The day Satan came to church

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS -

When you hear that gun­men stormed a church and killed a dozen wor­ship­pers, the hu­man re­ac­tion is usu­ally to won­der how God could al­low evil in the world, es­pe­cially in a build­ing where He is be­ing wor­shipped and adored. What hap­pened at St. Phillip’s Catholic Church, Ozubulu, is our col­lec­tive shame, not God’s. Imag­ine, if God in­ter­vened in all our af­fairs and in­su­lates us from the con­se­quences of our ac­tions by en­sur­ing that we did only what was right, would we re­ally have free will?

This is not the place to go into all the philo­soph­i­cal and the­o­log­i­cal ar­gu­ments about the rea­son why there is so much evil in the world. My heart goes out to the fam­i­lies of the dead. The rou­tine of ev­ery Catholic, nay, Chris­tian, is pre­dictable on Sun­days. It is the day to wor­ship the Lord. It is not the day to be shot with hot lead while singing praises. The church is the last place to ex­pect grue­some death.

Some of the vic­tims were el­derly. Some in the prime of life. Some were mere chil­dren. But they all paid the supreme price for a gang war they had no hand in. I don’t know what sec­tion of Chris­tian es­cha­tol­ogy stip­u­lates vi­o­lent death as pre­con­di­tion for heaven.

While we await the re­sult of po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion, ev­ery­thing al­ready points to a gang war be­tween drug lords. I have writ­ten in the past about what some of our na­tion­als do abroad. In Italy they have al­lied with the Sicilian Mafia and are con­trol­ling drug dis­tri­bu­tion dis­tricts. In South Africa, the drug trade is one of the rea­sons Nige­ri­ans are de­spised. In Spain, Nige­rian crim­i­nals com­bine the drug and pros­ti­tu­tion trades to un­leash terror on their hosts.

I have of­ten won­dered if there was any­thing our for­eign em­bassies could do to en­sure that Nige­ri­ans liv­ing in for­eign coun­tries op­er­ate within the am­bit of the law. How did we be­come a by­word for crim­i­nal­ity?

A con­cerned Nige­rian, Chike Afanna, hor­ri­fied by the Ozob­ulu mas­sacre, shared the fol­low­ing thoughts on so­cial me­dia last week:

“A Sec­ondary School stu­dent will quit School, join a drug gang in their vil­lage, his travel pa­pers will be pro­cessed and he will travel to Europe or the Amer­i­cas. Af­ter three months, he will build a man­sion and buy big cars. There was mas­sive with­drawal from Schools by young boys in pur­suit of quick money…

“There­after, new gangs de­vel­oped…. They have out­posts in all African coun­tries and they move the drugs in tons. Most of their drugs end up in South Africa, Europe and some Asian coun­tries. These guys use ship­ping con­tain­ers, sub­marines to ship drugs and can drop it any­where on the African con­ti­nent…

“The guy called Bishop was ship­ping his prod­ucts to South Africa and made real money through this deal. That guy has made more than $3bil­lion in less than 4yrs. His boys are all over the world and to clip his wings will need an in­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion… Par­ents are with­draw­ing their kids from School and send­ing them out to any coun­try at all, to go and suc­ceed like Bishop of Ozubulu. They just don’t care about the crimes they com­mit as long as they send money back home….”

And I say, Lord have mercy! A war be­tween crim­i­nal gangs that des­e­crates the house of prayer is the very limit. As one cynic put it, Satan had in­vested in the church through the young man who sin­gle­hand­edly built it. Any­one with one ounce of brain would know that one day, Satan would stop by to at­tend ser­vice.

I do not judge any­one. But a great deal of in­tro­spec­tion has to be done by the church. The Catholic Church is mostly known as a church of the poor, a church that stays faith­ful to the ‘old school’ teach­ings of faith, hope and char­ity. How did the Ozubulu mul­ti­ple homi­cide hap­pen? A 35-year-old bil­lion­aire who has no fac­tory, did not in­vent Face­book or What­sApp, did not in­herit any wealth and has no higher ed­u­ca­tion - ought to ac­ti­vate the alarm bells! But the rot in the so­ci­ety has crept un­der the cas­sock of the clergy as es­poused by the un­named au­thor of a piece for­warded to me by Prof. Akin Onigninde:

“Why are we sur­prised at Ozubulu shoot­ing? The gun­man knew that he was not shoot­ing in­side church! Af­ter all, it was built by their col­league, the source of wealth that they knew; they were even prob­a­bly there the day of ded­i­ca­tion, and even made do­na­tions while the ar­ray of God’s ser­vants show­ered bless­ings on them, and proph­e­sied that they will keep pro­gress­ing….

“Let us learn from this, enough of world­li­ness and car­nal­ity…. It’s time to go back to Bethel…. “

I fear for our coun­try and for the younger gen­er­a­tion. Our so­cial val­ues have bro­ken down as elders bow to filthy lu­cre the same way the peo­ple of Medellin did with Pablo Es­co­bar. The no­to­ri­ous drug lord, Es­co­bar, was worth $30 bil­lion dol­lars at the height of his glory. He, too, tried to play Santa Claus by do­nat­ing fa­cil­i­ties, schol­ar­ships, hefty sums of money to os­ten­si­bly hon­ourable causes but he was even­tu­ally hunted down and killed on a rooftop like a dog.

Let’s quit the de­nial game. We have a se­ri­ous prob­lem. Let’s re­turn to the good old moral val­ues which have al­ways served us well.

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