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Church of Nigeria caught up in political bribery scandal: The Church of England Newspaper, April 13, 2012 p 6. April 18, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Corruption, Politics.
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The Church of Nigeria has been dragged into the corruption scandal that has pitted President Goodluck Jonathan and his People’s Democratic Party (PDP) against the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). On 2 April 2012 the ACN accused the president of corruption for allegedly soliciting a bribe from a foreign contractor, the Italian construction company Gitto Costruzioni Generali Nigeria Ltd.  (CGC) The alleged bribe was the gift of St Stephen’s Anglican Church built by the contractor in the president’s home town.

In a statement given to the press on 4 April 2012, presidential spokesman Reuben Abati stated that “a contractor who has worked and continues to work in Bayelsa State and other parts of Nigeria thought it fit, in fulfillment of its corporate social responsibility, to facilitate the renovation of the small church in the President’s home town of Otuoke.”

Mr. Abati said that the president however had never solicited or received a church as “bribe” from any contractor and that the building belonged to the Church of Nigeria, not the president. He added that the Anglican Bishop of Ogbia Diocese, Rt. Rev. James Oruwori, had also commended President Jonathan and his family “for building a house of prayer for the Lord”.

The ACN’s National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, responded that the president had been convicted out the mouth of his spokesman.

“Since the statements did not deny that the church in question was constructed or ‘renovated’ by a foreign construction firm taking contracts from the government and that the church is situated in the President’s community, and since they did not refute the statement credited to the President himself that he solicited and received the ‘gift’, then we are compelled to renew our call on the National Assembly to urgently launch impeachment proceedings against the President,” the ACN spokesman said.

“Shouldn’t the President see the obvious conflict of interest in a church where he worships being gratuitously renovated by a government contractor?” the ACN spokesman said.

But in an advertisement printed in the Nigeria press this week, the Italian construction firm said the renovation of the church was part of the corporation’s policy of being a good corporate citizen.

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.”  CGC “was not 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.”

“President Goodluck Jonathan did not solicit any gifts” from CGC, nor was “any gift received by President Goodluck Jonathan or on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan” from CGC, it said.

CGC “did not build a new church at Otuoke for President Jonathan or any other person. The fact of the matter is that the Company, as well as friends and well wishers of the community, were contacted during the burial of the late Pa Jonathan by the members of the community and parishioners of Otuoke to renovate the already existing church. To this end (GCG) responded to this request based on its strong Corporate Social Responsibility culture,” the company said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.