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Those keeping criminals out of jail

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There are a list of nouns keeping criminals away from where organised society has arranged as their places of residence, jails. But a noun is not just the name for a place; it is also the name of a person or thing. Here we will deal with persons who contribute to the success of criminals. Shall we quote the famous statement “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do?”

Like all criminals, this tripartite men of God, of Allah and of Ọlọrun, insist that they have done nothing wrong by offering prayers of success to criminals as they set out on their daily business of arson, kidnapping, human trafficking, thieving, rape and rampant misdemeanor.

Yet their Bible, their Qur’an and Divination texts are replete with injunctions not to kill, not to steal, not to covert what others have, so many but summed up in insisting that you must do unto others what you would want done unto you. In their innermost encounters with their creator, they know what they do. But they would tell human judges that they know not what they do while the heavenly Judge knows that they know.

Let us begin with Pastor Shukudebe. He is a short man, thickset with flat feet hidden by patent leather shoes. Besides his cell phone, he treasures his Point Of Sale machine. You know how technology is a friend of all people, no, all business people. No, religion is not a business but there are business aspects to providing religious comfort to our people and making things easy is a good thing.

Pastor Debenhams usually wears his black cassock with his fufu-white dog-collar. His sitting room has pictures of the fourteen stations of the church. In his short sermon before the immediate benefit prayer, he talks of the triumph of resurrection and the hope of the success of all endeavours.

The gangs usually like to send their leaders to come and make the request for IBP – Immediate Benefit Prayer because it is so much easier to deal with one person at a time. There was that time when the gang turned with their work utensils and other paraphernalia include cell phones with multi pixel cameras. When Pastor Debe objected to being videotaped, they said that some pastor had denied praying for their project after the police arrested them.

You don’t know when these police do to us after the arrest and public parade finish. He made a sign of his right hand in horizontal position across his throat. That’s why you never hear from us again. We disappear with the evidence going with the police. So, no gangs. Then Pastor Debe prayers for the success of the criminals who promise to pay on the success of their venture the usual ten per cent.

The second person in the tripartite is Mallam Alhajji Abudu Seriqui Who is tall and as thin as èdó, the sticks used to hold the yam tendrils while they are growing big in the soil. Alhajji, as he is usually addressed, carries his worry beads and his cell phone gifted to him by a gang he usually prays for. They had registered its SIM card in the name of the gang. As if he was stupid enough to use the cell phone with their SIM card, he had taken out the card and put his own! He always dressed in purple galabiyyah and brown leather slippers with matching socks. Under the galabiyyah he wore a pair of khaki short pants.

Where his other prize possession was was a cleaner than usual room. The prayer mat is pure white. The walls of the room are covered with verses from the Qur’an from Suratul Fatiha, the opening chapter of the Holy Qur’an to the end. His favourite surah, the chapter of the oneness Allah was written in letters of gold to let the believers in idol get their lesson.

He had three types of prayers: three day, seven day and nine day prayers. Each was priced according to their number of days. They had to disclose their intended use to which the prayers were going to be put. Three days prayer was for routine smaller crimes yielding mere thousands of naira and at no risk of loss of life. No guns would be needed although a toy gun could be displayed. Seven and nine days prayers carry risk of loss of life and earn millions of naira.

Every client was warned, right at the beginning of consultation the one prayer could not be used for a crime higher than its strength. Bad things will happen to the gang like the story of the three thieves. You know the story, ehn? One went to buy food and executive pure water (iced pure water) which he poison while the two who welcomed him back clubbed him to death and feasted on the food and executive pure water. That’s what will happen.

The third person in this tripartite pillars of criminals is Babalawo Alejolowo Arowojo. Baba Awo, as he prefers to be addressed, is neither short nor tall. He is not as dark skinned as Pastor Debe not as light skinned as Alhajji. He goes around his shrine, located on the sun rise direction of his parlour, in a red banté. The parlour is painted throughout in blood red paint. He carries one of those big Nokia first generation cell phones. Nobody has been able to get him to change to more modern ones. Yet it works. He claims he does not need to take selfies. He does not need data, whatever that might mean all he needs are to make calls and receive calls. His only prized possessions are a worn rhino horn carried as a mark of seniority among Babalawo and a divining worn wooden tray over which granulated sugar is poured. This is to replace wood dust for making divining marks.

All prayers cost the same, a varying percentage of the proceeds of the crime. Which means he lies when he insists that he prayed for everybody who came for protection prayers as his father did before him and his grandfather before his father on so on and so forth. These then are the trio keeping criminals from jail in Nigeria.
Kole Omotoso, bankole.omotoso@elizadeuniversity.edu.ng


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Kola Omotoso
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