Tuesday, December 23, 2008


The reality and intensity of Satan’s wrath and evil end-time agenda, thinly veiled by the hustle and bustle of every day civil living, was again vividly demonstrated late November, as elements of the Moslem community in Jos, Plateau state of Nigeria, descended heavily on unsuspecting Christians, inflicting terrible damages and casualties. The excuse for the action, this time around, was a peacefully-conducted Local Government elections whose results tended to favour the Christian candidates against the Moslems.
It didn’t take long however to realize that the violence was directed neither at officials nor properties of any political party. Rather, the casualties were largely Christian men and women, irrespective of whether they were indigenes of Plateau state or elsewhere. An e-mail from the Anglican Archbishop of Jos Rt Rev. Ben Kwashi to Barnabas Fund on Saturday 30th November described the pogrom that had started without any warning the previous day: “The Muslims are attacking and burning this morning. It looks well coordinated. They are well armed with AK47 and pump machine guns….” Several Nigerian blogs carried the nauseating details of how organized Moslem mobs went from one identified Christian home to another, pulling down the gates and killing in cold blood, mostly the male occupants (see, for instance www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/forum/main-square/27336-three-youth-corpers-among-dead-jos.html). Another core of Moslem invaders, apparently hired mercenaries from outside Plateau state, came dressed in army and police uniforms, thus further confusing many Christians who, expecting refuge, actually ran towards their eventual executioners! Before the real army (led by the Army chief of staff himself) would intervene two days later, hundreds of innocent lives have been lost. Unfortunately a number of Moslem folks caught in the reprisal attack would also be part of that number.
One of the particularly moving killings was that of Ibukun Akinjogbin a fresh University graduate participating in the mandatory National Youth Service Corps scheme at Jos He was on the phone with his parents requesting for prayers as the Islamic mob descended on him and his friends. The heartless killers picked the phone and sadistically described to the distraught family in Lagos, the gradual ebbing-out of Ibukun’s life!
Yet, several national leaders, following the usual “douse the tension” script, were vociferous in declaring that the mayhem has nothing to do with either ethnicity or religion, but was a mere political protest. While one may not necessarily blame Moslem political figures, such as the Speaker of House of Representatives, for making such patently false statements, it is difficult to excuse those with the label of Christianity, such as the Senate President, who join in the ostrich game. The Nigerian number three man was quoted as saying “Truly, what is going on in Jos has nothing to do with religion….. I am not aware of any faith that advocates violence. Every faith that I know of condemns killing.” Really? Wouldn’t it have been more helpful keeping quiet than reducing a serious matter to mere rhetoric? The sad, bitter reality is that Islamic violence is indeed rooted in faith – at least as interpreted and clearly demonstrated by many. This would explain why subsequent governments have preferred to shy away from the problem rather than attempt to address it. For instance by the simple and sensible action of treating those who engage in arson and murder as the cheap criminals that they would be – if not regarded as religious faithfuls!
However, sadder still is the response of Christian leaders who hastily pronounced the violence, even as it was yet unfolding, as totally having nothing to do with religion. No less a person than the national chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria - CAN, (who also is the catholic Archbishop of Abuja) hasted to make such a declaration – even from far away Rome, where he was at the outbreak of the incidence. (www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=1285) He could at least have consulted his colleague, the chairman of the Plateau state chapter of CAN, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, who repeatedly averred that the crisis was definitely religious, and was clearly instigated by the Moslems. According to Kaigama, “We were surprised at the way some of our churches and property were attacked and some of our faithful and clergy killed. The attacks were carefully planned and executed. The questions that bog our minds are why were churches and clergy attacked and killed? Why were politicians and political party offices not attacked if it were a political conflict? Why were the business premises and property of innocent civilians destroyed? We strongly feel that it was not political but pre-meditated act under the guise of elections.” www.barnabasfund.org/email/email.php?id=255. The Anglican Bishop of Jos, the Rt Revd Ben Kwashi ventures an answer: "We are the victims of ... Islamic anger. Two years ago, it was the Danish cartoons. Now they are trying to lay it at the feet of the elections. We have become a convenient scapegoat and target...” www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/023788.php
With national leaders and even Christian leaders trying hard to exonerate Islam from the killings, it is little wonder that the foreign media would follow the cue. Though the foreign media were forced to concede that the riot was religious, they effectively (even if silently) put the blame mostly on Christians! For instance, the BBC in reporting “the death of hundreds of people in clashes between Christians and Moslems”, added the sub-heading “A Muslim charity in the town of Jos says it collected more than 300 bodies, and fatalities are also expected among Christians.” (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7756695.stm.) Such silly, biased reporting gives the impression that the bodies collected by the “Muslim charity” were those of Muslims killed by Christians; and that the Christians probably lost a few people too! It is however well-known that Moslems have learnt to quickly give Islamic mass burial for victims of riots picked from the streets ( as in this situation), mainly to discourage retaliatory killings in the South (particularly the catholic South-East) triggered by strong emotions that are evoked when such bodies are returned home for proper burial. According to the Punch newspaper, “ The identities of the dead could not be ascertained as they were said to have been picked up randomly by the Muslim community and taken to the mosque.”
www.punchontheweb.com/Articl.aspx?theartic=Art20081201235371. Moreover, many of the Moslems killed in Jos were militants, reportedly shot down on the streets by the state-based security forces. Several hundred others (including foreign merceneries) were arrested. (www.mnnonline.org/article/12016).
Another widely circulated news report originated from the Agence France Presse (AFP) with the blazing headline: 2,000 "angry youths" storm mosque. The truth however was that the “angry youths” were not Christian youths as silently implied, but Moslems who came to threaten/blackmail the visiting parliamentary official who had come to placate the Moslem community. Some media houses using the story (such as this, www.calgaryherald.com/news/youths+storm+mosque+riot+torn+nigerian+city/1017450/story.html) even added the picture of a traumatized female youth corper, in clear Islamic veil, to complete the impression of apparent culpability of Christians in the matter!
The well-planned pogrom had began on Friday 29th November, when the results of the Local Government council elections, held very peacefully the previous day, began to indicate that indigenous Christian candidates were set to sweep the polls in all 17 LG council areas of the state. This would represent a decisive break in the influence which the largely Moslem Hausa-Fulani group has been trying to build over the years and which they hoped to consolidate with the elections. For instance, the attitude of the largely Christian Yoruba community in Jos (whose community reportedly lost about 113 people) could be contrasted with that of the Hausa-Fulani community. In a peace meeting convened by the State governor, the Yoruba leader, Chief Toye Ogunshuyi said: “We have been carrying out legitimate businesses in Jos since 1891 and we built the first church in Jos but we have been living peacefully without fighting to rule Jos” www.vanguardngr.com/content/view/23328/47/. On the other hand, speaking to Reuters, Sheikh Khalid Aliyu, spokesman for the council of imams in Plateau state insisted: "We are not aliens, we are not foreigners. We deserve each and every right." (africa.reuters.com/top/news/usnJOE4B10FZ.html).
The only problem is that such righteously indignant assertion is supposed only to apply in regions where Moslems are in the minority. Refer for instance, to the story in the last edition of CA! exemplifying incredible Islamic arrogance, even in the simple matter of allowing a legally-cleared Church building to operate in a favoured area in Ilorin, Kwara state. Kwara, just like Plateau, is a gateway state linking the North and South of Nigeria; and both of them have a roughly equal Christian-Moslem population. In such a situation, as is fast becoming a reality in Kwara state, access to state powers is blatantly used to compel non-moslems to a subdued ‘dhimmified’ second-class citizen livelihood – as in states like Kano and Zamfara where Moslems are in the vast majority. Achieving Kwara in Plateau state is clearly one of the major goals of Nigerian Islamic Jihadists, and a direct cause of the Jos conflict. It is at the same time religious, ethnic and political – in that order of relative importance!
As for the hundreds of lives lost in pre-meditated Islam-instigated killing, the President of the country, Alhaji Umaru Yar Adua at the Joint Sitting of the National Assembly for the presentation of the 2009 Appropriation Bill requested the customary “ one-minute silence” in their memory. For the survivors, he offered his personal prayers, according to the Vanguard newspaper, that “the almighty Allah condoles those who have lost their loved ones and those who have lost their property and also those who have sustained all kinds of injuries.” (www.vanguardngr.com/content/view/23228/42/). Going by past antecedents, (as we have always been careful to point out), that’s probably the end of the story. How sad!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Many people will be surprised to recall that it is now ten quick years since the famous Lekki ’98, when millions (CNN said to have reported 7 million) gathered together at the Lekki Beach to celebrate the first edition of what then used to be called the Holy Ghost Festival. Organized by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), it was certainly a landmark event, reminiscent of the congregation of the children of Israel in the days of Moses. Subsequent editions have moved to the Holy Ghost Arena at the Redemption Camp, first as a 3-day event , and now as an all week-long (Monday to Saturday) affair.
Spiritually-speaking, the Holy Ghost Congress has an even older history. The first “Congress “ in the RCCG was actually Pastor Adeboye’s indignant response to the Festival of Arts of Culture (FESTAC) hosted by Nigeria in 1977. Irked about the idea of people congregating in large number to celebrate dead idols, the then totally unknown Pastor E.A. Adeboye persuaded his father-in-the-Lord, the General Superintendent of the then obscured RCCG, to organize a “parallel” celebration of the Holy Ghost at Ilesa, in Osun State. Today, while organizers of FESTAC struggle to have a repeat celebration (see for instance www.pmg.org.za/files/docs/080205draftbrief.pdf), the ORGANIZER of the Holy Ghost Congress seemingly has no difficulty in taking the event to ever-increasing heights of glory, attracting millions of participants from all over the world every year.
Church Arise! believes that apart from an exciting Spirit-charged atmosphere featuring excellent music, seminars and teachings; or the outright miracles and life-imparting prophecies, the Sovereign Almighty God Himself – for some point He is keen on making -is directly behind the gathering of the multitudes who have become faithful features of these meetings. If you are yet to participate in the Holy Ghost Congress, this year is an excellent time to partake of this unique indescribable experience. Themed “Joy Unspeakable”, the 11th Holy Ghost Congress runs from Monday 15th – Saturday 20th December.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Jos Killing

While preparing the belated vol 11 no 6 edition of Church Arise!, I think it informative to post the following comment by Emeka Reuben Okala, a UK christian commentator whom I respect, on the Jos killings. As many people would have us believe, the crisis has nothing to do with religion! Emeka Okala wrote this on Naijanet - a Nigerian village-setting forum.

"Bogobiri, who also doubles as the Catholic Bishop of Kafachan said any religion which promotes violence certainly has some questions to answer, saying that the circumstances leading to the Jos crisis has nothing to do with religion but purely political.
"What happened in Jos cannot be described as a religious thing, because there is nothing religious about what has happened. it is only a pity that any time a crises like that occur, it is given some religious coloration and talk."

The last time I checked, innocent graduate-youths on various national callings (NYSC) from the Southern parts of the country were heartlessly hacked down in their primes, even when they were talking to their relatives on phones and praying to God for immediate intervention. It was not reported that those Copers were candidates and flag-bearers of any of the political parties that contested the local government's elections in the Plateau state. It was also not reported that those future leaders cut down in their primes were party fanatics. The cause of their heinous killings simply bordered more on either their religion or tribe. No more! No less!

I'm not saying that the cause of the mayhem was not political. What I'm saying is that political factor could be its remote cause. But "remote" is not the only cause of these dastardly and unacceptable killings, disorder and lawlessness in Jos. There was the "immediate cause element which even became more deadlier than the "remote cause element".

Both causes should be investigated, and those involved brought to book in accordance with the Law of the land. No one has the right to take another person's life under whatever guise. No! Enough is Enough!!

Let me put it succinctly clear to Bogobiri, the Catholic Bishop of Kafanchan that, aside from the remote causes of the mayhem which is undoubtedly political, there was also the immediate' cause element which could either be religious or tribal or both. Immediate causes shouldn't be swept under the carpet as Bogobiri appears to be doing. Nigeria should learn to call a spade by its name and give it the exact treatment it deserves.

With what is happening in Jos, if I were seeing my life in Nigeria at this point in time, I don't think I would encourage any of my relatives to go to any of the Nigerian states in the North to serve the country in the name of NYSC. I will stop her/him from going their - not because I'm not patriotic. It has everything to do with his/her safety. He/she is not safe in the North as long as he/she remains a Christian or Southerner. And this is very unfortunate.

May I call on the Aso Rock, to avoid listening to the rhetoric of religious leaders and politicians and take the bull by the horn. The REMOTE and IMMEDIATE causes of the trouble in Jos should be EQUALLY investigated and those responsible brought seriously to book.

This is the way to bring back confidence in the polity, honour those whose lives were cut down senselessly and keep Nigeria ONE!

Emeka Reuben Okala
London, UK