Pastor Albarka Bitrus, a Jos-based cleric who staged his kidnapping and collected ransom from church members maintained that financial challenges made him commit the act. What damage has such behaviour done to the Nigerian people?
Last Wednesday, the police apprehended the "man of God" at ECWA Church Jos following vigorous investigation and discovery that he had staged his kidnapping and collected ransom in collaboration with a gang to commit the crime to get his money on several occasions.
But in a country like Nigeria where the “people of God” are golds more valuable than our respective selves, the development is a moral and personality chaos that will taint the Nigerian mentality towards the clerics.
It is criminal to be caught in such a web in all ramifications. But the pastor said financial hitches confronted him, and that is why he committed the crime.
More people going forward could tread this path and give similar excuses since a revered figure tried the pattern.
He had done it the first time and succeeded. He said he felt guilty, but certainly, he wasn’t.
He only felt guilty when the money with him got finished. He said he restaged it out of confusion and regretted his action.
Members of his church are the direct victims of his callousness.
He pocketed N400,000 on November 14, 2022. Because he saw that the business was yielding, he organised another one on November 30, where church members had to cough out another N200,000 to secure his faked release.
With the rapid increase in kidnap cases in the country, it will be difficult for the Nigerian people known for humanitarian and selfless services to rise to save others from bondage as recent developments have given them a reason not to help.
From his sympathisers, who are members of his church who contributed the sum of N600,000 in less than a month, a lot of them could not feed but were moved by the disappearance of their cleric who had offered them spiritual guidance over the years.
If a man of God could resort to fake kidnapping, then the Nigerian mentality affects everyone, even those God speaks with often.
A pastor of a Lagos branch of the Redeemed Christian Church of God told our correspondent in confidence that members of his church were restive and doubtful of him when he climbed the altar for a Thursday sermon.
“My friend, I can’t deny the fact that we are highly respected by our members.
"They see us as the intermediary between them and the lord. They listen to us and value us.
"An act like the one you narrated directly blows the trust the congregation has in us,” he explained.
He was quite positive that members of his church won’t doubt him, but the fact that it is on record that someone had staged his kidnapping for financial reasons defeats the belief that the devil cannot sway men of God.
“Our people are intelligent people. Even if the devil shines his teeth at us, they expect us to be upright and firm.
"Though this singular act by an unsteadfast man of God won’t colour religion black, it is important that religious leaders remain stout to conquer whatever temptation”, he added.
Johnson Wuye, an atheist, felt differently when our correspondent interacted with him via telephone conversation.
He maintained that the men of God’s unending desire to enrich their pocket at the expense of the congregation’s gullibility pushed him out of religion.
“Even after what he did, you will hear people saying to err is human, to forgive his divine.
"After all, he is also human and the devil is always trying to use human beings. That’s my issue with religion.
"It is filled with double standards. I would rather remain an atheist and believe in my conscience”, he stated.
No doubt the clergyman's action has sent the wrong signals to Nigerians.
Whether you believe in religion or not, it has opened a gate for doubts and questioning the resilience of Nigerian religious leaders.
The Chief Imam of Ogbomoso land in Oyo state, Sheikh Talihat Oluwashina Yusuff Ayilara, told our correspondent in an exclusive interview that religious leaders play sacred roles but are also expected to uphold prime moral functions.
“We have huge roles to play as symbols of religious authority which we should not jeopardise.
"Members of the public believe in us and what we tell them.
"It is impossible for them to believe the message and ignore the messengers”, he furthered.
The religious leaders stand in prominent but slippery positions and staged kidnapping is an anomaly that could lead to their downfall.
Chams PLC is Nigeria’s leading provider of integrated identity management ...LEARN MORE
COURTEVILLE BUSINESS SOLUTIONS PLC (“Courteville”), is a foremost Ni...LEARN MORE
NCR Nigeria PLC was incorporated in Nigeria under the Companies and Allied Matte...LEARN MORE
On May 16, 2001, MTN became the first GSM network to make a call following the g...LEARN MORE
Omatek Ventures Plc is a Nigeria-based holding Company that was founded in 1988 ...LEARN MORE