ACROBATIC RELIGIOUSITY AND PARADOXICAL CRIMINALITY: WHO DID THIS TO NIGERIA?
Ishaq Akintola (Ph.D)
Department of Religions & Peace Studies,
Lagos State University (LASU)
Tel. 08033464974, 08182119714
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Convocation Lecture delivered at
on Friday, 29th September, 2017
ACROBATIC RELIGIOUSITY AND PARADOXICAL CRIMINALITY: WHO DID THIS TO NIGERIA?
The main problems confronting Nigeria today are corruption, insecurity, ethnicity and religiousity. Ethnicity is just a product of bad governance and the failure of the political class to fully integrate every tribe in the country. It is not as problematic as religiousity.
There is no gainsaying the fact that Nigerians are very religious. The proliferation of churches and mosques as well as the zeal for the performance of pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Makkah among the adherents of Christianity and Islam bear eloquent testimony to this assertion.
While one expects social cohesion, peace, harmony and the attendant economic progress in a society that attaches importance to religion, it is in the same Nigeria that corruption holds men and women in an iron grip, moral bankruptcy rules the day and crime rate soars to high heaven. The large presence of churches and mosques has failed to impact upon corruption, armed robbery, kidnapping and other vices. Nigerians spend most of their times on their knees in churches and on their mats in mosques, yet social vices and crimes are traced to the same religious practitioners. Who did this to Nigeria?
In their efforts to become more Christian than Jesus (peace be upon him) and more Muslim than Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), the law of diminishing returns has overwhelmed religious practitioners in Nigeria. Christians go to vigil while Muslims attend tahajjud at night only to get bolder at stealing tax payers’ money, to rob at gun point and to kill and maim in the day time. The more they go to church, the less they behave like Jesus (peace be upon him, PBUH). The more they frequent the mosque, the less they act like Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, PBUH). It is all about acrobatic religiousity and gymnastic criminality.
Although religion is expected to breed love, forgiveness, tolerance and unity, Nigerians have resisted these noble qualities. Most Nigerians ignore the bond of religion to don the garb of ethnicity. Therefore hate speeches rent the air and religious violence is a common occurrence.
Instead of acting as a detoxifying chemical, we find religion under the cloak of religiousity aiding and abetting the growth of corruption and criminality. Whereas religion, if properly applied, i.e. if it is not allowed to become excessive, should be the oil which lubricates the wheel of socio-economic progress by moulding the characters of men and engineering morality towards higher standard, the reverse has been the case in Nigeria. Here lies the paradox.
Consequently, politics looks more of a curse in Nigeria rather than a blessing. Infrastructure appears to have suffered a fatal injury. Nigerian roads are death traps. Many of its public hospitals are glorified public mortuaries. The education sector is in a state of coma. Electricity supply is epileptic. Nigeria groans under the burden of ungodly religiousity. We are tempted to ask, “Who did this to Nigeria?”
This convocation lecture contends that the solutions to corruption, insecurity and ethnicity in Nigeria will not be too far-fetched if we can resolve the irony in religiousity. This is so because the latter is expected to depopulate camps belonging to the former. Men are naturally expected to turn away from evil on finding religion. But this has not happened in Nigeria. It is true that Nigerians found religion, but it is equally true that they have abused it.
Just as a good physician will not rush to prescribe drugs for his patient without first examining him and conducting tests here and there, we will start the search for answers to the above questions by seeking to x-ray the main subject-matter, viz, religiousity.
We will concern ourselves with the two key words in the title of this Convocation Lecture, namely, religiousity and criminality.
Religiousity is from religion. It is intensive, extensive, excessive and superfluous application of religion. In short, religiousity is abuse of religion. It is the failure to apply moderation in matters of religion. The Springer Reference Work Entry defines religiousity as:
…An individual’s conviction, devotion, and veneration towards a
divinity. However, in its most comprehensive use, religiosity can
encapsulate all dimensions of religion, yet the concept can also
be used in a narrow sense to denote an extreme view and over-
dedication to religious rituals and traditions. This rigid form of
religiosity in essence is often viewed as a negative side of the
religious experience, it can be typified by an over involvement
in religious practices which are deemed to be beyond the social
norms of one’s faith.1
The Macmillan Dictionary (2016) defines religiousity as extreme interest and belief in religion2 while the American Heritage Dictionary (1969) calls it excessive interest in religion.3 Websters College Dictionary (2010) traces the etymological background of the word ‘religiousity’ to the Latin religiōsitās4.
Yet defining the word ‘religiousity’ itself alone is not enough if we really want to get to the root of the matter. We must trace the origin and meaning of the word ‘religion’ itself to discover what Nigerians are doing wrongly in the way they practice religion. We must therefore ask, ‘What is religion’?
The word ‘religion’ is from the Latin ‘religio’, meaning ‘to link up’. The Portuguese word ‘liga’ also means ‘to link’. This is synonymous with ‘yoga’ in sankskrit which also means ‘to link up with God’5. It has also been suggested that the word ‘religion’ came from the Middle English ‘religioun’ which in turn came from the old French ‘religion’ or from the Latin word ‘religo’, i.e. ‘ritual’ or ‘good faith’ or from the Latin ‘religare’ meaning ‘to tie fast’6.
All the above etymological connotations tend to support the idea that religion is about linking or bringing people together closer to God, the Supreme Creator. They suggest both vertical and horizontal links between man and his Creator as well as man and his neighbour in closer and cordial ties respectively. These definitions stand in contra-distinction to the way Nigerians practice religion because instead of bringing us closer, we have allowed religion to tear us apart.
More explicit definitions of the word ‘religion’ have not differed from its etymological meaning. Adeleye (1984) defines religion as the human attitude towards a sacred order that includes within it all beings human or otherwise.7 Paul Tillich (1995) of the ‘alt.memetics’ group calls it “the state of being grasped by an ultimate concern”. Jerry Moyer (1995) of the same group describes it as “a system of beliefs by which a people reduce anxiety over natural phenomena through some means of explication”. Scott Hatfield (1996) defined it as “a procedure, process or structure whose orientation is at least partially supernatural”.8
Irving Hexham (2011) of the Department of Classics and Religion, University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, was able to assemble a list of definitions of religion from different theologians. He supplied George Hegel’s (1894 Philosophy of Mind 1894) “the knowledge possessed by the finite mind of its nature as absolute mind.” He equally revealed William James’(2000) definition of religion in The Varieties of Religious Experience as “the belief that there is an unseen order and that our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves thereto”. He also gave Alfred North Whitehead’s (1926) own definition in his book Religion in The Making as “What the individual does with his own solitariness”.9
The internet alone provides more than thirty eight million, eight hundred thousand (38,800,000) definitions for the word ‘religion’. Yet none of them comes close to implying violent attacks on one another, killing and maiming of fellow homo sapiens, destruction of properties, bringing down one’s own country, hatred, envy, denial, deprivation and encroachment on the rights of people of other faiths as found in Nigeria. We are constrained to ask, “Who did this to Nigeria?”
The word ‘criminality’ is from ‘crime’. It is any behaviour that is contrary to or forbidden by criminal law.10 Criminality is the state of being illegal.11 or state of being criminal.12 It is any act that fails to conform with criminal law13
However, defining the root word ‘crime’ is more complicated. This is why erstwhile criminologist, Hazel Croall (1998), wonders:
How can crime be defined? …There is no one straightforward
way of defining crime and differentiating it from other activities.
at first sight it seems easy to define crime as it might, for example,
be seen as doing something wrong. Crime is often, therefore,
related to morality. The simplest way of defining crime is to see
it as ‘something which is against the criminal law’ and it could be
argued that the only common characteristic of ‘crimes’ is that at
some time they have been made subject to the criminal law. This
involves using public as opposed to private enforcement and
According to Wilson and Petersilia (1995), by ‘crime’ we mean what the average person thinks of as predatory or street crime like muggings, murders, assaults, rapes, robberies, burglaries and other thefts.15 Schneider and Kitchen (2002) cited the Oxford English Dictionary (1982:603) which defines crime as “an act punishable by law, as being forbidden by statutes or injurious to the public welfare.”16
Most criminologists use a legal definition when they define crime. Others broaden its definition to include anti-social or deviant attitude. Exempli gratia, Black (1979) in Black’s Law Dictionary, gives a legal definition of crime as:
An act committed or omitted in violation of a law forbidding or
commanding it, and to which is annexed, upon conviction, either,
or a combination of the following punishments: (1) death; (2)
imprisonment; (3) fine; (4) removal from office; (5) disqualifica-
tion to hold and enjoy any office of honour, trust or profit.17
3.0.0 Criminal Propensities Among Religionists:
In spite of the proliferation of churches and mosques in the country, nearly all crimes known on earth are committed in Nigeria. Nigerians are into white collar crime, organized crime, political, economic corruption and cyber crime. In a 2013 survey conducted by the Sheriff Deputies entitled The Anatomy of Crimes in Nigeria: A Statistical Study, it was discovered that:
more than 7 out of 10 Nigerians (72%) had the fear of becoming
victims of crime. Across States, Ogun and Ondo State recorded
the highest with 94%, while Benue and Taraba State recorded
the lowest with 38%. The national average stood at 72%. Analy-
sing by gender, 73% of females feared becoming victims of crime
compared to 71% of males.18
The study found that Kaduna, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States topped the list of states with the highest rate of armed robberies (43-39%), Kano had the lowest percentage (3%) while Kwara had 8%. South South had the highest incidence of rape with 10%, North East had 6%, South West and North West recorded 4% each while North Central where Kwara is situated had 3%. Despite the rise in the number of churches and mosques, rape incidents rose from 3% in 2011 to 5% in 2013. South West had the highest percentage of kidnapping with 5%, South East and South South had 4% each, North West and North East had 3% each while North Central had only 2%. The theft of mobile phones is the numero uno crime in Nigeria and Taraba State leads with 64% while Kwara has 59%.19
The World Data Atlas has also supplied useful statistics on crime in Nigeria. According to the authoritative global data suppliers, 16,996 people were killed in Nigeria in 2010 alone, rising by 3.49% from 2005 when only 16,423 persons were killed. This is an indubitable pointer to the fact that the rise in the number of religious houses has failed to curtail crime. Homicide rate in the same period was put at 10.7% of 100,000 population. The global data expert also reported that a total of 574 people were kidnapped in Nigeria in 2013. This reflects a sharp rise as only 277 people were abducted in 2007.20
It was only in rape cases that a fall was reported. Although 800 rape cases were reported in 2013, a higher figure of 1,425 was reported in 2007, implying that rape was down by 48.22% from 2007.21 But this may be as a result of the unwillingness of rape victims to come forward to lodge reports and not as a direct result of any meaningful effort on the part of law enforcement agencies or religious bodies.
According to Saadat Bibire, the founder of Saab Foundation, Kwara recorded 1,000 rape cases in 2016.22 If Kwara State alone could record 1,000 rape cases in 2016, the total number of cases nationwide must be higher than what is being reported officially.
There is enough evidence that crime rate has not reduced in recent times. The Kwara State Police Command reported that it prosecuted 104 criminal cases in six months only from July to December 2016. These involved six cases of kidnap, 42 armed robbery cases, 10 homicide cases, 38 cultists and eight cases of rape.23
In a report released in June 2017, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that Kwara State alone recorded 327 offences against persons in 2016, 614 offences against property, 21 offences against lawful authority and 22 offences against local acts. The total of all the offences is 984 representing 0.78% of the 125,790 total reported cases in Nigeria in 2016.22
The question that readily comes to mind is what happened to Ilorin (at least we call this city ‘Ilorin ilu Alfa’, meaning the city of Islamic scholars), the city that is revered for the large number of great Islamic scholars like the legendary Shaykh Adam Abdullahi Al-Aluri and the late Shakh Kamaldeen Al-Adabi.
How did this same city which is humorously referred to as being very close to Al-Jannah (Paradise, Ilu to jinna si ina to sunmo Alujanna) become a safe haven for rapists? What have the mosques been doing? But giant churches and large Christian groups have also taken root in Ilorin. So what have the churches been doing? Why are criminals taking over the city? We are constrained to ask, “Who did this to Ilorin?”
The executive summary of the 2016 annual crime report of NBS reveals enough about crime rate in Nigeria as a whole:Executive Summary
Crime Statistics on reported offences reflected that a total of
125,790 cases were reported in 2016. Offence against property
has the highest number of cases reported with 65,397 of such
cases reported. Offence against persons recorded 45,554 cases
reported while offence against lawful authority and local acts
recorded the least with 12,144 and 2,695 cases recorded
respecttively. Lagos State has the highest percentage share of
total cases reported with 36.08% and 45,385 cases recorded.
FCT Abuja and Delta State followed closely with 10.48% and
13,181 and 6.25% and 7,867 cases recorded respectively.
Katsina State has the lowest percentage share of total cases
reported with 0.10% and 120 cases recorded. Abia and Zamfara
States followed closely with 0.29% and 364 and 0.38% and 483
cases recorded respectively.25
The above listed crimes may be said to represent those committed by ordinary Nigerians who lay no claims to leadership in religious circles. They can therefore be easily overlooked as nothing out of the ordinary. But an overwhelming majority belongs to the two major religions in the country, viz, Christianity and Islam.
Although we are aware that adherents of traditional religion are equally involved, we are inclined to restrict our investigations to the two major religions for two reasons: one, because the percentage of traditional worshippers in the country is infinitesimally small and, two, in order to be economical with time and space.
It is worrisome that despite the acrobatic religiousity of the Christian folks and the gymnastic exhibition of piety by Muslims, it is paradoxical that pastors, Imams and Alfas are being caught in criminal activities just like members of their congregations. A few examples may suffice to convince us and we are going to start with those who claim to be Islamic scholars but engage in criminal and Mephistophelean activities.
3.1.0 Islamic Clerics in Mephistophelean Activities:
The Daily Trust of Thursday 3rd August, 2017, published the story of an Ilorin-based Islamic cleric (Alfa) who allegedly exhumed his friend’s corpse for ritual purpose. The cleric who lived in Oloje area of the city reportedly exhumed the body of his childhood friend, Sulaiman, seven days after he had been buried and brought the decomposing body to his room.26
Apart from ritual being the most likely motive, murder is also suspected because the Alfa had gone out with the deceased on the day the latter died and the victim had complained of stomach ache on his return. It is not unlikely that Alfa deliberately poisoned Sulaiman. It is also not unlikely that he knew where he would be buried and had planned how the corpse would be exhumed. There could only be one motive behind this dastardly act, namely, ritual, either for money or for demonic power.
Yet the Alfa is very young, just in his thirties. What sort of power could a young man be looking for? How can the quest for wealth push a youthful Alfa to commit ritual murder? This is a glaring example of paradoxical criminality in the face of acrobatic religiousity.
This Alfa cannot claim ignorance of the contents and lessons of the Glorious Qur’an 104:1-9 which forbids the rush for and accumulation of wealth and threatens culprits with severe punishment on yaom al-Qiyamah (the Day of Judgement):
Woe unto every scandal-monger and back-biter who piles up
wealth and lays it by, thinking that his wealth will make him
live forever. By no means! He will be thrown into that which
breaks to pieces. And how will you know what breaks to pieces?
It is the fire of Allah that mounts up to the hearts. It will be built
into a vault over them in outstretched columns. (Qur’an 104:1-9)
This Ilorin-based Alfa is not the only Islamic scholar who has tarnished the image of decent ones. While writing this Convocation Lecture three weeks ago, another Islamic cleric was caught after an attempt to use a lady for money ritual. The incident occurred on Wednesday, 6th September 2017 in Magbon, Obele Esepe town, Olorunda Local Government Development Area of Badagry. The lady who was said to be from Ibadan, Oyo state capital, survived the ritual attempt.27
Alfa Fatai Afobaje, another Islamic scholar was arrested by the police for killing his best friend, 40 years old Rafiu Suleiman, for money ritual. The incident occurred in Morogbo area of Agbara, Lagos State in February 2015. Ironically, the victim, Rafiu Suleiman from Kwara State, had been helping the alfa financially for years before he was killed by the same alfa.28
Operatives of the Special Fraud Unit (SFU), Ikoyi, Lagos State, arrested a 34-year-old self-acclaimed alfa identified as Isiaka Adeleke who allegedly defrauded his childhood friend who came to him for prayers to expand his business. Marvel Naija, a Nigerian online newspaper, reports inter alia:
The complainant, who reportedly took the N8 million loan to expand
his dwindling business, told operatives that he confided in Adeleke
that he intended to use the money to buy a truck for his business.
However, in the process, Yusuf was said to have demanded for the
money to enable him go into the spiritual realm to tackle spiritual
forces hindering the success of his friend’s business. However, the
victim returned a week later as instructed, only to discover that
Yusuf had changed residence.29
This is a glaring example of where greed has led Nigerians. Isiaka’s friend had N8 million cash which was meant for his business but he was not satisfied and, like Oliver Twist, he wanted more. This was at a time that many Nigerians would have fainted if they saw N1 million only and they would have thanked their Creator for the blessing. How many businessmen have access to N1 million naira cash to expand their business today? But Isiaka’s friend had N8 million naira in his pocket and instead of facing his business with it he thought of visiting a marabout.
Another self-professed Islamic cleric who goes by the name Jamiu Mukaila was also apprehended by the police in Isolo, Lagos State, for deceiving a 34-year-old woman into engaging in a three-day sex deliverance exercise aimed at casting some evil spirit out of her. This was after the so-called alfa had collected the sum of N350,000 for the ‘deliverance’. According to Naij.com:
The cleric, named Jamiu Mukaila, did not only defraud one Bose
Alele to the tune of N350,000, but went on to engage her in a 3-day marathon s*x (sic) under the false pretence of casting evil spirit out
of her. Sources revealed that Jamiu approached her and introduced
himself as Alfa, telling her that he had a revelation from God concer-
ning making her life better.30
We cannot help but enquire, “Who did this to Nigeria?” Is there no line of demarcation between religion and foolishness? Must we be naïve to be religious? This woman obviously lost on two grounds. One: she gave her body freely, cheaply and stupidly to a pretender. Two: She went out of her way to pay a huge amount of money for her own sexual abuse. It is the height of gymnastic religiousity on her part and paradoxical criminality on the part of the counterfeit alfa.
In a related development, two ‘Muslim clerics’ were picked up by police detectives for allegedly defrauding local and foreign businessmen of the sum of N10 million. The suspects were Fatai Bamidele and Lateef Ahmed. they reportedly paraded themselves as Muslim clerics to defraud innocent members of the public of their money. They allegedly operated a shrine in Ilorin, Kwara State where they took victims and made them to take oaths of secrecy.31
The fact that those defrauded readily succumbed to oath-taking is symptomatic of desperation for cupidity and uncontrollable avarice because it is difficult to lure people who have self-satisfaction and who are not looking for easy money. It is only those who wish to reap where they did not sow who fall easy preys to fraudsters.
Gazali Akewusola claimed to be an Islamic cleric and a native doctor. At 60, he specialized in ritual killing and selling human parts. He reportedly proclaimed that human meat is delicious. However, he met his Waterloo on May 22, 2013 when five of his gang were arrested by the police in Owode, Ogun State, for selling human parts. He confessed that he used to help those who want to get rich quickly to realize their dream by killing human beings for them and using their parts. The remaining parts were usually sold while he used to eat the rest.
The Gazelle News reports:
He used to sell one head N3,000 depending on the market
price and sometimes he sells at N8,000 per head. The soft
bones that can easily be grinded into powder are very cheap
so I can pay any small amount to carry the pieces of bones.
Sometimes I pay N1,000…32
Gazali, the black sheep among Islamic clerics, gave gory details of his demonic escapades, especially the reason why he preferred buying kidnapped live human beings:
You get a lot of parts especially costly parts from it and it is more
powerful because the efficacy of the charm or concoction you
prepare with live part cannot be compared with the ones you
prepare with dead parts. For instance, the full life human being
will give you blood when you kill him which you can use to prepare
some medicine or charm. The same body will give you hairs from
private parts, head and some beards or mustache. You can also cut
out private parts. Each part of human being is useful. Even the meat
and intestine, liver, heart, eyes, lips, tongues can be used for pepper
soup. If you buy a full human being for N30,000 or N40,000 and
slice him into pieces, you can end up getting N100,000 or more
because you get more than ten parts and therefore can yield good
The fact that he confessed that he used to enjoy taking alcoholic drinks when eating the human meat exposes him as a fake Islamic scholar. He said:
Human meat tastes so good especially when taken with hot drink,
wine or beer but the most essence of eating it is to assure those who patronize me that it is eatable and sweet especially for spiritual and
physical benefits. It can cure serious illness and can make one get
Shock, palpable fear and pandemonium seized residents of Isheri-Oshun in Ejigbo, Lagos State, on 16th March, 2017 following the ritual killing of a three-year-old child, Chigozie Okereke, allegedly by one Kazeem Alimson who claims to be an Islamic cleric. Simon Kanu, a fifteen-year-old boy, confessed that he was given N500 (five hundred naira only) to lure the small child. He confirmed that the baby was killed with a big stone in his presence.35
It is obvious that this is inhuman, luciferous and Mephistophelian. Alfa Kazeem Alimson could only have been serving Shaytan and its accursed agents with this horrifying wickedness. How can somebody claim that he is not only religious but he is also an Islamic cleric only to demonically stone a baby to death? What kind of ritual is that?
The story of another Islamic cleric and two others who confessed to the ritual killing of a student of the Osun State University (UNIOSUN) sent shivers down the spines of Nigerians in July 2017. Sakariyau Abdul Rofiu; Ibrahim Ayuba and Yusuf Aliu confessed that they killed Oluwafemi Shonibare, a student of UNIOSUN. The victim was hit on the head with a pestle. They later roasted her head and butchered the rest of her body.36
Yet another fiendish Imam was arraigned in court recently for beheading a worshipper who came to seek spiritual help from him. 38-year-old Oluwakemi Afolabi offered Salat behind Imam Taofeek Adams for several years. Feeling the need for spiritual help, Oluwafemi approached his Imam but instead of assisting him, the Imam beheaded Oluwafemi. It was the height of deceit, betrayal and criminality. This incident occurred on 19th March, 2017 at Waterside, Ikoga-Zebbe, Badagry area, Lagos State.37
One is inclined to ask, “Who did this to Islamic scholars?” Who turned them into Mr. Jekyll and Hyde: alfa by day but cannibals at night? Is it here alone that Islam is practiced? Who did this to Nigeria?
3.2.0 Christian Clerics in Mephistophelean Activities:
If the Islamic clerics whose examples are cited above have been infernal, those of their Christian counterparts have out-Heroded Herod.
The Ogun State Police command arrested Pastor Adekunle Francis for defiling a teenage girl in an uncompleted building in November 2016. The pastor admitted guilt but attributed it to the work of ‘Satan’.38 53-year-old Pastor Gabriel Asateru also appeared before an Ado Ekiti Magistrate Court for allegedly defiling a five-year-old girl in Ifishin, Oye Local Government Area of Ekiti State on December 23, 2016. Pastor Asateru was able to defile the under-aged girl by petting her and making her to sit on his lap.39
Thirty young girls whose ages range between twelve and fifteen were rescued from a church in Shogunle area of Lagos. Police accused the general overseer of the church of sexually molesting the girls. The girls were assembled in the church’s facility as part of the church’s efforts towards assisting vulnerable elements in society. But a female member of the church later alerted the police after accusing him of pestering her with requests for sex. 40
This is disgraceful debauchery. ‘Men of God’ as adulterers and fornicators are bad enough but ‘men of God’ as paedophiles are definitely worse. We are constrained to ask who these paedophile pastors are following. Do they want to be like Jesus or like Lucifer? Who did this to the church? God, Satan or man?
Jesus taught his followers to love children when he said:
Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the
Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (Mathew 19:14 New
It is this biblical verse that is turned to a Yoruba song in churches:
E je k’omode ko wa o, e je k’omode o wa (2ce)
Jojolooo, omode kekere jojolo oun lore Olodumare,
E je k’omode o wa.
The pastor of a popular new generation pentecostal church who has been having sexual relations with a orphaned girl since she was ten years old was exposed by the victim when the latter was hospitalized after the pastor took her to a quack doctor for the fourth abortion at the age of sixteen. She laments:
He usually invited me to bring water to his room at night. There-
after, he would give me some drugs… This is my fourth pregnancy
he has aborted. When he took me to the doctor that has been carrying
out the abortion on me, the doctor refused, saying he had been doing
it right from when I was 10 years. The doctor opened up to me that
there could be complications if the pregnancy was terminated. He
took me to another place that looked like a laboratory on Monday,
where I was laid on a slab. I begged the doctor not to do anything,
but they pinned me down and the doctor induced me to sleep. When
I woke up, I discovered that they had flushed out the pregnancy…41
The girl slumped on her way to school the next day, bleeding from her private part. Sympathisers rushed her to an hospital. Medical examinations revealed that a quack doctor had wrongly carried out an abortion on her and the pastor was arrested in his residence at No. 6, Dolamo Street, Agodo-Egbe, Lagos State.
The fact that a ‘man of God’ can be so callous engaging in criminal paedophilic activities with a ten-year-old minor and continuing to sexually exploit the poor orphan for six good years reveals the thin line between religiousity and paradoxical criminality.
Yet another pastor, Johnson Adeleke, seized the opportunity of a night vigil held in the house of the parents of a 14-year-old girl to rape her. He disvirgined the little girl and threatened to kill her if she informed her parents. The pastor was sentenced to five years imprisonment without an option of fine for his misdemeanor.42
Members of the Celestial Church of Christ, Abule Egba parish, situated on Unity Street, Abule Egba, Lagos State, were shocked to their marrows when their pastor told them in January 2016 that God spoke to him and asked him to set one of them ablaze “to exhibit His might”. Surprisingly, one of the parishioners simply identified as Abosede who volunteered to be used as the sacrificial lamb suffered first degree burns and was hospitalized after the ‘baptism of fire’.
The flabbergasted members simply left the church in droves to avoid being the next victims. Abosede laments:
Our prophet said the spirit of God whispered to him that I would not
burn if he sets me on fire. When I came out among the congregation,
they poured kerosene on my body and set me ablaze. But unfortuna-
tely I was burnt and before the other church members could get water
to pour on me and put out the fire, the deed had been done.43
Defending his criminal action after he was arrested by the police, the pastor said:
I heard the voice of God clearly, telling me to burn the member
alive, that nothing would happen to her. But I don’t know what
happened after we set fire on her (sic). God has been speaking to
me since and it has been working, so I wonder why this happened
The dilemma facing Nigerians today is where and how to differentiate between fake religious clerics and genuine ones. This dilemma manifests in their exhibition of outright foolishness when they attempt to display ‘strong faith’. Abosede volunteered herself as the sacrificial lamb out of her strong faith in her pastor. But nothing stopped the congregation from asking the pastor to try his miracle first on himself or on one of his children. Yet nobody dared him.
The tragedy facing Nigerian church-goers (and mosque-goers too) is their blind hero-worshipping which inhibits their ability to differentiate between God (or Allah) and the pastor (or the Imam). Religious clerics also, particularly Christian clergymen, have mistaken the fanatical submission and reverence from their followers for absolute divinity. They therefore mistake fiction for reality and fallacy for reality. This explains why many of them claim to hear the voice of God particularly when it ‘tells them do perform harmful miracles’.
The General Overseer of the Christian Praying Assembly, Rev. Chukwuemeka Ezeugo, a.k.a Reverend King, was sentenced to death by hanging on January 11, 2007 for the murder of a member of his church by name Ann Uzor. Reverend King had poured petrol on six members of his church and set fire to them. Uzor died on 2nd August, 2006. The remaining five members survived. Consequently, the court sentenced Reverend King to twenty years imprisonment for attempted murder and death by hanging for murder. Although Reverend King sought the intervention of appellate courts, the Supreme Court finally confirmed the death sentence on February 26th, 2016.45
Abia State-born priest and founder of Divine Power Pentecostal Church, Rev. Emmanuel Ogbonaya Okereke, has revealed how a popular bishop staged a fake miracle:
I invited on of the bishops I respect so much …While we were
waiting for him, a lady walked into the church. I got a vision that
she was fake but I never knew what that was about. Minutes later
the bishop walked in. as soon as he started preaching, he began
to prophesy that there is a woman in the church whose husband
is a cultist. He said that the man killed nine of her children and
was also after her. Suddenly, the lady started shaking pretending
to fall under anointing. Everybody was excited in church that
day and came out for prayers. I became suspicious because of
the vision that I had earlier. I was able to get her number and
called her days later.
I called her and pretended to be a man of God, but before I could
complete a sentence, she asked if I was the one who brought her
to Lagos to perform a miracle. She went ahead to accuse me of not
taking care of her people the last time they went to Nnewi for a
crusade. I told her who I was and she switched off her phone. I later
called the bishop and he was embarrassed at what I know. I never
belived it could happen till I became a victim.46
Nigerians must be wary when next they hear people talking about miracles.
The pastor of a white garment church in Sagamu, Kehinde Onayiga, was arrested by the police in Abeokuta in August 2017. Pastor Onayiga contracted a man to get a virgin girl for ritual purpose. Thirteen-year-old Anuoluwapo Ajisafe, a virgin girl who had been declared missing since June 21, 2017, was the victim. The evil accomplice admits:
I was able to lure the girl because she knew me and the mother,
too, knew me. It was the pastor (Onayiga) that contracted me to
help him get a female virgin for ritual. He told me he wanted to
prepare some charms for some Yahoo boys. I delivered the girl
to him in his church at Sagamu. He promised to pay me N20,000,
but I am yet to get the money.47
Just last month, i.e. August 2017, another pastor was arrested for burying two kids inside his church in Ogun State. He paid N50,000 for each child to those who brought them.48 Earlier in May 2017, the Oyo State Police Command arrested and detained a pastor who was caught with a human head, buffalo horn, gun powder and other charms.49
In the same state (Ogun), the police discovered a church under which human parts were allegedly buried. The parts were allegedly buried at the church’s entrance and other strategic places within the premises. 77-year-old Pastor Samuel Babatunde of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church, Itedo-Isimi in Iyana Iyesi, Ado-Odo, Ota, allegedly contracted a serial kidnapper, Jeremiah Adeola, who was caught by the police. Human parts were dug out of spots in the church as directed by Jeremiah.50
A seven-year-old boy was allegedly beheaded by Pastor Adedoyin Oyekan in June 2017. His head was immediately buried under the altar of Pastor Oyekan’s church in Odo-Kekere, Odogunyan, in Ikorodu area of Lagos State. A man simply identified as Eric confessed to the police and led the latter to the altar where the head was recovered. The body was later found in the canal. Eric confessed that the boy’s father who was his friend had left him in his care but he took him to the pastor for ritual purpose based on an earlier request by the pastor.51
An Edo State pastor, Abel Eku, planted explosives in a church in order to blow it up. The bombs were planted in the church on 22 January, 2017 just before the commencement of its international conference. According to him, he attempted to destroy the church building and kill as many people as possible because he was sacked after serving the church for twenty five years. Fortunately, some members spotted strange objects and called the police who detonated the explosives.52
The repercussion of such an explosion is better imagined. The whole world would have accused Muslims of being behind the attack if the terrorist pastor had succeeded.
4.0.0 Both Christians and Muslims Are Involved in Corruption:
Reports have shown that both Christians and Muslims are involved in corrupt practices. In 1999, Chuba Okadigbo collected thirty nine million naira (N39m) as Senate President just for Christmas.53 Abubakar Haruna, who was his deputy, received sixteen million nine hundred thousand naira (N16.9m) just for Id al-Kabir (Muslim festival).54 These are Christian and Muslim politicians and it shows that corruption has no religion.
There are more examples. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recovered N593 million jewellery from Diezani and the wife of Jide Omokore.55 The Federal Government discovered 23,000 ghost workers in the federal civil service while a single civil servant was found collecting twenty salaries every month.56 Former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, reportedly took N558 million from the funds of the Nigerian Air Force every month57 while Joshua Dariye allegedly diverted N1.2 billion ecological fund.58 Ten senators failed to submit their credentials for screening in 1999.59
The late General Sani Abacha (rtd) reportedly looted more than five billion British pounds from Nigeria.60
5.0.0 Have the Church and Mosque Failed?
John Meyendorff (1981) gives a good insight into the role of the church.61 Neill and Weiber (1963) also furnish us with additional and highly enriched list of functions of the church, the clergy and the laymen.62 Ajala (2001) identifies about eight functions expected of the mosque63 while Muhammed Iyya Maina also highlights eleven roles performed by the mosque.64
Brantinghan and Brantingham (1981) contend that crime cannot take place unless four things are in concurrence: a law, an offender, a target and a place.65 If without an offender there can be no crime and it can be safely assumed, albeit hypothetically, that the Nigerian ‘offender’ has a place of worship, then the pastor or Imam can take care of the ‘offender’ in the interest of public safety. If this happens, i.e. if the pastor or Imam can neutralize the prospective ‘offender’, crime will be drastically reduced in society.
Since scholars agree that apart from their primary function of serving as places of worship, churches and mosques are places for moulding the minds of the faithful, for diplomatic missions and as centers for counseling, we must ask ourselves how many minds Nigerian churches and mosques have moulded? How many diplomatic missions it has initiated and how much of positive counseling it has done? Which of the Nigerian mosques moulded the minds of Boko Haram in its campaign of terror? How did Ozubulu church mould the mind of Evans the king of kidnappers?66
The Glorious Qur’an says life is sacred (Qur’an 6:151) and compares the killing of a single person to the killing of all men on earth (5:32); Boko Haram massacres their fellow human beings. The Qur’an says women must be married with the permission of their parents (Qur’an 4:25); Boko Haram kidnaps women and marry them forcefully.
Jesus (PBUH) taught his followers to love their enemies, saying:
Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, so that you
can be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun
rise on the evil and on the good; and sends down rain on the just
and the unjust (Mathew 5: 43-45)
He also instructed them to love their neighbours:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all
your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and
your neighbour as yourself (Luke 10: 27)
The incessant religious crisis in the country occasioned by endless provocative and confrontational stance and hate statements belie the adherence of Christian leaders to the true teachings of Jesus (PBUH). For instance, poor interpersonal relations between Christians and Muslims have led to rebuffs and altercations during simple exchange of greetings.
Although Jesus (PBUH) greeted the disciples with the words, ‘peace be unto you’ (John 20:19) and he taught his followers to always utter the same greeting whenever they enter any house (Luke 10:5) ignorance has led some Christians to protest when Muslims offer them their own common greeting, ‘Salaam alaykunm’, which also means ‘peace be unto you’. Instead of responding politely, some Christians have rebuffed Muslims who greet them in this manner.
The Muslims are equally guilty of the same poor interpersonal relation and manifestation of ignorance as some reject prayers offered by Christians in their presence simply because the refrain, ‘in the name of Jesus’ has been added. Such Muslims have forgotten that Jesus (PBUH) is also the same prophet ‘Isa (PBUH) whose name is also invoked by Muslims during certain prayers, e.g.:
Oh Allah! Grant my wishes by the grace of Adam, Nuh, Ibrahim
Musa, Isa and Muhammad peace and blessings of Allah be upon
It has become glaring that the police needs the support of the general public to prevent and combat crime. The best way to go about this is to enroll the support of the churches and mosques. With only about 310,177 policemen,68 another 33,000 in the Department of State Security (DSS)69 and roughly 194,000 soldiers made up of 162,000 active personnel and 32,000 reserve personnel,70 Nigerian security agencies are ill-prepared to fight crime due to a huge numerical deficiency.
It should be noted that the United Nations recommends a minimum of one policeman to every four hundred and forty eight (448) civilians. But with Nigeria’s population standing at 193.3 million (193,392,517 to be exact) as at December 2016 according to the National Bureau of Statistics report71, the country’s police/country’s population ratio is approximately 1:623.
This means only one policeman is guarding 623 civilians in Nigeria when the city of Tokyo alone has 43,273 policemen (the world’s biggest metropolitan police force) with another 3,095 part-time police officers as at 2012. New York city follows Tokyo with 36,000 officers. The third is Hong Kong which parades 28,191 men.72
If one policeman is expected to guard 448 civilians, ceteris paribus, there should be at least 431,679 policemen in the country instead of the current 310, 177 police personnel. This implies a shortfall of 121,502. It is obvious, therefore, that Nigeria has not met global best practices in police/country’s ratio.
It is for this numerical deficiency in the Nigerian police that the support of churches and mosques in preventing crime becomes sine qua non. But instead of providing this support, Nigerian churches and mosques have expanded the crime horizon by competing most irrationally in the exhibition of their nuisance values.
This nuisance value is mainly manifested in their promotion of noise pollution as night vigil in churches and tahajjud in the mosques blare unbearable noise in Nigerian neighbourhoods to the highest decibel. Whereas the normal decibel level should be sixty five during the day and fifty five at night, Nigerian churches and mosques expose people in their neighbourhoods to 150 percent decibel for more than six hours per day.
This is atrocious because apart from other side effects, noise pollution leads to general deafness among the citizenry. This alone is tantamount to the silent killing of a large number of people. It is therefore a crime against humanity. Other side effects include increase in road accidents as motorists who ply the roads in the day time cannot get enough sleep during the night, leading to drowsiness and loss of concentration on the wheels. It also leads to poor performance in academics as students cannot study effectively due to the high level of noise.
Unfortunately church and mosque-goers who are responsible for the noise are unaware of the effect on the performance of their own children in the school. Here lies the problem: ignoramuses are leading their peers to deafness and death in the name of religion. Religious overzealousness must therefore take the lion share for the current fall in the standard of education in the country. Who did this to Nigeria? Is it God or is it Nigerians themselves? I leave the answer to Nigerians.
Based on the observation that noise pollution in places of worship is becoming unbearable, at least two state governments in Nigeria, Lagos73 and Oyo74, have taken steps to criminalise noise pollution in churches and mosques. If what is good for the goose is also good for the gander, the government of Kwara State is called upon to act decisively and speedily in this regard in the interest of public safety, for the health of the good people of Kwara State and to improve the academic performance of children in the schools.
Churches and mosques have also contributed to criminality by their nonchalant attitude to traffic rules and the right of road-users. Roads are blocked by Muslims particularly during Jum‘ah prayer while Christians also cause traffic gridlock during their crusades.
Although Muslims may want to argue that blockade during Jum‘ah prayer is for only one hour while traffic congestion caused by Christian camps on expressways sometimes last for 48 hours, we are constrained to call a blockade a blockade, no matter how short. The difference is what is between six and half a dozen. What each group should do is to provide effective traffic control mechanism and alternative route where possible. Insensitivity concerning the feelings of others simply compounds religiousity with impunity.
In the same vein, churches and mosques boost the morale of criminal elements in their midst by idolizing them with religious titles. When last did any mosque turban the man who always arrive first in the mosque early in the morning and the poor man who fills all the kettles with water everyday? When will the churches start recognizing the poor gardners and prayer warriors in merit awards? Why do we reserve special seats in the house of God for the wealthy and influential in society even when they arrive late?
By and large, the Nigerian society will be a better place if religious leaders will rein in their overzealous followers. Permit me to round up with a personal experience as an explanation for this. Just two days to Id al-Kabir, a Muslim brother called me asking our organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) to ask the Lagos State Government to remove the statues and huge bill boards mounted inside the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, because those objects disturb Muslims who use the stadium for ‘Id prayers. He reminded me that photographs and statues are haram in Islam.
I responded by telling him that stadia are built for sports and not for religion. They are for all Nigerians whether they are Christians, Muslims, traditionalists and atheists and not for Muslims alone. I told him point blank that government is doing Muslims a favour by allowing them to use the facility during the ‘Id, therefore, we should not take liberty for licence. I reminded him that Muslims must also know their limits. The caller hurriedly hanged up.
Nigeria is a complex society. It is riddled with crime yet too religious by half. Its acrobatic religiousity led it to paradoxical criminality. Nigerians spend more time in worshipping and praise-singing than they do on working and moving the economy of their country forward. For failing to promote harmony among themselves, Nigerians appear to have missed the essence of religion whose etymological root in various languages of the world implies linkage, bondage, tying or binding together.
Instead of engendering love, forgiveness, sharing and caring, religiousity in Nigeria has led to hate speeches, denial, deprivation, poverty, ignorance, disease and outright killing, maiming and destruction of properties. Instead of offering positive life-moulding counsel, religious clerics have become harbingers of ritual killing and cannibalism and money has become ‘the dot in the com’, not God, not Allah.
In view of the fact that the security agencies are overwhelmed, Nigerian churches and mosques must rise to the challenge of crime prevention by providing timely counseling to their congregations. This is one of the cardinal roles of places of worship.
Sandwiched between fanatical Christians and extremist Muslims whose only common denominator is paradoxical criminality, Nigeria stands on a dangerous precipice. Who did this to Nigeria? Is it God or Allah? Is it the church or the mosque? Or is it Nigerians themselves? Posterity will provide the answer.
- Nigerians should learn the golden lessons in the dignity of labour and desist from chasing easy money.
- Nigerians should spend more time on hard work than on their knees and mats praying.
- People should believe more in Allah or God than in their fellow human beings.
- Nigerians should avoid excessive manifestation of religion both publicly and privately.
- Worshippers are advised to do more of self-help when seeking spiritual support since many clerics have proved unreliable and dangerous.
- Parents and custodians should not allow their little girls to sit on men’s laps.
- Parents and guardians should closely monitor the movements of their under-aged and unmarried daughters and wards.
- Members whose leaders claim to have the power to perform miracles should ask such leaders to either experiment the miracle on themselves or the leaders’ children before the members volunteer.
- Nigerian security agencies should enroll the support of churches and mosques in their efforts to prevent and combat crime.
- Nigeria needs more policemen. FG is therefore advised to employ more policemen or allow states to create their own police commands in order to complement the role of the federal police. This is in tandem with the current agitation for restructuring.
- More states should follow the good examples of Lagos and Oyo in combating noise pollution in places of worship.
- Christians and Muslims should move closer in interpersonal relations.
- Imams and pastors must let their followers know their limitations concerning religious rights.
- Churches and mosques must critically assess recipients of their religious titles. Money should not be the major parameter.
Mr. Vice Chancellor, Sir, this is my Convocation Lecture. Thank you for inviting me.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
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- Dasa, V (1988) “Religion and Work Ethics”, in C.S. Momoh al., Nigerian Studies in Religious Tolerance, National Association for Religious Tolerance, Lagos, vol. III, pp. 88-89.
- Adeleye, M. O (1984) Religion and Politics in Society, Emiloju Press, Ilesa, p. 12.
- The Bahá’í World, (1996) 1996-97 edition, 197-219.
- Croall, H (1998) Crime and Society in Britain, Longman, England, p. 3.
- Wilson, J. & Petersilia J. (1995) Crime, Institute For Contemporary Studies (ICS) Press, San Fransisco, p. 5.
- Schneider, R. H & Kitchen, T (2002) Planning for Crime Prevention, A TransAtlantic Perspective, Routledge, London, p. 4.
- Black, H. C (1979) Black’s Law Dictionary, St. Paul, MN West, p. 334.
- “Police Hunt For Cleric Who Allegedly Exhumed Friend’s Corpse”, Daily Trust, August 3, 2017, p. 6.
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World Today, 3rd Edition, Crestwood, New York.
- Neill S. C and Weiber, H (1963) The Layman in Christian History,
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Academia, Nigeria Association of Religious Scholars, Ijebu-Ode, p.189.
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Religion and Social Ethics, Alamsek Press Ltd., Ijebu-Ode, p.98.
- Brantingham, P. J & Brantingham, P. L (1981) Environmental Criminology, Sage, Beverly Hills, p. 7.
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- Akinola, F (2015) “Lagos Shuts 40 Religious Houses Over Noise Pollution”, Daily Trust, August 5, 2015, p. 16.
- “Oyo Bans Churches, Mosques From Using Outdoor Speakers”, https://m.guardian.ng/news/oyo-bans-churches-mosques-from-using-outdoor-speakers/