By Yemi Adebowale
It pours. This aptly describes rising cases of abductions and accompanying gory tales across our nation in the last 30 months. Daily, Nigerians pay millions of Naira to kidnappers to free their relations. These demons brutalise their victims in order to get huge money from their families. In this process, many have been killed by these beasts. Unfortunately, our security agents have been lethargic in their response to this wickedness. There are scores of gruesome accounts of abductions in the last two weeks alone. This country has never had it so bad. I will reel out some of them; perhaps, it will touch the hearts of those running Nigeria.
Just on Monday, it emerged that a Briton, Ian Squire who was abducted on October 13 in Delta State, had been killed. This was after the kidnappers had collected an undisclosed amount of money. Three other Britons abducted with him were lucky to have survived the ordeal. The four were working with a Christian medical charity in Delta State. “We are supporting the families of four British people who were abducted on October 13 in Nigeria, one of whom was tragically killed,” a British Foreign Office spokeswoman said.
About three weeks ago, kidnappers suspected to be herdsmen killed Reverend David Ayeola, who was the chaplain to the Bishop of the African Church, Ondo Central Diocese. The gunmen shot Ayeola dead in a failed rescue operation, after the church declined to pay the N100 million ransom demanded. The African Church had offered N500,000. Ayeola, the Bishop, Samuel Ojo; and the Bishop’s wife were travelling to Abeokuta, Ogun State, from Imojo Ekiti, Ekiti State, when they were waylaid by the gunmen. While others escaped, the chaplain was abducted by the gunmen. Ayeola was eventually killed by his abductors before they fled from security agents who stormed their den.
Also, three weeks ago, the Christian Education Director of the Evangelical Church Winning All (International), Jen Moses, was kidnapped by herdsmen between Jere and Bwari on the outskirts of Abuja. The kidnappers placed a call to the church and family members, demanding N100 million. While negotiation was on, the victim was severely dehumanised. Eventually, his family and church members settled for a reduced N2.5 million ransom, which was openly paid near the village he was abducted.
Moses spent days in hospital treating injuries he sustained after his abductors repeatedly beat him to force his relatives to pay higher ransom. The kidnappers were furious after the breakdown of negotiation on the initial N100 million demanded, and resorted to beating their victim with rocks and stones. As usual, the response from security agents was sluggish. In fact, rather than give the traumatised family of Reverend Moses information about what they were doing to rescue the poor man, it was the other way round.
In Kogi State, two policemen attached to Dangote Company’s construction site along the Obajana-Kabba Road, were killed by kidnappers three weeks ago, while providing security for the Portuguese expatriates supervising road construction in the area. One of the expatriates, Jose Machada, was eventually abducted by the team of 15 better-armed kidnappers.
The elder brother of my colleague, Shaka Momodu was likewise abducted about three weeks ago by Fulani militants in Auchi. He was similarly severely assaulted, to force the family to pay a hefty ransom. This hapless man was almost killed before the family paid a ransom to the bastards. As typical, the security agents in Edo State were languid in their response.
Popular Edo-born musician, Osayomore Joseph, regained freedom just 16 days ago, after spending almost a month in the den of kidnappers. Osayomore, who was abducted on October 3, after performing at the coronation anniversary of Oba Ewuare II of Benin, was battered by his abductors, and he is currently in hospital. His family paid millions of Naira for his freedom.
These are just a few of the gory tales of abductions across our nation. Our initial problem was Boko Haram. Now, kidnappers, armed robbers and Fulani herdsmen are ravaging our nation. There is hardly any state immune to one or more of these evils. Nigerians are living in fear. We are daily assaulted by well-coordinated gangs of kidnappers, armed robbers and herdsmen. Unfortunately, the response to these killings by the government and its security agents has been feeble. The truth is that serial kidnappings for ransoms are symptoms of a failed government.
I am scandalised that kidnapping now carries death penalty in many states, yet, we have not seen a single kidnapper executed anywhere in this country. All we hear from governments at all levels is mere rhetoric. Whether it’s the menace of kidnapping, armed robbery or rampaging herdsmen, the truth is that our security agents can no longer protect lives and properties, not only because they are ill-equipped, but also because of the high level of ineptitude in these organisations.
These outlaws have been emboldened by the failings of our security agencies. Criminals must be arrested and prosecuted. This is the standard in sane societies. Unfortunately, the reverse is the case in our dear country. The level of insecurity in Nigeria is appalling. What a country! Commitment to the protection of lives must be restored. Our security agencies require total overhaul, if we genuinely need appropriate response to these security challenges. These agencies are under the federal government and the Buhari administration must respond appropriately to save unfortunate Nigerians from persistent cruelty of kidnappers.
Welfare of Soldiers on the War Front
I have persistently challenged the military leadership to address welfare issues of our gallant soldiers on the frontline in the North-east. Unfortunately, Defence Chief, Abayomi Olonisakin and his service chiefs have failed to respond appropriately. Just as I had hitherto reported, army chief, Tukur Buratai, on Monday confirmed that our gallant soldiers are being owed operational allowances running into three months. Tukur remarked: “Funds have been released from the Ministry of Defence to pay the outstanding operational allowances of troops fighting Boko Haram for the third quarter of 2017. The army will this week begin the payment of allowances owed the troops for the last two months accordingly. This is coming from the good news of the release of funds for the payment of operational allowances and logistics for the third quarter of 2017 from the Ministry of Defence.” Olonisakin, Sadiq Abubakar and Buratai should be embarrassed that soldiers on the war front are being owed as low as N600 feeding stipend per day. These three military chiefs have no business staying a day longer in office, because they have betrayed the trust of our gallant soldiers.
It took a letter from one of the brave soldiers on the war front to Buhari, before these commanders could admit the backlog of unpaid operational allowances. The anonymous soldier, who claimed to be a private writing from Damaturu, alleged that the soldiers on the frontline were being poorly treated as a result of massive corruption in the army. He also exposed the numerous cases of soldiers injured on the battlefield and given little or no attention.
The brave soldier said in his letter to Buhari: “Your Excellency, corruption in the army is real and it is killing us. While we expect to die in the hands of the enemy, we don’t expect to die in the hands of the army, due to corruption and criminal negligence. Just the other week, about 14, (I am not sure of the exact number) of our colleagues died in the hands of Boko Haram who attacked their camp. The circumstances surrounding their unnecessary death warrant a full investigation by his Excellency. Sir, you will be shocked at the outcome. The bodies of the slain heroes are still lying here in Damaturu.
“This is the third month in a row that we have been denied of our operational allowance. We have to rely only on our meagre salary for everything. From battalion commanders to company and sector leaders, we are all in debt, because our salaries are not enough to sustain us at the battlefield, let alone feeding our families back at home. It is a big shame that we have joined the army to defend the civilians, yet we have to go to the civilians in town to borrow money to fend for ourselves at the battlefield. Here, at the battlefront in Operation Lafiya Dole, the army spends about N600 per day on a soldier’s feeding, while in reality, billions of Naira is appropriated per year for this purpose. Your Excellency, we are treated like animals. Most of us are afraid to talk because of the dire consequences.”
Let me reiterate that our gallant soldiers are still ill-equipped. This is why Boko Haram often overruns them. It is also for this reason that the terrorists easily sacked the Sasawa military post (near Damaturu) last month. I have spent the last 30 months drawing attention to this incongruity without result.
Because our soldiers are ill-equipped, Boko Haram strolled into Bakin Dutse village in Adamawa State on Monday, killed scores of people and even advanced to Gulak, the headquarters of Madagali Local Government Area before local hunters aided our gallant soldiers to stop them. Terrified residents of Bakin Dutse and Gulak have since fled the towns and are hiding in the bush, mountains, and hills around them. This morning, I am challenging Olonisakin and Buratai to relocate to Sasawa and Madagali respectively, and directly take charge of affairs.
Still on the Farce in Pentecostal Churches
More Pentecostal pastors are joining the inglorious trend of having armed guards in their convoy; some even have these guards with them on the pulpit. They stand at alert on the podium while the pastor preaches. Apostle Tom Samson, the General Overseer of Christ Royal Family International Church, Lagos and Bishop David Oyedepo of Winners Chapel are deep into this weird trend. They are more comfortable with their security in the hands of men. Clearly, these pastors preach conviction but have no faith. I have also noticed this trend of asking their entranced followers to sow seed with money so that they can become rich. Haba! This is advance fee scam. No wonder emphasis is on prosperity preaching and payment of tithe in these churches instead of salvation.
They always invoke the Law of Moses to collect tithe and persistently threaten their followers not to join the few scrutinising them because “they are only answerable to God.” Our God is indeed merciful. On the flip side, the roforofo fight over money and property involving the founder and General Overseer of the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, Pastor Daniel Olukoya and two former pastors of MFM in the United States, should be an embarrassment to Christendom. For me, Christianity is about humility; it abhors materialism. But, here we have men of God fighting dirty over money and property. For those who have not been following the story, there is an ongoing lawsuit instituted in Maryland, USA, by MFM International against Lawrence Adetunji and Ronke Adetunji, two former pastors of MFM Bowie, Maryland. Also joined in the suit are 11 former members of MFM in Bowie, as well as Christ the Truth Ministries.
The former MFM members broke away to form Christ the Truth Ministries, and took with them the assets of MFM Bowie. Mr. and Mrs. Adetunji claimed that they worked for the assets and deserve to move with them to their new church. They took MFM’s properties, described as 5506 and 5503 Church Road in Bowie, Maryland, which were acquired in 2001 and 2004 respectively. For Olukoya, the property belongs to MFM headquarters by way of trust and should be returned to it. I quite agree with this submission. However, since Mr. and Mrs. Adetunji have clearly shown that they belong to Satan, I thought Pastor Olukoya would allow them to continue wallowing in deceit, hand them over to God and rebuild his church in the US from the scratch, instead of engaging in this worldly litigation. Unfortunately, Pastor Olukoya is also involved in this material roforofo fight. I don’t understand this kind of Christianity. Vengeance is mine, says the Lord.