The day Satan came to church
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.