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Vanity upon Evanity

SO much has been written already about this prince of darkness, this dethroned, kidnapping king of the underworld that you wonder where to start.  Let me start with you my God and my master whom I have the impudence to call my friend. 

Mighty One, we worship you, we bless you, we honour you, we thank you.  You who have been our God from ages past, our refuge, our keeper, our security, our ultimate policeman.    You whose words say that “unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards watch in vain.”

You whose arms are so long, arms that you use in doing good and not evil.  This morning I sing for you that Igbo traditional gospel song: Aka Jehovah…”  A song I love so much and I sing every morning in my heart as one of my favourite worship songs.

Your legs and arms are so long, O Jehovah, that no sinner, no armed robber, no killer, no kidnapper can escape from you—you the owner and master of the universe.  You the omnipresent God whose presence can be felt everywhere—on land, in the sky and even below the mighty seas.  Everywhere, you are there.  The wicked man who has broken the law of God and the law of man is on the run, running from himself, running from the law, but in the end the long arms of the law which is the same as the hand of God, will catch him.  It has finally caught you Mr. Kidnapper, Mr. Evans or whatever you call yourself.

There you are now, on television, on radio, in the newspapers, in the social media, a celebrity for the wrong reasons.  The invisible man, the strong man, the most fearful man, the most wanted criminal who has been evading the law for the past seven years, using all kinds of sophisticated gadgets to avoid being tracked has finally been tracked and reduced to nothing.  Look at you now, the heavyweight champion of crime, the kidnapper king of the underworld, the extraordinary man turned ordinary.  You who went after the high and mighty, kidnapping them and asking for mighty ransom.  You who returned us into a Hobbesian state of anarchy and savagery where dogs eat dogs.  You who reaped where you didn’t sow.  You who amassed wealth by kidnapping and stealing from the rich.  I would have called you Robin Hood who also stole from the rich but you are no Robin Hood.  Robin Hood at least shared his stolen wealth among the poor.  You didn’t.  You are like “Ivan the terrible,” the Russian tsar who tortured and killed friends and people related to him.  He even killed his own son!   In your case, you mainly targeted your own people: Your rich brothers, nabobs of the east, people mainly from your Igbo tribe, the tribe of hard-working Nigerian entrepreneurs.  You are like Cain in the Bible.  The Cain that killed his brother Abel and arrogantly replied God when questioned: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  You are worse than Cain.  Thank God, nemesis has caught up with you.  What goes around comes around.  What you sow is what you reap.  Karma is here for you.  The long arms of the law have finally caught you, hands down!  Nowhere to run to now.  Nowhere to hide.        

Look at you now, your eyes red, bruised and swollen as if battered in a boxing bout with Anthony Joshua or Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao.  Look at you, a Samson in chains, powerless and eyeless in Gaza, ridiculed among the Philistines, betrayed by a woman, a girlfriend who sold you out after she was arrested and quizzed by the police.

Your story is good for a movie, for Nollywood.  I trust Nigerians.  Very soon a creative producer and a scriptwriter will “see business” in this (just like you saw business in kidnapping) and come up with your movie: “Evans, the kidnapper king of Nigeria.”  In it, we will see a man who is just like any of us in this God’s own country.  We will see a family man who, according to his wife, prays every morning with his family, reads Psalms and who recites the Lord’s Prayer every day, yet goes out to work for the devil.  When he prays to God to “give us this day our daily bread” what that means for Evans is that God should bless him with a rich man whom he would waylay, kidnap and incarcerate until a huge ransom is paid in dollars and euros.  What kind of wicked, bloodthirsty God does Evans pray to and get answers amounting to millions of dollars?  And does he pay tithe after every kidnap and ransom extracted from people in the throes of death?

It’s so sad and tragic that for seven good years, this wickedness, this treachery, was going on underground in Nigeria with innocent, hard-working people losing their lifetime fortunes to an evil genius of a man who collects money in hard currency then laughs all the way to the bank with his filthy lucre. 

I cried after reading in the Saturday Vanguard and even had to call and congratulate the editor Onochie Anibeze for the stories of the unfortunate, poor rich men kidnapped and imprisoned in Evans’ Gulag, a place far worse than Hitler’s concentration camp.  Men, who at the threat of losing their lives gave everything they were asked in a bid to buy freedom from the hands of the greatest extortionist ever in Nigeria’s history—this Evans of a man!

This man who doesn’t collect naira but dollars and euros from his victims.  This Shylock of a man who will collect every levy he imposes on you till the last cent or dollar before he sets you free—if you are lucky to be set free after payment.  This man who doesn’t know what it means to show mercy.  This man who is now pleading to be spared and given a second chance.  This man who has mansions upon mansions everywhere around the world, built out of blood money.  This man of whom the Bible says: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose your soul?”  This man who is the epitome of what the Book of Ecclesiastes calls “vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”

We thank and bless God for the arrest of this man who says his arrest marks the beginning of the end for kidnapping.  We pray that all other captives arrested by kidnappers, particularly those innocent schoolchildren still in captivity, will regain their freedom and be free at last, never again to see this scourge rooted in the love for money which is the cause and motivation for all evils.  Like the evils of Evans who has learnt belatedly that crime doesn’t pay, even if it appears to pay when the victims are paying their ransoms in millions of dollars and everything looks rosy.  Until the die is cast and you are caught and you begin to sing like Brother Evans is singing now from his cell where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

Who will tell him now the wise words of King Solomon that “it is better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and rich?”  Or better still a good name is better than all the riches and the vanities of this world.

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