Evans: Rise of the invisible neighbour By Louis Odion, FNGE

The Stranger’ Community

Mathew
Hassan Kukah
(MHK), it was, who perhaps best
framed a key ethical question bogging the contemporary society with collapsing
values. To reclaim the moral boundary, the engaging Catholic Bishop once argued
that it is no longer enough for the cleric to expressly grant request by a
congregant to bless their endeavor out of shared ecumenical spirit without
first ascertaining its nature.
To gloss over such little details is
to risk donating the ecclesiastical seal to an undertaking likely to fail the
integrity test, thus inadvertently allowing the impression to be created that
mere sprinkling of “holy water” could confer the same hygiene outlaws
usually crave in seeking to have their loot laundered. And in case such
“enterprise” turns out to be less than licit, the shepherd stands as
condemned as that calculating Pharisee.


Of course, we can take liberty to
assume that implied in MHK’s sermon
is also a frown at pastors who readily demand and accept gifts of private jet
or limousine from their “spiritual children” who, in reality, were no
other than those already officially certified as fuel subsidy thieves or
vampires sucking crude from the nation’s pipelines.

Today, against the backcloth of the
fabulous revelations since last Saturday of the exploits of kidnap king, Chukwudi Onuamadike (a.k.a Evans), MHK’s
words could not be more pungent.

Father Mathew Kukah (FMK)

Until he met his Waterloo, Evans would easily have passed as a
celebrity next door. He possessed and flaunted all that are now discounted as
the only success indicator by the increasingly materialistic society:
big houses at home and abroad, front-row seat at the temple, big cars, big
titles, big family often on foreign holidays etc.
At his upscale estate, neighbors
recall he was the perfect resident. He paid his dues promptly even though he
avoided community meetings like a plague. Watching him driving by in
exotic automobiles or power bike, many must have eyed him with envy, wishing
God put them in his shiny shoes.

Evans….From Grace to Grass…

At the car wash, he would
sit inside his wonder-on-wheels with the engine running while the
cleaning lasted.
In his village, we read about his
step-brother describing him in flattering terms as “nice, kind-hearted
guy”.
We also read of fat envelopes
donated by him to charity homes and temples of worship.
One account (though unconfirmed)
states he was arrested and arraigned in court earlier this year alongside his
wife but, predictably, soon bought his way to freedom.
But what many must still find most
puzzling is how a man dreaded for sowing fear and terror across the land for
years, almost thought invincible as to warrant the police placing big bounty on
his head, would eventually be found not in a fortress or catacomb,
but at a regular tenement.

The Dollars could be Evantified…

This could in part be attributed to
the dysfunctionality of the three socializing agencies: family, the neighborhood and those sociologists describe as “the significant
others”.
That Evans could inhabit Magodo
for so long and remain invisible is a reflection of the new reality in our big
cities. Everyone is in a hurry. People rush out even before dawn in pursuit of
a living. On return at dusk, they are mostly too broken by the pressure at
work, agonizing over what awaits them the next day. By weekend, most prefer to
remain indoors, lying in bed more or less, trying to recover the breath they
lost during the past grueling working days.

Louis Odion FNGE….The Author wonders aloud why everyone is now a stranger to each other in same society!

In place of old-fashioned hearty
chatter in neighborhood recreational parks over drinks, we now find it more
convenient to set up WhatsApp conference
on the go. Social media platforms are taking the place of the clubs and
confraternities of old as the new socializing venues. Phone calls are replacing
physical visits. Fawning symbols contrived by computer are now accepted as
substitute for the bonhomie of old, that throaty human laughter in real life.

Whatsapp….So what happened to our communal fellowship?

Territorial boundaries have collapsed.

So, over time, the big
paradox unfolds: neighbors grow into strangers even when social
media is supposed to bridge distance. While rapid urbanization is robbing our
communities of their soul, technology is increasingly rendering our humanity
impersonal.
Only that could explain why no one
still seemed to have taken notice of sneaky Evans
in Magodo even three years after the
police placed a ransom on his head. In the days gone by when intimacy
defined the community, Evans would
not have been able to hide for so long. Neighbors were each other’s keeper.
Suspicion would have easily arisen if anyone chose to step out of line.

Ambode….Lagos State Governor…’Evans in his own Lagos?’

Once upon a time, when three or four
people were gathered, someone was bound to break the ice soon. But not any
more. Today, rather than chat up an acquaintance at a public space, we would
rather now spend the time fondling our phone devices – texting or browsing.
In a way, the concept of society has
changed. InstagramFacebook and other cyber platforms
constitute the new society. Seamless as access could
be, the values are false, the language vile. They have become arena
to show off.

Instagram…Makes us to be instantly away from ourselves

It used to be said that when your
yam harvest was bountiful, shared communal sense of proportion dictated that
the news be hoarded, if not entirely hidden. Today, we all seem in a hurry to
even exaggerate our worth on social media as if modesty has become a cardinal
sin. We glory in spending what we don’t earn.
It explains why soon it took only
few moments after Evans was paraded Monday
for pictures of his brood to surface online, oozing opulence. Though the source
was not stated, it is most likely to be screen-grab from either Instagram or Facebook entry. Such is the perversion of the new society.

Zugerbergs Facebook has taken us away from ourselves

On the other hand, family
failure is undoubtedly illustrated in Evans’
evolution from a petty thief to becoming the czar of the underworld. According to reports, his parents knew he
was into crime and unwittingly aided and abetted him by keeping silence.
At least, his father reportedly
admitted his son once told him he was into drug trafficking. While the mom was
said to know of the kidnappings but never gave her blessings.
Planning, conducting reconnaissance
and executing kidnaps on Evans’ scale
and keeping victims for months, evading security dragnet, definitely require
uncommon intelligence. If only Evans
deployed his in a positive way.
Parental deficit of the Onuamadikes could be situated in the
context of what is now commonly termed the “micro-wave”
parenting model. It consists of the abdication of responsibility by the
authority figures at home often under the excuse of pursuing daily bread.

Evans in the hands of his captors….On his way to jail

When the parents cannot meet the
family’s basic needs, they often end up forfeiting their voices all together at
home. When a son without visible source of likelihood brings home brand new SUV or undergraduate daughter begins to
flaunt the next generation I-phone,
how many parents still possess the moral authority to ask questions?
Surely, the bottom of sudden wealth
is often very murky indeed.
Overall, more poignant questions
certainly await the Onuamadikes.
Apart from possible tepid reprimands uttered understandably beyond the earshot
of a third party or immersion in the usual “fasting and
prayer”, what other concrete steps did they take to really wean their
ward off the life of crime early in the day?
A parent who cherishes the
family’s good name, is conscious of the inevitability of Karma and un-desirous of eternal shame would not have quickly
thrown up their hands in cheap surrender.

ACP Abba KYARI the nemesis of EVANS

Even more abominable is the role of
the wife. Evans reportedly confessed
that his spouse sometimes cashed the ransom on his behalf. Could he have lied
to her on the real nature of his “business”? But it would have been
humanly impossible for her to remain in the dark all these years while her
hubby rolled in billions without an office address.
The only logical conclusion to make
under the circumstance is that she knew about all the secrets trips, the
nocturnal calls and why the bales of dollars bore bloodstains. We are
then let into the grotesque shadow of Jezebel
and Saphira rolled into
one. And then, what sort of business could they been telling their children
daddy was doing?
Again, what sort of a woman – a
mother of five at that! – would happily go to bed with and wake beside a devil
like Evans each morning? And she was
not scared of having her children trained with such blood money? We can only
pray the iniquities of the evil couple don’t come back to haunt the little
children who must be treated as innocent in the circumstance.

Pastor Sam Adeyemi….One of the few Men of God who frowns at ‘Evans Syndrome’ in churches

As for the “significant
others”, the guilt list will certainly stretch from the social circuits to
the conclave of miracle merchants and allied specialists who partook of Evans’s tainted dollars. He often
introduced himself as “international businessman”. Nigerian
ambassador to Ghana reportedly attended a shindig once held in his honour in Accra.
Evans also reportedly confessed that he gave fantastic donations
in form of offering to churches, thereby implicating pastors in his
web of sin. What then remains is for him to name all his spiritual fathers –
both orthodox and traditional – who collected dollars in appreciation of
“special prayers” or ritual sacrifice to help him either beat police
traps or evade arrests all these years.

Speaker Yakubu Dogara….’He is a Christian Politician, what can he do to halt the Evans tragedy in our society?’

Then, you can be sure many in
cassocks across the west coast will be losing sleep in the times ahead.
This leads us back to MHK’s golden charge. More would
certainly be achieved if more and more of our pastors, imams and
traditional priests join in helping to enshrine a custom that dishonors wealth
which provenance is either suspicious or unknown. No more recognition or
glorifying so-called business moguls of no visible merchandise and who purports
to run an office without an identifiable address.
Of course, that will only mean
massive pay-cut for many self-styled prophets. Recall the story of a
popular Lagos-based prosperity pastor implicated in the theft by a
church member sometime ago. The latter was found out by his employer in the
hospitality industry to have systematically stolen tens of millions of Naira as
account clerk.

Chris Oyakhilome….Founder, Believers Lover World aka Christ Embassy….Once received ‘Stolen Offering’ from a church member

He later confessed to the police
that more than half of his loot was donated to his church either as offering or
“seeds”. He said each time
the pastor made an altar call for “anyone blessed or
expecting miracles” to sow a seed, he was often over-powered by a spirit
to give and give.
The bigger shocker came when the
implicated pastor was eventually confronted. While not denying
receipt of millions and a giant generating set, he categorically ruled out the
possibility of a refund even after it became clear the source was unclean.
So, the impression invariably
created in public mind could be put roughly as this: were Judas Iscariot to offer ten percent of his infamous 30 shekels of
silver to that same pastor, it would be game as well.
Such is the new ethical bind we now
have to deal with.
Now, a little quiz for the day: how
much of your neighbour do you really know?

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