”