I read with much interest an article, entitled ‘Celestial Church of Christ Must know the Truth,’ authored by Senior Evangelist J. R. Omotosho, an Officer of the Order of the Niger, and published in the Saturday edition of The Nation on December 22, 2018. I read it with much interest for various reasons. I know the author in person and his person. I know him as a Superior Evangelist in the world of the Celestial Church and not as a Senior Evangelist. Consequently, I was compelled to seek an understanding of who has this identity again. When I espied the contents of the article, I discovered that it is the same Superior Evangelist John Rotimi Omotosho. Why has he chosen to be addressed as Senior Evangelist and not as Superior Evangelist which is more befitting and of a higher status? He meritoriously earned it more than four years ago. Since he opts to be addressed as a Senior Evangelist, I address him as such in establishing the aspects of untruths and half-truths in his Celestial Church of Christ (CCC) must know the truth,’ in this right of reply.

Secondly, I am not only the CCC Pastor-appointed Director of Public Relations for the CCC worldwide, but also a Member of and Secretary to the Board of Trustees of the CCC worldwide. In this capacity, I am necessarily a custodian of all relevant information about the CCC, as well as about developments in the Church. More so that Senior Evangelist Omotosho has mentioned names, including mine, there is the need to take interest in the article. In spite of this, it is not my intention to respond in my official capacity but on the basis of my name being consciously and maliciously defamed.

Thirdly, and perhaps more importantly, what appears to be or what constitutes the truth for Senior Evangelist is quite far from the truth. He has not only been acting on the basis of figment of imagination but has also presented to the Nigerian public only the half-truths. In giving the full truths of the matter, using the various documents he attached to his article, there is the need to go beyond economising the truths or making unscientific affirmations on the basis of half-truths. Hence, we will simply reply to the aspects of misinformation here, while the other matters are left to the court for determination. The issues in question are already under police investigation and court prosecution.

Untruths and Truths: The Dynamics of Omotosho’s Problem. Senior Evangelist Omotosho’s (a.k.a Jorotom’s) article is informed by three main dynamics. The first is his belief in a divine mandate for the CCC, which is to ‘ensure good direction, development, and peace for the Church.’ But in what capacity should the good direction, development and peace be? To be in a position to ensure compliance in any given stratum of society cannot but require the exercise of authority. Authority giving cannot but also be done in a vertical form and not horizontally. Compliance can only occur in a horizontal setting if much of persuasion and convincing arguments are allowed, without which the peers may find them difficult to accept. Jorotom never sees any goodness in the opinion of others. Explained differently, Jorotom has many people who are superior to him in the church and to whom he cannot give marching orders. In fact, he does not recognise that there are low and high spirits and that lower spirits submit to higher spirits. The Bible is very clear on this.

The second dynamic, and in the same vein, is the holier-or better-than-thou disposition of Senior Evangelist Omotosho in the various informal meetings of the CCC Board of Trustees. It is the version of his own argument or submission that was the only truth. Any opposition to his submission was always fraught with hostility. He always hid under the title of his OON to wrongly believe that whatever he says was correct and should be accepted by all others without query. Other members, in unison, did not always agree with this, hence Jorotom has been left fighting alone in whatever he considered necessary to be done in advancing the interests of the Church.

The third dynamic is his wrong belief that he has more right as a member of the CCC Board of Trustees than any other member. All members of the Board, seven in all, have equal stakes. In fact, the Constitution of the CCC provides that all the Trustees of the Church should be permanent members of the Pastor-in-Council but the appointment of any trustee is subject to the whims and caprices of the Pastor. The Board of Trustees, acting together, is the legal representative of the Church and the highest level of authority recognised by the Laws of Nigeria. The Constitution describes the Pastor as the Ultimate Spiritual Head of the Church. Many people misinterpret this to imply that the leadership is restricted only to spiritual headship of the Church. The Constitution should be rightly interpreted to mean that there can be many appointed representatives of the Pastor heading the organisation of some spiritual activities.

However, the ultimate head, in terms of structure of authority, is the Pastor, and that is in the person of Reverend Emmanuel Mobiyina Friday Oshoffa, the son of the founder of the CCC. The consensus is that the Pastor is the Head and overall Head of the Church in all ramifications. Section 108 of the CCC Constitution has it that ‘the Pastor as the ultimate Spiritual Head of the CCC worldwide, shall be vested with the sole ultimate and unchallengeable authority on all matters affecting church life, be it planning, organisation, doctrinal standards and the spread of doctrines, education, legislation or discipline, the provisions of the Constitution notwithstanding. ‘The problem with Jorotom is that, he is not only challenging this provision, but he is also doing so frontally and with uncivilised disrespect in his relationship with the Pastor. This is evident in his article. For instance, take a cursory look at his various pretensions in his article. He wrote that ‘(he) called for a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Church…’, that he had earlier summoned my fellow BOT members to a meeting in BABA BANJO’s house.’ The Pastor is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees. How can he summon a meeting of the Board without the blessing of the Pastor? The calls for meetings are illegal and this is one of the major reasons he has not been able to enjoy the support of other trustees. The Pastor is the only person who can direct me as the Secretary of the Board of Trustees to convene any formal meeting. The meetings referred to were, therefore, at best, informal consultations. Jorotom was told about this but he still prefers to unnecessarily arrogate to himself the powers that are not constitutionally provided for, and which all other members resisted. This is what the general public should first begin to understand in terms of his own version of the truth.

Which Truth Has He revealed? The first truth that Senior Evangelist Omotosho wants the public to know is that he is a good man working in the interest of the Church. I have no qualms about this. In the Celestial Church of Christ of today, the contributions of Senior Evangelist Omotosho and Superior Evangelist Pius Olarewaju are great and worthy of emulation. However, the contributions of Senior Evangelist Omotosho are indisputably coming behind those of Superior Evangelist Olarewaju. The contributions of Omotosho are generally known because of the publicity often attached to them and this is evident again in his article: recalling of funding; of the inauguration of Reverend Emmanuel Mobiyina Oshoffa; building of a ‘befitting office in Ketu in place of the old one which is far below the standard expected of the height of the Celestial Church of Christ,’ etc. Olarewaju has the non-noise making life-style, and therefore not many people know much about his contributions to the growth and development of the CCC. He has, for instance, built many CCC parishes in Nigeria and established many in Europe and America. He is currently building an international conference centre for the Church in Kilometre 53 along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

The Secretariat being built in Ketu by Omotosho does not compare well with what Olarewaju has put, and is currently putting in place. More interestingly, every 28-30 December, he holds a CCC revival crusade on the open fields of the Baptist Academy along Ikorodu Road. It is therefore very ridiculous to suggest that an Olarewaju who is donating money to grow the Church on daily basis is also stealing his own money. What will be the purpose for this? This question has to be raised because Omotosho says he has ‘inclination to fight this anomaly… (and that) except the needful is done now, Mobiyina, Pius and their cohorts will pull down the church and vandalize the good work of the pastor/founder.’ Omotosho does not need to fight for the Pastor/founder. He should be more concerned about the living, and not the Saint already living with God. And true, if we have to go beyond myopic bigotry, no individual will want to invest hard-won resources on the growth and development of a church and also at the same time be seeking to destroy his investments. The truth here is that Pius Olarewaju has shown the general public that he was a champion or winner in 2017 when he advised that there was the need to change the strategy of fund raising, the approach to building the CCC Cathedral that had been on-going for more than three decades. He also showed the world in 2018 that he is also an over-comer. This largely explains the success achieved within one year in the completion of the construction of the Cathedral, which has been restructured into a Basilica of first of its kind in Imeko, in Afon Local Government Area in Ogun State is now playing host to a World Celestial pilgrimage centre in the making. In fact, it is another Jerusalem in the making.

If by the divine mandate of Senior Evangelist Omotosho, he was told about the disapproval by God of the handling of Imeko project by Vita Construction Company,’ allegedly because of ‘the recent thunder strike which brought down the Imeko building,’ what’s the new message, on the basis of his ‘divine mandate,’ now that the Imeko building has not only been completed but was commissioned for use during the December 2018 Convocation? And more importantly, Senior Evangelist Omotosho wants to inform the public that he had instituted a court case in the Federal High Court against my person, Pius Olarewaju,and one other. The charges levied are those of ‘conspiracy, forgery, fraudulent and unlawful diversion of money.’ And perhaps most importantly, he wants to show that ‘Pius and his allies, rather than facing the charge filed against them, have been running helter skelter evading service of the charge on them and romancing high authorities to muffle the charge.’

The truths here are simple to understand and are not far-fetched. Senior Evangelist Omotosho does not need any public noise making for now. What he needs to do now is to seek to provide evidence of the documents forged, particulars of money diverted and the documents on which the forgery is located. Since the matter has been referred to the court, Jorotom should no longer be afraid of his own action. What the public should know is that Jorotom is only seeking cover up and survival, following his indictment by the Office of the Inspector General of Police. On two different occasions, all the various allegations levied against Pius Olarewaju, Bola Akinterinwa and others by Senior Evangelist Omotosho were already investigated and the Police gave a very clean bill in both cases to the accused. If, we, the accused, have not taken the matter to the extent of court prosecution, it is because the Pastor, Reverend Mobiyina Oshoffa, does not want any member of the Church to avenge for himself. He does not believe that Jorotom should be allowed to end up in jail. The Pastor strongly believes that Jorotom will sooner or later come back into his senses and rejoin his peers.

This is the bitter truth. Left to the accused, the story is different. What is noteworthy again, and perhaps disturbing, is that, the same Nigeria Police, which carried out investigations on Jorotom’s allegations and indicted the Imeko building committee, chaired by Senior Evangelist Omotosho, is the same Police that has charged us to court on the same allegations again after two separate investigations. When Jorotom came up with his first round of allegations, we were cleared. Jorotom alleged then that the Police had taken money from us. He petitioned the Inspector General of Police, who was prompted to setup another panel of investigators. The report of the second panel of investigators also threw Jorotom’s claims into the dustbin of history. Truth is indestructible. It can only be distorted. It is not known in history where any battle or war on the truth has succeeded. The police records are there for the general public to request for within the framework of the Public Information Act. Truth is constant. How the same Nigeria Police is again coming out to charge the accused of forgery, conspiracy, fraud, is what the Nigerian public should ask and also be more interested in. As the matter is before the court, I will not say more than this here.

On the issue of running helter-skelter, ‘evading service of the charge,’ the truth again is that I have been served court notice and summon and I signed for them. This, again, is verifiable. When a holder of a national honour, OON, has to descend so low to the extent of having to call what is green, white, and thereafter also frivolously making serious allegations based on assumptions, and even making judgmental conclusions before the court ever hears the case, there is the need to really query the basis of giving a national honour to people like Jorotom. Making confirmations on the basis of dreams or imaginations are not befitting of a holder of an OON. Pending the final determination of the matter in the court, I want to state categorically here that, if we are to count ten honest Nigerians, I am one of them. In my hand over note to the Office of President Muhammadu Buhari at the end of my tenure as Director General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs in 2015, I also clearly stated that I never stole any Government money and never allowed any room for stealing or public embezzlement and that if we were looking for ten honest Nigerians, I was undoubtedly one of them. I still remain the same Bola Akinterinwa. I am what I am today because I chose to be honest and patriotic. I fight societal ills tooth and nail with my very little resources. So, let us all wait for the court’s prosecution and pronouncement on the matter.

Meanwhile, I, and, in fact, Pius Olarewaju, without scintilla of doubt, hereby remain builders and not destroyers of the Church and are ready for any court prosecution because truth is constant, because we do not have any skeleton in our own cupboards, and most importantly, because the CCC, under the administration of Reverend Mobiyina Oshoffa, is witnessing unprecedented progress in all dimensions, many non-Africans are joining the Church in both Europe and America. Finally, Senior Evangelist Omotosho has published many documents on which he never made any comments. What really is the intent and purpose of publishing an avalanche of documents that cannot speak for themselves? Evidence giving should go beyond mere presentation of documents. The whole documents, to those who can espy them, only constitute an expression of myopia and self-indictment. No truth has actually been shown in his write-up. Jorotom should therefore stop frolicking around in the media with figments of imagination and allow both the court processes and judgments to prevail.

Professor Bola A. Akinterinwa, PhD Sorbonne, inma, fniia, fssan

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