The Niger State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has suspended its Secretary, Pastor Raphael Opawoye.
In a press statement made available to newsmen by the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to CAN chairman, Mr. Dan Atori, the secretary was suspended for alleged insubordination and misrepresenting the association, which were against its principles and values.
The suspension letter signed by the state Acting Secretary of the association, Very Revd. Goodseed Ekeleme, read in part: “Since your nomination and confirmation as CAN Secretary, you have consistently acted contrary to our stated guidelines, often acting alone and without authorization from the executive body.
“Over the past year, we have brought to your awareness patterns of behaviour and activities of yourself, which have continued to prove detrimental to the growth of CAN in Niger State and jeopardise our integrity as followers of Jesus Christ.
“You have, however, continued to disregard our efforts and entreat us to act based on our shared call.
“Where you have been given clear instructions regarding specific assignments, you have repeatedly disregarded either verbal or written guidelines, choosing instead your personal interest over the interest of CAN, thereby misrepresenting and jeopardising the common goal and good of the entire CAN. “
The letter also stated that the secretary had severally concealed the truth and exhibited acts of insubordination with total disregard for the constituted authority and with reckless abandon.
While disclosing that the actions of the secretary have reflected negatively on CAN, the religious body said, “After prayerful and careful deliberations, we have decided to suspend you from your role as Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Niger State Chapter, indefinitely with immediate effect.
“You are hereby asked to desist from speaking for or acting on behalf of the Niger State CAN in any capacity, no matter how minuscule”.
Furthermore, the body, while saying it had notified the Organisation of African Instituted Churches, the bloc where the Secretary represents, urged them to send a replacement as soon as possible.
The Niger State Government has paid the sum of ₦20 million in fines and compensations to secure the freedom of 81 inmates across eight Correctional centres in the state.
The state Governor, Hon. Mohammed Umaru Bago, who was represented by his Deputy, Comrade Yakubu Garba, at a mini-ceremony at the Minna Medium Correctional Custodial Centre (old prison) to complete the process of freeing the lucky inmates, said his administration had sworn to uphold and protect the interests of all, irrespective of their status in society.
The Governor, who was emotional seeing young, vibrant youths who were supposed to be the future leaders of the state in such a situation, said what mattered most was their integration back into society as the correctional centre had reformed and rehabilitated the freed inmates while the government secured their freedom.
While calling for proper integration of the discharged inmates by members of their respective communities without any form of stigmatisation, he equally urged them to utilise their freedom by being law-abiding citizens and desist from any act that would bring them back to the correctional centre.
"This is the first offence committed by these young chaps; we have to give them the amnesty to go back to society after reforming for some time so that they can have a second thought about their behaviours.
"The process of integration has been taken care of by the officers at the correction centres; what now remains is for them to go back to the communities.
"The communities should accept them without stigmatisation and reintroduce the home training that was lacking in them and led them to these vices, so that they can have a better stay with us," said the governor.
In his remarks, the state Comptroller of the Nigeria Correctional Centre, Niger State Command, Salman Abdulkadir, disclosed that the process of securing the freedom of the inmates, who were about 81 from across eight correctional centres in the state, started with the immediate past administration about two years ago.
He said the present administration of Hon. Umaru Bago obliged after explaining the importance of the amnesty to the Governor and appreciated the state government for giving the freed inmates a second chance to live a free life.
He equally said the gesture will help in decongesting the correctional centres, appealing to organisations and good-spirited individuals to also emulate the state government’s gesture, as according to him, there were a lot of inmates whose cases were minimal but could not secure their freedom.
The Comptroller also disclosed that the inmates have been reformed and rehabilitated by their officers, urged society to accept them back without stigmatisation, and pleaded with the freed inmates to go and live a normal life and desist from any act that could bring them back to the correctional centre.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Political Affairs, Hajiya Aishatu Usman, said the state Governor approved the payment for the release of the inmates from eight correctional centres in the state.
She said their release was in line with the power of the Prerogative of Mercy as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
One of the discharged inmates, Danjuma Dankambari, who spoke on behalf of the freed inmates, appreciated the state governor, Hon. Umar Bago, for his kind gesture and promised to be a law-abiding and better citizen.