Touch not my anointed” is a popular argument amongst Christian adherents – especially of Pentecostal persuasion – every time someone threatens the bubble of invincibility built around their spiritual leaders.
Those four words, taken from the Holy Bible, and shamelessly mangled out of context, are supposed to mean one thing: that God’s servants, by virtue of their “calling” and “anointing”, are above criticism, censure and accountability.
When, last week, a young Nigerian woman posted on the internet an account of how she was allegedly emotionally manipulated and seduced by a rather high-profile Nigerian pastor (whom she named; she herself was not anonymous), many of the comments that followed in defence of the Pastor were based, not on a desire to know/find the truth, but on the belief that she, as a member of the flock, should not have tried to publicly call out a servant of God the way she did. In other words: It is simply not done.
It was a similar reaction that followed the widely publicised video clip in which another servant of God publicly slapped a teenage girl, on the grounds of witchcraft. Anyone who publicly condemned that action was subjected to open hostility from those who firmly believe that it is not in the place of any human to question someone whose calling derives from divine agency. Regard that stance as a theological form of the controversial constitutional immunity that our politicians have since learned to abuse; existing to protect anyone who claims to be a servant of God from having to account to anyone but God.
It is an ‘immunity’ I find problematic, and, frankly, unacceptable; I believe that no amount of spiritual gifting or authority should obviate the need for accountability by all who claim to derive their authority and standing from the name of God.
There are lessons to be learned from the child abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church for years. As much as the church tried to cover up and dissemble – and that is not surprising – the sort of secular and legal scrutiny that followed ensured that in a lot of cases the truth came out.
If someone who claims to be a servant of God acts in a manner incompatible with the dictates of their religion, they deserve to be called out the way we would call anybody else out. If they break the laws of the land, they deserve, like everyone else, to face the music. That is the harsh lesson that a number of Nigerian preachers have learnt in recent years – that much of the stuff that people get away with in Nigeria – because of a general penchant for lawlessness, and a tendency for people to hide behind God’s name – ought to be unacceptable in any country that firmly believes in the rule of law and the significance of accountability.
One fascinating example of the pervasive immunity mentality comes from an essay by the writer, Yemisi Ogbe, titled ‘Men of God as Superstars.’ It is a brilliant deconstruction of Nigerian church mentality from someone with the privileged perspective of an insider.
She writes about a book, titled ‘Loyalty and Disloyalty’, written years ago by a Ghanaian preacher which emphasizes the danger of being a “rebel” within the House of God – rebel defined, of course, from the perspective of the Overlord: anyone who commits the unforgivable sin of adopting a questioning stance. By these standards, rebellion is akin to witchcraft, and deserving of nothing less than “execution.”
This is the book’s message for all “rebels”: “God will divinely, displace and replace you with someone else. Your seat will be taken by another who is worthier than you. You will be banished into obscurity and oblivion. There will be a curse on you and your family.”
Who wants to go up against a curse placed in the name of God?
Place that within the context of Nigeria, home to a people who, for all our unruliness (evident in airport terminals around the world), are given to a lot of ridiculously servile behavior.
You have to wonder why Nigerians aren’t doing a better job of questioning all forms of abuse of authority – secular or religious; corporate or public.
Nigerian Christians ought go to church not only with their hearts but with their minds as well, and seek to occupy that uncomfortable space where faith, whilst remaining fully vested in the divine, also takes full account of the existence – and importance – of rationality.
It is that rationality that reminds us to shun all foolishly simplistic doctrines, for example the one implies that if you faithfully serve God (which more often than not means paying tithes and offerings) you will come to no harm, live and die wealthy, avoid sickness – and that if all is not well with your life it has to be because you’re not giving enough, or attending church enough.
I think many of our spiritual overlords are seeking to have their cake and to eat it – living tax-free lives built on the contributions of members (last time I checked God wasn’t tossing private jets or cars out of the skies) and yet seeking to stay above the responsibility to be accountable for their actions.
As Ogbe points out in her essay: “Most Nigerian Christians understand well the contradictions in the lives of their men of God, especially in terms of what is professed, the lifestyle, and the tenets of the bible.”
Which might be fine – but only to an extent. No society can or should exist without checks and balances.
And no society can survive the impact of religion purely as a purveyor of materialistic comforts, the way we like to practise it here. By unifying the oppressed and their oppressors with the false comforts of endless hope (the insistence that with the right amount of faith the poor will find wealth, and the rich even more), religion – Pentecostalism especially, with its glitzy blending of materialism and emotionalism – helps us all adapt to and justify dysfunctional conditions we should long have revolted again.
How do you expect a people to revolt against a political class who own the front seats in the houses of God; and whose actions, judging from the consenting silence, or worshipful adoration, of spiritual overlords, does not seem to be in any way in contravention of God’s standards.
British engineer, Tim Newton, who’s on his way out of Nigeria on a new posting (he’s spent the last few years living and working here) recently blogged about “the bizarre situation [in Nigeria] where being dishonest is not socially frowned upon. Not really, anyway. If somebody is caught with his hand in the till, he is not shunned by his peers. The whole situation is treated with utter indifference, and sometimes admiration […] The only behaviour I managed to identify which would cause a Nigerian to be shunned by his peers and made an outcast, is if he decided he wasn’t a believer and therefore wasn’t going to be showing up in church (or mosque) any more. I don’t think I met a single Nigerian who didn’t attend either church or mosque, and religion plays an enormous – possibly the key – role in Nigerian society.”
Yet, that exceedingly high religious-house-per-capita levels (Nigeria is perhaps the only country in the world where factories dying and being replaced by churches seems perfectly normal) has spectacularly failed to translate into any ethical or developmental transformation.
And yet I’m confident it won’t always be this way.
A part of me can’t wait for when Nigeria starts to function properly, when, by the grace of God we will once again see factories replace churches, for the very simple fact that it will be more economically productive to run a factory than a church. (Which is as should be).
There will be less of an incentive to turn to God and his servants for the assurance of American and British visas and security and jobs and husbands and children.
We will no longer bother God for any of the many things that should ordinarily not be his business.
At that time, God willing, those who choose to believe in the existence and power of God will turn to him not for what they can selfishly extract from him, but for a personal relationship that inspires, nourishes, and guides personal conduct.
For any spirituality or religiosity that fails to guide personal conduct is a sham, regardless of how many signs and wonders it produces.
Jesus himself said so, just in case you’re wondering.
“We Killed NBA Chairman Barrister Emeka Emmanuel Agundu For Stealing N18Million” – Morocco Based Internet Fraud Gang Member Confesses
39-year-old Kenechukwu Eze, a native of Amoli Edem in the Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, on Wednesday, said his gang members killed one Emmanuel Agundu because he withheld the N18m they realised from Internet fraud. The money was reportedly paid into his Nigerian bank account.
Agundu, who was the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Udenu branch, was shot on August 15, 2018, at Obollo-Afor in the Udenu Local Government Area of the state by unidentified gunmen around 7pm, but he survived the attack.
However, on September 2, 2018, he was trailed to Uru-Uwani Edem in the Nsukka Local Government Area around 2pm and shot dead.
Although one of the gunmen was arrested and remanded in prison custody, Eze, a member of the five-man gang of Internet fraudsters based in Morocco, was apprehended on Wednesday, July 10, 2019, by the personnel of the Enugu State Police Command.
Parading the suspect at the state police headquarters alongside 18 were arrested across the state for various offences ranging from armed robbery, kidnapping, car snatching, vandalism, cultisim, unlawful possession of firearms and murder, the state Commissioner of Police, Suleiman Balarabe, said Eze was arrested with the help of credible intelligence, adding that the police had been tracking him since Agundu’s death.
Balarabe said his arrest was part of the command’s efforts to rid the state of criminals.
“We are also striving towards reducing crime to its barest minimum through proactive measures without losing sight of the respect for human rights and the rule of law,” the CP stated.
Speaking during the parade, Eze confessed that his group killed the legal practitioner, adding that the person who shot Agundu had been arrested and remanded in prison.
He said;“I didn’t know the lawyer in person, but one of our members brought him to join us in the business. His job was to supply a bank account to pay the money we realised into.
“So, we paid a total of N18m into the account he supplied and when we asked him to provide the money, he rebuffed us. Instead of making the money available for us to share according to our agreed formula, he started threatening to report the matter to security agents. That was why we decided to end it once and for all.
“I was arrested because of the death of that lawyer that we did a fraudulent transaction together. He spent N18m and was killed because of that. The person, who shot him, is already in prison. We were five in number; Emmanuel Ebonyi, one Valentine and his younger brother, Agundu and I.
“It was an online business, but the barrister supplied the account that we paid into. We paid a total of N18m into his account and he kept all the money.”
Day Abiola Visited and Begged Awo for Forgiveness
By Olusegun OSOBA
‘Chief Obafemi Awolowo was at home one sultry day in the mid-80s when he was informed that an unlikely visitor had come to visit him. When he was told it was Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, his archenemy, so to speak, Awolowo was stunned. It sounded like an April Fools’ Day joke, but he decided to receive the visitor if only to find out his mission. As Abiola spotted the old man coming in his direction, he threw himself flat on the ground in the Yoruba tradition of paying homage to a respected person.
On getting up, Abiola embraced his old nemesis, apologizing for breezing into the old man’s home without notification. He did not stop at apology; he demanded food. “Baba, I have come to eat lunch in your house today”, Abiola announced. “Eat lunch in my house?” a surprised Awo asked, as if he wasn’t too sure what he heard, adding “As a rule and habit, I don’t eat lunch.” “Baba, I am hungry. I want to eat eba,” Abiola insisted. As arrangement was being made to prepare lunch, Awo sat there bemused. After some waiting, lunch finally arrived and Abiola ate like a truly hungry man. He cleared every morsel on his plate – a sign that he enjoyed the food.
After lunch, Abiola formally explained his mission. He had come for peace. He had come to ask the old man to forgive him of all his political transgressions. Everything, he had done, he informed the old man, was political, not personal. He said that even while playing politics he still respected and admired Awo as a leader whose achievements would forever remain evergreen in history. Awolowo was touched; he agreed to forgive Abiola and even prayed for him. Chief Abiola was a paradox- a man of complex extremes, a man you could love to hate and yet hate to love at the same time. He was a man of destiny. Fatebeckoned him to toss hat into the political arena to vie to be Nigeria’s President under the transition programme of the military government of our mutual friend, General Ibrahim Babangida.
A wealthy man, Abiola was also an epitome of generosity, who supported people and causes he believed in. He was a man with a large heart. I had not always been his friend, though I had never regarded him as an enemy. Our relationship had started on a quarrelsome note. March 1986 afforded me the opportunity to appraise him publicly. I was a guest at the New Nigerian Newspaper forum in Kaduna where I was asked a question about him and I bared my mind about this stupendously rich man whose wealth naturally put him under all kinds of pressure and made him behave sometimes inappropriately. I told the New Nigerian in an interview published on April 1,1986. Each time I think of Chief MKO Abiola, rather than hate him in spite of all that he has done to me, I have great sympathy and pity for him. Any human being who stumbles on the kind of money that Chief MKO Abiola stumbled on would naturally go through all kinds of pressures. Extended family pressure will be there, societal pressure will be there, group pressure will be there, ethnic pressure will be there.
On top of all these, you have sycophants putting their pressures, flatterers and flag wavers putting their pressures on such an individual. I suspect that all these pressures are working on Chief MKO Abiola in terms of his attitude to certain people, especially in relation to me. This is why I say I have great sympathy because Chief Abiola doesn’t know me at all. He and I have never had an occasion to sit down like this for any reasonable length of time. I have never been to his house and don’t know the way he lives; he doesn’t know the way I live. I have never been to his office. I have only been to his residence in London once when Dele Giwa and I travelled, and he arranged that I meet Chief MKO Abiola. So you find that Chief Abiola based his approach and attitude towards me on hearsay. On what he has heard from other people, I take my case as an example of how he arrives at some of his attitude to people.
You can see why flatterers and sycophants who are hovering around him are telling him tales about people: ‘This man doesn’t like you; this man is destroying you and this one hates you.’ perhaps they have been telling him this kind of story. So Chief Abiola has brought himself to a point where he totally hates my face. I know that Islam (some of my own family on wife’s side and on my side are Muslims) abhors hatred of fellow human being. My public outburst was the culmination of the spat that had attended my relationship with him. My first dirty encounter with Abiola was in1979. I had left Herald Newspaper in Ilorin to take up a new job in Ibadan with Sketch Newspaper as the General Manager. I got that job after a rigorous interview involving consultants such as Mr. Emmanuel Adagogo Jaja, the then Managing Director of the Daily Times, Mr. Vincent Maduka, the Director-General of the NTA and a chartered accountant, Mr Kayode Ajasin from the Nigerian Institute of Management to the panel. But my appointment did not go down well with certain elements in the Sketch led by Dayo Duyile who wanted the job.
A week to my resumption at Sketch, something unethical happened. The elements who didn’t want me to come into Sketch as their General Manager cut my signature from the letter-heading of the NPAN and pasted it on a letter purportedly written to the UPN in which I was quoted as saying “now that I have gotten the Daily Sketch job I am going to use it to propagate the aspiration and interest of the UPN in the 1979.” They then sent a photocopy of their forgery to Chief Abiola, a stalwart of NPN, who in turn took the letter to the then Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo. Putting his weight and influence behind the forged letter, MKO got Obasanjo to cancel my appointment as General Manager of Sketch Group of Newspapers. This forgery was a dirty and criminal act. It was a subject that caught the attention of the Daily Times of July 9,1979. Its ‘Grapevine’column in “Intrigues at the Sketch”put the issue in context: “since Felix Adenaike left the Sketch as General Manager, the newspaper has been trying to find a replacement for him.
There has been quite a lot of wheeling and dealing over at the newspaper, and it doesn’t look as if the intrigues and conspiracies are going to be over for a long time yet. Towards the end of last year, the newspaper placed an advertisement inviting qualified Nigerians to apply for the post of General Manager. A number of journalists, including those already working at the Sketch, applied for the post. AND Mr. Segun Osoba was one of those who applied from outside. Our information is that at the interview, Mr. Osoba came first. The interviewing panel passed in their recommendations to the Board of Directors of the Sketch. But two members of the Board, representing Oyo and Ondo states, were alleged to have refused to ratify Mr. Osoba’s appointment on the grounds that respective governments had mandated them not to appoint Mr. Osoba to the job. On further inquiry, however, it transpired that the Ondo and Oyo state military had not given any such instructions to their representatives on the Boards, and consequently directed that Mr. Osoba be appointed General Manager of the Sketch with effect from July 1, 1979.
The matter ought finally to have ended there but it appears that someone determined that Mr. Osoba should not assume that post. Segun Osoba is a well-known journalist who, we admit, his incredible high jinks for aggressive troubleshooting journalism. The thing is in his blood. But he has sometimes tended to be excessively enthusiastic in his attempt to scoop rival reporters and influence people and events. And this has naturally not sat well with everyone. His quarrel with the former military Governor of Kwara State, while he was General Manager of the Nigerian Herald, assumed the proportions of a legend. He left that newspaper in rather curious circumstances, and for a long time the debate will go on as to whether he was a saint or a sinner.
But our concern here is with truth and justice and fair play, not with Osoba’s personality. We are indeed painfully aware that bringing this matter up here could seriously injure Mr. Osoba’s chances of getting his job at the Sketch back, and so we make these observations with a sense of great responsibility. A few days before he was to assume his post at the Sketch, a strange letter surfaced. The intent of the letter was to suggest that Mr. Osoba has sought the post at the Sketch as part of a grand design to capture that newspaper and use it as a partisan organ for one of the political parties. But more damaging was the insinuation that Mr. Osoba was in the pay of the party in question. Our investigations have revealed however that this letter, which was alleged to have been written by Mr. Osoba himself to the officials of the party, is a forgery and a rather crude one at that. His signature on the letter was genuine enough. But whoever was responsible for the surgery omitted to use the same typeface for this signature and for the main body of the letter itself.
So, it now appears that Mr. Osoba is not the only one who has been embarrassed by all this. The perpetrators will no doubt be found out and will no doubt discover that those who live by the sword always die by it. The newspaper industry in Nigeria is unfortunately riddled with intrigue. And as always happens, it is usually those who consider themselves adepts at it who ultimately become its victims. We understand that the three governments that jointly own the sketch are now inclined to the view that Mr. Osoba is too controversial a figure to be General Manager of that newspaper even though they are certain that the letter was a forgery. But we are firmly convinced that should these governments persist in their view, they would in fact be helping to achieve the very goals for which the letter was cooked up. Truth is always uncomfortable and sometimes controversial. But we must not for that reason appear to be collaborating with them without scruples who (that) forge documents to attain selfish ends
Without even bothering to call me or hear my side of the story, Obasanjo simply cancelled that appointment and I lost the job of general manager at the Sketch based on a forged letter masterminded by “men without scruples who forged documents to attain selfish ends,” to borrow the words of the Daily Times columnist. Unfortunately for my detractors and their collaboration, the UPN won the three states in the South-West and my appointment was restored on October 1, 1979. That was the beginning of my war with Abiola. But reconciliation came dramatically, as had happened between Abiola and Chief Awolowo. And it happened in the air of all places. I met Chief Abiola aboard a London-bound flight. On spotting him, I looked the other way to avoid any contact with him. I had made up my mind not to talk to him. But Abiola’s large heart came into play. He came to where I was sitting and started to talk to me. “I am MKO Abiola,” he started. “I know,” I replied icily. “I say I am MKO Abiola,” he repeated. “I know. Thank you very much, Chief.” “Will you please shake me at least?” He held out his hand. I paused for a while.
Then, something came over me; something peaceful and reconciliatory. I got up to shake his hands. After the handshake, he said: “Mr. Osoba, whatever must have transpired between us, let us end it here without a third party.” I looked into his eyes and saw a different man. A man of peace who didn’t want a prolonged war! I told him: “Chief, you are a true Muslim and to an extent, I am a reasonable Christian. I think it’s all over.” We shook hands and deep in my heart, it was all over. I also recall that after Awolowo died, there was a fundraising launch for Awolowo Foundation ceremony at Liberty Stadium. There again Abiola made a public apology in his speech. He said: “To all you followers of Awolowo, I apologise to you and to Awolowo, for whatever I might have done.” At that time, he was not contesting for any office. That was Abiola’s way of doing things. He could eat the humble pie and ask for forgiveness and settlement of past quarrels whenever the need arose. But the war between me and Abiola didn’t stop in spite of our handshake and truce in the aircraft. He had started his Concord, a newspaper dedicated to fighting Awolowo, while we in Sketch and Tribune defended Awolowo to the tilte.
We never saw eye-to-eye.it was a case of Abiola’s Concord versus Sketch and Tribune, fighting for Awo and the political tendency he represented. At that time, the then Inspector-General of police, Mr Sunday Adewusi was the scourge of the opposition newspapers. He started charging those of us tagged the opposition newspapers to courts all over Nigeria- a tactic aimed at punishing or frustrating us. I appeared before the Federal High Court in Sokoto, before the Magistrate Court in Lagos for authorizing ‘seditious’ publications. Peter Ajayi and I were shuttling from one court to another all over the nation. Chief Abiola in Concord newspaper started attacking us, asking us whose freedom we were fighting for since we were political “agents fighting for a particular political group.” I took it all in good faith. As nemesis would have it, he resigned from the NPN after a bitter disagreement with party leadership over his quest to contest for the chairmanship of the party.
Adewusi turned the same weapon used against us as opposition newspapers on Concord, locking up the paper’s top editors like Ray Ekpu and Dele Giwa. They were charged with having inspired arsonists through their pens and commentaries to set the NITEL Building along the Marina, Lagos, on fire. As General Secretary of Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria, (NAN). I mobilized NPAN and NUJ members to mount pressure for their release and to attend courts when their case was brought up. At one point we broke the law on the ban onpublic procession by conducting a protest match. We walked from the Lagos High Court in Tafawa Balewa Square to Saint Anna’s Magistrate Court where Ray Ekpu and Dele Giwa were being detained. We went there to insist that the High Court had ruled that they should be released, so there should be compliance. And the editors eventually got out of jail. Abiola was so happy with my effort in getting Ekpu and Giwa released. He flew all the way from Europe to attend the opening of the building of the new block of offices of Daily Sketch. At the event, he danced happily. A thaw had occurred in an otherwise frosty relationship.’” ~
CULLED FROM TheNEWS July 15th 2019.
Police arrest suspected killers of Funke Olakunrin
The Nigerian police claimed they have arrested some suspects involved in the killing on Friday of Mrs Funke Olakunrin, daughter of the Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti.
Channels TV attributed the breakthrough to police spokesman in Ondo State Mr Femi Joseph.
According to him, the suspects were arrested when a team of security operatives stormed the forests in the area near Ore in Ondo State.
The command’s spokesman, however, did not disclose neither the identities of those arrested nor their number.
He said investigations were still ongoing while suspects would be paraded as soon as possible.
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