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Surviving the Yuletide in tough times

Usually, in Nigeria, the Yuletide period is delicate. Always tough! At this period, there is always an increase in crime rate in the form of armed robberies, missing persons for ritual purposes, kidnapping for ransom purpose, all manner of corruption, ‘Yahoo Yahoo’ business and now the latest on the list- vital organ harvest!

The period is also marked by increase in auto crashes as people commute from one part of the country to another. Observers and those who have followed the performance of the nation’s economy and its current negative impact on the quality of life of citizens express worries that this year’s Yuletide may witness the highest crime rate as people engage in all manner of untoward means to make money, either to show off or just to have minimum comfort during the festivities.

The media is already awash with unsavory news of terrible happenings across the country, all for money. On Tuesday, November 19, 2019 the Enugu State Police Command paraded one Sunday Egbo, founder and pastor in charge of the Christ Mercy Ministry, AjuonaObukpa, in Nsukka Local Government Area of the state, for alleged rape and involvement in money rituals.

According to the report, Egbo had on November 9, 2019, invited a female member of his church to his house under the guise of organising a crusade that was scheduled to start at 6pm that day. He also asked the victim to come along with the picture of her sick brother for prayers.

“On arrival, the pastor took her to his house and left on the pretence that he was going to bring other people, who were supposed to participate in the prayer session. But he returned around 11pm and dragged the victim into his room, brought out a magic stone and threatened to kill her if she raised alarm,” Ahmed Abdur-rahman, state commissioner of police, narrated.

Egbo was said to have ordered the female victim to remove her clothes, but she refused, and he slapped her, tore her clothes and raped her.

“The suspect seized her pants, brassiere and brought out a small bottle and wanted to insert it into her private parts, but she struggled and ran naked to the door and shouted, which attracted neighbours, who also invited the police to rescue her and arrest the pastor,” the CP further narrated.

Surprisingly, Egbo confessed to the crime in an interview with newsmen, saying: “I actually raped the victim in my house. I approached a native doctor in Kogi State in my quest to be rich, and the native doctor gave me a small coffin and other items, and asked me to follow some instructions in order to become a millionaire.”

He said that he paid the native doctor N200,000 to get the coffin and flute.

“The native doctor ordered me to do certain things, after which I would get a Ghana-Must-Go bag full of money in my room. But after two weeks, the money did not come as the native doctor had assured me.”

Increasingly, many Nigerians are becoming desperate to make money by all means. The craze for quick money now involves people of age groups. The youth are as hungry as the adults. It is now a rat race.

In addition to the story of the Enugu pastor, there was another incident of kidnapping that took place on October 30, 2019 in Lagos State.

According to an eye witness, who shared the sad story on social media, there was this young man who lives in one of the estates in the Gbagada area of Lagos with his wife but works at Lekki in an oil servicing company.

“On this fateful day, he went to work as usual but around lunchtime he told his colleagues that he needed to rush to the bank to carry out some transactions. Due to traffic situation in Lekki, he left his car and jumped into a KekeMaruwa, popularly called KekeNapep,” an eye witness narrated.

Thereafter, the young man disappeared and didn’t return home that day, such that his family declared him missing. This was reported to the Lagos State Police Command. His parents didn’t tell anybody in the estate because they felt he will be back or probably had a quarrel with his wife and wanted some space.

“On November 5, 2019 – six days after the young man’s disappearance, he called his wife using a private phone number. He was crying on the phone and said he didn’t know where he was but that they were about 24 of them in a warehouse guarded by an armed security guard.

According to the victim, 10 out of the 24 victims had been taken away to an unknown destination, and that they remained 14 persons at the time he called his parents using an unknown phone.

“Where are you?” the parents asked, but the young man answered, “No idea.”

“How did you get there?” the parents asked, but the young man answered, “No idea.” All he could recall was getting into the Keke with the driver and one occupant. A few meters away from the point he boarded, the keke picked up another passenger. As soon as the new passenger entered, he said to the young man ‘cooperate’ and waved handkerchief over his face, that was the last he could remember,” the victim told his parents.

“Whose phone are you calling from?” the parents further inquired. The young man said the phone fell off the pocket of one of the security guards, adding that the guard unknowingly locked the victims in the warehouse with his phone.

“So, it was the phone we were using to call our loved ones,” he added. And the phone cut off.

Reports had it that it was at this point that the parents started notifying friends and neighbours and everyone sprang into action, reaching out to their connections and networks.

“We have two high ranking policemen in our estate. They both sprang into action. The police using satellite connections located the position of the private number phone the victim used in calling his wife, saying that the phone call came from Abuja,” the eye witness said.

“On November 6th, the victim’s father and a police officer flew to Abuja and met with the special force dedicated to the operation. They did their investigation and located the warehouse. They stormed the place on November 7th and fortunately the young man was among the less than six persons, who were rescued from the warehouse,” the eye witness stated.

According to the eye witness, the police are still handling the matter but are suspecting the possibility of the kidnappers being involved in either ritual killing or organ harvesting.

BDSUNDAY investigation shows that cases of armed robberies, burglaries, murder, attempted murder and serious assault tend to increase noticeably during festive season.

Obviously, as Christmas approaches, there are those who perhaps, have sworn to “paint the city” and their villages red with huge amount of money, even when they do not have well defined means of livelihood.

In Nigeria today, strange occurrences are on the increase as the year winds down. People perpetrating such are probably banking on human sacrifices and other mindless activities. Their target is usually their fellow human beings.

This can be attributed to the high rate of poverty, and economic deprivation has resulted in the increased number of crime born out of frustration in the country.

Pundits believed that there are usually increase crime rate in a country where economic deprivation persists because most citizens take to crime to survive.

Also, people are often driven to great lengths of desperation by poverty and this is a major cause of crime. The skyrocketing unemployment rate in the country is another reason youths take to crime to support themselves.

For instance, situations where one goes through school and end up jobless for many years is a clear reason people go into crime.

Therefore, Nigerians must be very vigilant and extra careful. Everyone must be safety conscious. Do not leave your house without letting anyone know where you are going; do not just follow anybody to anywhere you are not familiar with; and avoid keeping late nights.

A security expert, who spoke with BDSUNDAY oncondition of anonymity, urgedNigerians to be extra careful this time around, saying, “Nothing should be taken for granted.”

“This period is always hot. It has always been so, but I admit that the situation is getting increasingly worse than it used to be. The frustration in the polity as a result of failure of government has driven many people into taking dangerous decisions. I can tell you that poverty begets a lot of criminal acts,” the expert said.

“I would advise Nigerians to take their security more seriously. Always tell people your whereabouts. Do not just leave your apartment without people knowing where you are going to. Be skeptical about everyone and every invitation you receive this time and make sure you do not find yourself among strange faces. Do not stay late night or engage in night parties. Even in religious circles, do not visit pastors or Imams in secret places, always make your appointments with such people open to people. Be conscious of people around you and do not engage in unnecessary visits. Do so only when it is absolutely necessary,” the security expert further said.

AMAKA ANAGOR-EWUZIE 

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