The Devil In The Temple! -By SOC Okenwa

Filed under: Political Issues |

SOC Okenwa

About a month ago the Ozubulu community in Anambra state woke up to the horrendous news of terrorists invading St. Philips Catholic Church during an early morning mass murdering more than a dozen worshippers and wounding scores of others. We heard from the State Governor, Willie Obiano while visiting the scene of carnage hours later, that what happened was just a drug gang warfare ‘imported’ home from abroad! Though he never mentioned the foreign country where the drug lords or cartels were based and operating from we had learned, South Africa must have been the country referred to.

Now, some weeks after the sudden brutal elimination of the innocent souls (whose only crime was just leaving their homes in search of some spiritual succor) nothing more is ever heard about the gory incident and any outcome of an investigation by the police. The father of the suspected drug baron involved who was obviously the main target, Pa Ikegwuonu, was killed in the massacre. The surviving son, Aloysius Ikegwuonu, alias ‘Bishop’, had resurfaced in Ozubulu, his hometown, visiting the hospitalized victims and comforting the survivors.

According to Governor Obiano: “intelligence reports linked the attack to a feud between two kingpins in Ozubulu: Mr. Ikegwuonu and one Chinedu Akpunonu (a.k.a Oborocho), both of whom live outside Nigeria”. Reports online had it that ‘Bishop’ had made statements to the police giving details of the feud that led to the deadly shooting. A police source said he also revealed the assailants’ names and revealed that they had demanded a huge ransom from him in exchange for peace.

South Africa is known to be hosting millions of Nigerians like Ivory Coast, Germany, the US, and the UK. In cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban one could find easily Nigerians doing some legitimate businesses. But also those engaged in criminal activities like drug running, prostitution, cyber fraud and what have you. More often than not the native black population have had to voice out their frustrations visiting violence on foreigners — especially blacks and mostly Nigerians. They would complain of rising crimes, the destructive effects of narcotics and lack of jobs. Some of our compatriots had been singled out for xenophobic attacks over there on more than one occasion.

Considering the remarkable big-brother role played by Nigeria in the protracted war against apartheid it is hard to conclude that whatever we contributed towards the historic dismantling of the White minority rule was never appreciated. The late icon of the struggle, former President Nelson Mandela, had paid tribute to Nigeria for its inestimable frontline efforts during the battle to dethrone the evil regime and enthrone the government of the majority. Now even though Madiba is no more, some South Africans appreciated our major role for their liberation.

The Rainbow nation is a great country with great cities. The white men that ruled discriminatively had developed the country long before the fall of apartheid. I was there for few years before deciding to leave for elsewhere as the black-on-black violence erupted at a point in time. With the minority white population still dominating the economic sector (having reluctantly relinquished the political dominion) the promise of a better economic future for the native South Africans by the ruling ANC party has never materialized with the passage of time. So there are frustrations everywhere boiling over sometimes and reports of mind-boggling corruption involving the ruling elite tended to ignite feelings of marginalization.

In South Africa, the narcotics market is flourishing and the foreign dealers are smiling to the banks as lives are being wasted and criminality blossomed across the cities. ‘Bishop’ Ikegwuonu is said to be based there with his network of thriving drug distribution business. He must have struck gold making it big at 39 or less that he had thought about giving something back to the very community that saw him grow up from the cradle. He is reported to be munificent and since God loves a cheerful giver why not pay tithes and even build a church or two and tar some dilapidated roads? Why not sink boreholes for the indigent folks in the villages or feed and clothe some poor villagers?

But the problem with this kind of drug-tainted charity is that God is nowhere to be seen to be asked venerably if He accepts such gifts or charity based on the scorned source. Can anyone possibly ‘bribe’ Him by using an ill-gotten wealth to want to enter his name in His book of recompense as it were? Can anyone actually ‘bribe’ the highest directly or indirectly? Can the immoral attention-seeking demonstration of charity possibly guarantee spiritual favors from the celestial quarters? Your answer is as good as mine but suffice to say here that God is neither mocked nor fooled by anyone in such circumstance!

While He accepts sacrifices offered with the righteous heart He abhors corruption of morals. What ‘Bishop’ did in Ozubulu (donating a church to the super-rich Vatican) could be said to amount to ‘bribing’ God wittingly or unwittingly. And that is not how best to go about it. In Nigeria politicians and businessmen pretend to ‘love’ God more than the Pope by courting some influential men of God. They pay regularly their tithes and donate cash and material gifts to those seen as representatives of the Supreme Being here on earth — even when we know that some of them do represent Satan here on earth!

While the Catholic church is seen generally as an organized global religious group prosperity is not openly preached during mass services. But the ordained men of God hardly denounce the get-rich-quick syndrome of our youths today. Yet the old Roman Catholic community must be considered a ‘saint’ when compared with other Pentecostal groups in Nigeria. The latter group boast of very wealthy pastors, bishops and general overseers with some possessing private jets and mansions at home and abroad.

What is more, when a politician rigs his way to power he would happily dance his way to the altar accompanied by a hired crowd bearing Thanksgiving items. When a drug baron makes it big in his business he would remember the need to use the fortune to launder his image at home. Some even go to places of worship to show off their wealth! In the imperfect sinful eyes of men that is in order but in the perfect eyes of Jehovah could it be considered worthy and welcome? Or would He see it as an attempt at the corruption of faith? Blessed is the hand that giveth we are taught by the Good Book but at what moral price? What if the charitable hand is soiled with dope, heist or abduction for ransom?

What we are witnessing today in the ecumenical fold is much worse than what happened during the time of Jesus Christ. As narrated in the Bible, the Son of God on one occasion had to angrily chase away the ‘traders’ found in the temple declaring prophetically that His Father’s house should never serve as a place of mundane business!

Somewhere in Igboland one late local ignorant king was once reported to have told his people that any son of theirs that went abroad and came back with a sack of money must be given a heroic welcome. He must not be asked nonsense questions as to how the money was made but a portion of land should be provided for him to build companies to employ the locals. And when anyone was brought back home in a body bag no questions should also be asked as to the cause of death! Just bury him and life goes on, he had advised!

From the foregoing one could conclude that the devil has invaded the temple of God! Yes, the devil is in the temple!! And we must pray (without ceasing and season) the evil one into oblivion. Or better still, pray the celestial rebel, nay coupes, into the dark kingdom of hell!

SOC Okenwa
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