Men of God in Bullet-proof cars, vests, armed secorts

2010-01-31
THE GUARDIAN Newspaper


But for the inscriptions on the buses in line, the entire convoy would have been mistaken for a government entourage on an official mission. With a siren-blowing vehicle announcing its passing, in a Lagos suburb. The convoy of huge black jeeps and two white buses filled to capacity convoy soon suddenly screeched to a halt in the usual government officials' way. It was on a Saturday afternoon, a day not so much known for such a heavy government activities requiring heavy security apparatus; except some top shots needed to attend some functions in official capacity.

But it turned out that those in the convoy were officials and leaders of a new-generation church that is not known by too many people in Lagos, given its name!!!

The use of bullet-proof cars, vests and heavily armed bodyguards and convoy of siren-blowing vehicles by some clerics is now on the increase.

Despite the promises of God concerning His servants in the scriptures that "... Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day... for he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways." (Psalm 91:5,11); some religious leaders now move around in the manner of politicians and 'bigmen' in social circles. The men of God do not seem content anymore with protection by God and the Holy Spirit. They have simply taken security "into their own hands". And many of their followers are often bewildered by such grandiose deployment of security apparatus by men who claimed to have been ordained by God to shepherd them to salvation.

In fact, some of the followers have been victims of accidental discharges by careless gunmen guarding their religious leaders; or have been crushed or maimed by reckless drivers of the convoy vehicles -- right there in the compound of the church or at crusade grounds; as happened few years back on the National stadium-Lagos ground during a crusade by one of the big pentecostal churches.

The 1995 gruesome murder of Founder/General Overseer of Victory Christian Centre on Badagry Expressway, Lagos, Bishop IIoputaife, is often fingered as the start-off point for this sort of practice. It reportedly sent signal to religious leaders across the country on need to be extra security conscious.

The Guardian team of CHRIS IREKAMBA (Lagos), NIYI BELLO (Akure) and NKECHI ONYEDIKA (Abuja) sampled opinions of some religious leaders.

 

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