Victim of Greed
By Tony Chuks Modungwo (Nigeria)
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When we arrived at Garden City we booked into a hotel. When I went the third day of our arrival to buy newspapers, I was shocked. On the front page of most newspapers were my picture and that of Biola. The police had declared me wanted and Senator Harrison had offered to pay five million naira to anybody who could disclose Biola’s whereabouts and my hideout.
I suddenly felt that my mind was spiraling out of control. My forehead felt clammy and my hands began to shake. I found it difficult to swallow. My heart was thumping so loudly that I wondered for a fleeting second whether it would burst. I also felt a sudden, massive drop in the pit of my stomach, the place where my self-confidence dwelled.
I rushed back to the hotel and showed Biola the papers. “Take a look at these newspapers.”
“Christ!” she said, awed by the development. “What do we do?” The news made her extremely nervous and set her on edge. She bit her fingernails and wrung her hands.
I sat down dejectedly on a chair and wracked my brain for a solution.
“You seem to be a million miles away,” Biola’s soft voice broke into my thought.
“No. I am right here with you.” My hand tightened on hers.
I stood up and walked to the window, still thinking. For every problem, there had to be a solution. It was just a matter of finding it. I continued to pace back and forth across the suite. Suddenly I stopped. A relieved smile brightened my face and I snapped my fingers.
“We’ve to check out of the hotel and look for an accommodation in the interior of the city,” I said, as I scratched my ear meditatively.
Biola had a lot of money on her so money was not our problem. Two days later, I found a mud house. I preferred it because people would not think of looking for us in such a place. The house had a pit toilet and no water. We fetched water from a well near the house. I was surprised at the way Biola adjusted. Women could do anything when they are in love. We’d decided we would travel abroad once the dust settled.
I tried to swallow my fear, but it rose uncontrollably. A deadly cold fear gripped me. I forced myself to think rationally. You could be arrested by the police for absconding with Senator Harrison’s daughter. Trying to shake off those dreadful thoughts, I scolded myself.
“Those bad feelings are nothing more than my own imagination. After all, Biola followed on her own volition.” But in my heart I knew there was something else – something dark and frightful. It was unrelenting fear that Senator Harrison and his thugs might find us before the police and I knew, without any shadows of doubt, that they were searching.
The past few days we had stayed in the slum of Garden City hadn’t helped. I felt that someone was constantly watching our movements. What if Senator Harrison did find us? How could I continue to live with this menacing fear? As much as I loved Biola, how could I ever find complete happiness with this terrible threat constantly looming over us? I shivered, though the evening was warm.
The fear of Senator Harrison was threatening our happiness now just as much as it had while we had been living in Lagos. I had been miserable there and I was making myself miserable here. Why? I had a right to happiness! I had done nothing wrong.
Why live each day in fear over what might happen tomorrow? If I continue to be afraid of my own shadow, afraid to reach out for happiness, we might as well return to Lagos and end the love affair. No. We were not going to do that, but we wanted to reach out and take the happiness that is right within our reach. I told Biola to dress up. Soon we were in our former hotel for dinner.
Our co-tenants were surprised we were always indoors. But they didn’t ask. They were illiterates. They didn’t read newspapers and rarely listened to news on the radio. So they could not recognize us.
The one week we stayed in the house before Biola was kidnapped, gave me a good opportunity to see what she looked like when she was weary and careless of her appearance.
“Being with someone one likes and trusts is far more comfortable than loving someone one is not quite sure of, because he is a son of a wealthy man. I enjoy your company, - someone I can talk to and discuss things with. Someone, moreover, who’ll understand how I feel.”
She looked up and caught my eyes looking at her so intently.
I kissed her lingeringly. “That’s why I love you. You’re so gentle and understanding, loyal and forgiving. I pray never to lose the unselfish love you have given me.”
The minutes slowly passed into hours. Still holding Biola in my arms, I watched the first stirrings of dawn through the slightly open window and the skylight above. During the night she had awakened several times, looked around, and then slept again. I could remember only a few nights that I slept through without waking at least once or twice – regardless of how tired I was.
One night Biola awoke with a start and for just a brief moment her face registered confusion. Then she saw me gazing intently at her and recognition flickered into her eyes. Her fear dissolved. She stocked my face with loving concern.
We spent a lot of time reading and playing games like chess, monopoly and whot. Sometimes we lay down all day doing absolutely nothing.
I did the washing because Biola was used to doing her washing with a washing machine. I also did the cooking. Biola had never cooked. Akpan was Senator Harrison’s chef. He used to work in Nigerian Hotels Limited before Senator Harrison enticed him away with improved conditions of service. He could prepare local, continental and oriental food. He received a lot of compliments from guests to Senator Harrison’s frequent parties after they were served delicious dishes prepared by him. He cooked the family food, so Biola had no business in the kitchen.
We were eating our dinner one evening when we heard a knock on the door. We had never received any visitor since we packed into the house, so we were alarmed.
“Who is at the door?” she asked.
I mentioned her to be quiet. I’d known fear in my life, quite a bit of it since I met Biola, but never experienced anything like the bone-chilling terror that rushed through me now. I’d a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. Could our neighbors want to talk to us? Why? We’d only exchanging greetings and that was all.
I wanted to live, plain and simple, but not without Biola. She’d made the difference in my life. She’d injected possibilities into a life hitherto filled with inadequacies.
I put my arm around her and drew her closer. “With your solid nearness, the warmth and strength of your body, I feel so good,” she said. Events were catching up with me. My head spun and my throat was painfully dry.
“It’s Okay,” I murmured gently. “We’re going to come out of this just fine.”
We thought it was the police. I was undecided what to do when the door was forced open. We came face-to-face with four armed masked men.
My heart jumped into my mouth and the drought situation in my throat became worse. Biola screamed.
They immediately rushed at Biola. I was annoyed that Senator Harrison had sent his thugs after us again.I distracted the one nearest to me by a slight movement of my hand and gave him an extended knuckle blow that flattened him out. I thought the rest would run but instead they came onto me like bees. I was so worried about Biola that I forgot all the basic rules of self-preservation.
They kicked me and threw punches at me. I deflected as many as I could. I caught one with a lung punch that drove the breath out of him. I gave him a back fist strike to his face and he slipped to the floor. I went after the third man. I made up my mind to leave the mark of my knuckles on his mouth. I was good at hitting people in the mouth. I was trying to do him physical damage when the fourth man struck me on the head with the butt of his gun. Everything went black.
I regained consciousness two days later in the hospital. Luckily my skull was intact, but I’d a splitting headache. When I tried to move my legs I found them chained to the bed. A nurse came in ten minutes later. “Congratulations. So you’ve regained consciousness.”
“Congratulation for what? What do you mean by chaining my legs to the bed?”
“Oh! It’s the police.”
“Police? So Senator Harrison is not satisfied yet? He wants to jail me?”
“How can he be, when his daughter is still missing,” she regrettably informed me.
“What do you mean? I asked automatically.
“Your co-tenants carried you to the hospital when they found you unconscious. They said they didn’t see Biola.”
“My God! It means Biola has been kidnapped.”
“We were attacked by four thugs. I thought it was Senator Harrison that sent them. What do the police want to do with me?”
“They’re charging you for abduction.”
“Take it easy. You’re not strong enough. You better rest,” the nurse advised and left. I fell asleep.
I awoke to find a police sergeant by my bedside. The nurse must have contacted him that I’d regained consciousness.
“Hey guy, so you’re awake?”
“And therefore? What do you think you’re doing here instead of looking for the kidnappers?” I said accusingly.
“We’re hoping you’ll give us a lead,” he said eagerly.
“What does that mean? Am I supposed to do your job for you? Go out of here and find her. This is why you are paid.”
“We want the description of the kidnappers from you.”
“They wore masks. I didn’t see their faces.”
When I was fully recovered, I was placed in a police cell awaiting interrogation. I couldn’t sleep all the days I spent there. I sweated profusely and mosquitoes gave me no peace. The days seemed unnaturally long to me.
After two days in the cell eating poison called food, I was led into an interrogation room to face two police officers. I heard the tread of determined footsteps against the floor for the moment. I sat down. I looked up, and then Senator Harrison burst through the door. At the sight of Senator Harrison storming into the room, I knew trouble would surely follow. I braced my shoulders, lowered my head, and prepared for the worst.
“Sit down, Chika,” one of the officers told me, waving to a seat. He was broad shouldered. He had cop written all over his face. He was a Superintendent of Police (SP).
“Come you son-of-a-bitch, you better produce my daughter or start counting your days,” Senator Harrison said, eyeing me with renewed dislike.
Senator Harrison was appalled by my relationship with Biola. He considered me an interloper, a mercenary whose primary interest in his daughter was monetary gain.
“Take it easy, sir,” the other officer told him. He was handsome and smartly dressed. He was an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP).
“Take what easy?” the Senator barked. “My only child has been kidnapped and you’re telling me to take things easy? I’ve even paid those bastards the ransom they demanded, and still they didn’t release her. I’ll kill this pig and his entire family if I don’t get my daughter back.” It was later that I learnt the kidnappers had asked for and received a ransom of five million naira. At this moment, Senator Harrison’s hands looked as though they wanted to wrap themselves around my throat. His anger rose with every word. I could feel the anger coming off him in waves.
He was darting back and forth. He was in a state of near hysteria.
“Please sit down, sir,” the SP said.
“We’ll try our best to find her. But we need an accurate description of her kidnappers first,” the ASP assured him. “Senator Harrison, you know that the police force, like every other justice department in this country, is operating under some pretty serious budgetary constraints. We just don’t have the manpower we’d like to have.”
“Chik,a can you tell us how the kidnappers look like?” the SP asked.
“I didn’t see their faces, sir. They wore masks. They were tall and heavily built.” The ASP wrote down the proceedings as the interrogation progressed.
“How many were they?”
“Have you any idea who the kidnappers might be?”
“Not the slightest idea.”
“Or how they might have found out about your hide – out?”
“What was the color of the mask?”
“Will you know it when you see it?”
“Did they carry guns?”
“Only two of them.”
“How about the others?”
“One carried a cutlass and the other a bow and arrow.”
“How long did you live in your hide-out before you were attacked?”
“Do you suspect any of your co-tenants? Maybe they found out who you were and decided to kidnap Biola so as to collect money from her father.”
“No. They were all illiterates. They neither read newspapers nor listened to radio. They didn’t know who we were. And none of the kidnappers looked like any of them.”
“Have you committed any offence punishable by the laws of this land before?”
“Do you know you’re guilty of abduction now?”
“I’m not guilty.”
Senator Harrison gave me a strange look. “You must be crazy. Maybe you prefer it to be called kidnapping,” Senator Harrison roared. He fidgeted in his seat. There was tiredness around the eyes that Senator Harrison was unable to conceal.
I didn’t reply.
“Why did you elope with the girl?”
I hesitated. Slowly I said, “We were hopelessly in love and wanted to marry, but her father refused to give his consent because I am from a poor family. So Biola suggested we elope.”
“Shut up, you asshole! Imagine this fortune hunter wanting to marry my daughter? You’re inordinately ambitious. Such a marriage will never take place in my lifetime,” he declared with sudden vehemence. “This bastard has charmed my daughter, and she is not acting with her free will. She doesn’t know what she is doing. She’s under a spell. Allowing a poor man like you to be in possession of a fortune will lead to disaster. You wouldn’t know what to do with it.”
“Please sir, let’s go ahead with this interrogation,” the SP pleaded.
“You mean it was Biola’s idea that you should elope?”
With a great heaviness of heart, I replied: “Yes, sir.” I rubbed my unshaven face thoughtfully.
“You’re a liar. You’re lying against her because she is not here,” Senator Harrison thundered.
“Do you’ve any idea how we can find her?” the SP asked, ignoring Senator Harrison’s interruption.
“Do you’ve anybody to bail you?”
“You don’t mean you want to release this bastard without finding my daughter?” he demanded indignantly. “This bastard has thrown my daughter to the wolves.”
“The Honorable, we will do our job without undue interference from you,” the SP warned. This prompted an even angrier outburst.
“You dare talk to me that way? You shall regret this. Need I remind you, I’m a very wealthy man.” Like many Nigerian politicians, Senator Harrison made a great ceremony of personal strength and power. Senator Harrison’s exit was as stormy as his arrival. He was used to giving orders, barking at people, yelling.
“Yes? You don’t have anybody to bail you?” he repeated.
I thought for some time and gave them Kola’s name and address. Although, Kola wouldn’t be happy, I knew he would come when he was told that I was in trouble. He was as dependable as the rock of Gibraltar and as constant as the Northern Star.
A police constable was told to return me to the cell. “If you remember anything you want to tell me, ask to see me,” the Superintendent of Police said, as the constable led me away. On our way he struck me with his baton on the right elbow.
“What does that mean?” I asked angrily.
“Keep quiet, cocksucker,” he ordered. “You’ll be very lucky if you see the sun in the next three months. I’m going to teach you never to mess around with a big man’s daughter again in your life.” He continued beating me with his baton until we got to the cell. He opened it and shoved me inside with curses.
I was seething with fury, but there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t fight back. He was one of the slaves of the aristocrats.
Kola came immediately he was told and bailed me. I was, however, told to report to the police station every morning.
I took a taxi to our house. My parents were at home. My mother ran to embrace me.
“I’m glad you’ve been released,” she cried. “We warned you that it wasn’t sensible playing with a rich man’s daughter. You now see what we mean. Your father vowed he’d never come to see you in the cell. He said it served you right. He even warned me not to come to the police station.”
“You’re lucky you’re alive,” my father said. “Frankly, you got just what you deserve.”
“Is that all you’ve to say?” my mother asked offensively.
“What else do you want me to say? No man in my family had ever been shoved around by a woman before, despite the fact that we’re poor. Chika is a disgrace.” The Delta State Ibos had a culture rich in masculine pride.
“Leave the poor boy alone. See how emaciated he is and you’ve no sympathy,” my mother said.
“What type of sympathy? Did I send him to run after the daughter of that pompous buffoon? Maybe this will be an eye-opener for him.”
The incident in the police station helped to stiffen my resolutions about Senator Harrison and the disruptive effect that his treatment had on my emotions. I couldn’t prevent him from protecting his daughter, of course, but I knew that I would never again allow him to trample my pride into the dust. I had regained my self-respect with difficulty and was determined I would never surrender it again.
The day after I was released, I decided to go to Awka. A friend had told me about the ingenuity of some of the blacksmiths in the place in making exquisite guns that could favorably compete with imported ones. I needed a gun to go in search of Biola’s kidnappers. I knew that possession of a gun without a license was a crime but how many of those having firearms had license?
As I walked to the bus stop to take a bus to the park, I saw a mammoth crowd gathered. “What is happening here again? Have thugs engaged in a ‘do-or-die’ fight over disagreement on how to share the money collected from their victims? They had caused serious traffic jam. “Lagos life!” I hissed. It could be an accident, I thought. Most drivers drove as if they had just escaped from hell. Some had no driving license. Most of them have never gone for any driving test. They bought their license. Why wouldn’t accidents be rampant?
As I approached the place, I saw something was burning. The robberswere at it again. They had set yet another building on fire, I said to myself. Or was it a car burning? Some people knew how to buy cars, but not how to maintain them. I moved forward to ascertain what was actually burning.
Oh my God! There were human beings being roasted. It was incredible.
“What happened?” I asked a young girl I met there, my mouth dropping open with incredulity.
“They are thieves,” she said.
“What did they steal?”
“Provisions from Alhaja’s shop.”
“Imagine! When the pen robbers are busy looting billions and gaining more respect from the public, the same public is lynching people for stealing goods less than one thousand naira. What a disorganized society,” I soliloquized.
Lynching of crime suspects had become rampant. Some innocent people had been so killed by irate mob mistaking them for thieves. When I complained to Kola, he simply said, “It is a sign that the masses have no confidence in the police and the judiciary. If you report any thief to the police, you’ll be lucky if you escape being locked up, instead. The thieves know their way with the police.”
It had become a common sight to see a human being burning by the roadsides, as if he was a heap of wood. All that was needed to condemn an individual to an untimely death was a shout of the word “thief ”. Once this word was heard, people would emerge from their houses, shops, and cars carrying all sorts of deadly weapons ready to deliver instant justice. Some people had succeeded in using this style to eliminate their enemies.
“But what type of sadistic entertainment is this in this modern time?” I asked myself. As I stood there horrified, I saw some passers-by smiling, jubilating. Some simply walked past unconcerned. The residents of the houses around were undisturbed, and children came to peep.
I shook my head and returned to the bus stop to take a bus to the park. I’d my own problem to solve.
I boarded a clouded bus. At the next bus stop a man entered.
“King’s Avenue! Jungle! Market! Papa’s land! When you hear the name of your bus stop, please simply say “he dey,” the man shouted.
“Oh my God! These noisy medicine hawkers again,” I muttered to myself.
He went through the names of the bus stops again. Those who were not used to these drug peddlers said “he dey”, when they heard their bus stops mentioned, while those who were used to them simply kept quiet.
“Yes, that’s alright. I say good morning to you ladies and gentlemen. Blood is very essential for the normal functioning of your body. Your blood is working when you’re sleeping, sitting, walking or working in your offices. You all know that your body is an organ and it needs nourishment, otherwise, the blood cannot work. After the day’s job, you come home very tired. This is why you need the product I’m about to introduce to you now. The best medicine manufacturers in the world manufacture it. Apart from revitalizing your blood, this medicine cures stomach ache, chronic headache, rashes, pile, dysentery and many other diseases. The name is Okumagin. In the medicine stores, it costs five hundred naira, but for advertisement purposes, I shall sell it two hundred and fifty naira in this bus. Remember that cure is better than prevention. Take two tablets in the morning and two in the evening. If you want, please call my attention, it is only two hundred and fifty naira.”
Some people bought the drug. An elderly woman sitting near me bought one. I collected it from her and read the prescription. It was to be taken once a day or as prescribed by a doctor.
People were obviously ignorant of the danger of self-medication. Some of the drugs sold in buses have long expired. Most of the prescriptions given by the peddlers were over or under dose. Many people had died by consuming these drugs, and others have had their illnesses worsened.
Almost immediately the drug peddler sat down after transacting his business, another man stood up. “Good morning brothers and sisters, I’ve brought you good news. For Christ asked his disciples, “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul?”’ he quoted.
“These fanatics again,” I murmured.
“What I’ve for you is for your highest and best interest. It is about your souls - - - Jesus is the only way. If you don’t believe in Jesus, you shall end up in hell fire.”
“The same old story. Religious tolerance doesn’t mean anything to some people. If all religion preaches to be the only way, there’ll surely be a holy war,” one man complained. I quickly jumped down when the bus got to the park to face another war with the touts.
Different groups dragged me to their own vehicle. I eventually opted for the one I thought was nearly filled up. It turned out to be a serious mistake. Most of the people in the bus were touts. I waited for over three hours, before the bus moved.
Men of Customs and Excise stopped us on the way. They demanded for the trunk of the bus to be opened. After about thirty minutes search, they asked for the owners of some baggage and ordered them to open them. They did and they were arrested for carrying smuggled goods.
“Who smuggled these goods into this country? Surely, it is not these poor traders. Who allowed them in at the entry points? Everybody knows that the goods were smuggled into the country by influential men and sold them to the traders. Why not arrest the influential men?” one man in dark glasses complained bitterly.
“Please don’t allow to them hear you, otherwise they won’t release us in time,” one of the passengers cautioned. “They should give them what they want and let’s go.”
“What do they want?” the man in dark glasses asked.
He shot him a sidelong glance, “Are you new in town? Bribes of course.” the same man said.
“Nonsense. Nobody is going to give or receive bribes in my presence today,” he threatened.
“Better not to complicate the matter. They’ll just send these poor men to jail,” one passenger explained to him.
He understood and kept quiet. Our driver was nothing but a mad man. When the bus filled at the park, he was called from where he was smoking marijuana. We’d barely left the park when he opened a full bottle of gin and started to drink from the bottle as he drove. He drove at excessive speed.
I challenged him. “You’re driving at excessive speed. It’s advisable you reduce your speed before we get involved in an accident.”
“Go and sit down. I’ve been driving before you were born, and I’ve never been involved in any accident.”
“There’s always a first time. Please just keep to the Federal Road Safety Corp’s speed limit.”
“Ehh, young man, most of us in this bus are businessmen and we are in a hurry to get to Onitsha. If you’ve no important reason for traveling, you can get down and I’ll refund your transport fare,” one man said. His eyes glared accusingly.
“That’s a very good talk. Have your money and get down, so that you can wait for a vehicle that will travel at twenty kilometers per hour. We’ve business to attend to,” another man said, pointing my transport fare to me.
“Fire on,” many others encouraged the driver. “Don’t mind this idle man,” one of them shouted.
The businessmen’s chastisement put a dent into my armor of determination. I couldn’t do anything; so I settled down to pray to God to accept my soul because I doubted if we would ever reach Awka alive. What pained me most was that I’d an important mission at hand. The driver did many dangerous overtakings, driving away oncoming vehicles off the road.
I was surprised and grateful to God when we arrived at Awka without being involved in a fatal accident.
At Awka, I went to the man my friend gave me his address. He sold me a gun without wanting to know what I wanted it for or my particulars. I liked how he transacted his business. It was strictly for cash. I returned to Lagos that same day. I went to the police station after I had dropped the gun at our Palm Avenue residence. They asked why I didn’t report in the morning. I told them that I was sick.
On my way home, I branched to see Kola. He was panicking when I entered. He thought I had absconded. The police had telephoned and given him twenty-four hours to produce me.
When I got home, I took my bath and went to bed. I couldn’t sleep. I was confused as to where to start the search for Biola. Lagos? Garden City? I had no idea. I lay still while my brain went to work.
It was then I decided to join a group of gangsters. I believed the activities of the underworld were well coordinated. Some of the groups knew what the other groups were planning or were doing. Which group should I join? How was I to get introduced became a nagging problem. If I was to find any useful information I’d to join a big organization.
After much thought, I decided to go to Ajegunle. I knew some thugs there. That was where I grew up. I knew many people and many people knew me. I lay awake for many long hours before I was finally able to sleep.
“Locomotive, I’ve come to beg you for assistance,” I said, when I located him in a hotel where he was drinking.
“Yes? What kind of assistance?”
“Since I graduated one year ago, I’ve got no job. I’m tired of roaming the streets, looking for a nonexistent job. I want to join a gang, where I can make some money. I mean a big and tough gang.”
“That’s no problem, but you’ve got to have a lot of guts,” he explained. “The leader of one of the toughest gang in Lagos is my pal.”
"I have gut,” I assured him.
He promised to speak to a friend of his and he did.
A week after, he took me to introduce me to the leader of the gang.
“Gentleman, you’re welcome into my outfit. Locomotive spoke to me about you and I told him to bring you so that I can assess you.”
“Thank you, I’m grateful.”
“I decided to form this outfit because everyday happenings in this country continue to show that the rich are getting richer, while the poor are getting poorer. Most of our people are abjectly poor because some of our people have taken more than their fair share of the bounties of our nation.”
“You’re right. Illiteracy helped to worsen the predicament of the poor because education is unattainable. The silences of our fathers have further helped this development. They sat with legs crossed and arms folded, expecting that one day a ship laden with all the good things of life would dock in their harbor, while few people dominated everything,” I contributed.
“But reason and experience have proved this kind of hope to be wishful thinking,” Locomotive added.
“I’ve just seen, you’ll fit into my outfit because we feel the same way. We’ve been championing the course of the liberation of the poor. We’ve been trying to redistribute the wealth of this country in our own way. We have been making it impossible for the noveaux riche to enjoy their stolen money in Lagos. If while the rich made their millions, and gave the downtrodden the basic necessities of life, there would have been no need for this outfit.”
“Nothing is done to check the “pen robbers”, but when the downtrodden walks up to these “emergency” rich men to demand part of the money they equally stole and maybe apply some force, when they prove reluctant, he gets shot by our police. What is the justification?” Locomotive asked.
“Look, I read psychology in the university. I learnt that criminals are not born, they’re made by the society. Robert F. Kennedy equally said: ‘Every society gets the kind of criminals it deserves.’ Some people have argued that stealing is a genetic factor. I disagree with them vehemently. It’s the society that awakens the sleeping criminal propensity in people,” Shagasha said.
“What does the nation expect from us, when we are barely clothed, left without roof over our heads, without work, without food, but young?” I asked.
“It is unfortunate that the religions leaders that should have saved the poor, failed woefully. Instead, they helped in exploiting them by collecting the little they have in the name of gift to God,” Locomotive said.
“All the “pen robbers” in this country are Elders, Deacons, Deaconesses and Church Leaders,” Shagasha added.
“Since the Pentecostal churches came into being, some years ago, their pastors have been demanding blind and unquestioning obedience from their devotees. My own father is a victim of one Pastor Jeremiah,” I told them.
“I’ve heard so much about that self-styled messiah. At the mention of his name, all his flocks’ knees must bow. His name is considered sacred and forbidden to be pronounced frivolously. It is believed that his name is the key to unravel all life’s mysteries and solve the myriad of problems facing humanity. He claims to have a cure for HIV/AIDS. But many people have claimed that his miracles are voodoo-inspired,” Shagasha said.
“I learnt he even flogs his members who have “sinned” according to his own reasoning,” Locomotive said.
“Yes. He goes beyond that. Anyone who broke a rule like engaging in side-talk during service, failing to pay obeisance anytime he arrived the church or coming late to the church is required to pay heavy fine, determined by the pastor. That’s the reason, worshippers scrambled to prostate before him, anytime he appeared,” I told them.
“Residents of the area where the church is located live in perpetual fear as they are beaten mercilessly without provocation,” Locomotive said.
“His devotee will stop at nothing in dealing with whoever “sin” against their lord and master. It’s an unpardonable iniquity for you to cross the road or drive and attempt to overtake his convoy anytime “His holiness” was on the road. The persons who’d the audacity or misfortune of attempting any of the above were beaten black and blue by his devotees. Fierce-looking men, who enforced his orders, guard him. Women members whether married or unmarried took turns to cook and do other domestic chores for him, which may extend to the bedroom,” I said.
“Our society is rotten. We’ll pay that Pastor Jeremiah a visit one day,” Shagash informed us.
“Our traditional rulers are not even better,” Locomotive said. “They protect only their own interests and not that of their subjects. They easily sell out. Any time there is a violent crime or robbery, you’ll hear them saying that in their own time crimes were not so prevalent,” I said.
“Don’t mind those old men. They lie a lot. Dreadful crimes have existed before and at all times and not only in this country, but the world over. And it’ll continue to occur for a long time to come. The difference is that before, they didn’t receive so much publicity as today. Early this century, Charles Lucky Luciano, “Boss of Bosses’ of the American mafia made a fortune in criminal activities. Jesse Voodson James, Son of a Baptist Minister, strolled into the Clay County Savings Bank, in Liberty, Missouri on February 13, 1866 and relieved the cashier of $60,000. In the early sixties, some men in Britain robbed a train of $2.6 million at Cheddington, Buckinghamshire, popularly known as THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY. How about the Anini saga that held Nigeria hostage in the nineties. Criminal activities is as old as history,” Shagasha concluded.
It was too late now to wonder if I’d done the right thing. Perhaps I hadn’t; I could be killed before rescuing Biola.