BY OLA KEHINDE-BALOGUN (Daily Sun)
Sunday, December 21, 2014, would remain evergreen in the minds of inmates and officials of the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison, Apapa, Lagos. It was the day the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor E.A. Adeboye, called at the facility and made prophetic declaration of hopes to the inmates and officials of the prison. Some donations were also made to the inmates.
Like the biblical Balm of Gilead, the prophetic words of encouragement that were uttered to inmates by the respected man of God could be said to be fully comforting and emotionally soothing. Some prison officials, who pleaded anonymity, confessed to the reporter: “It was a calm moment today as ever, being under Daddy G.O. Every hurting inmate got some relief, including other participants like us.”
Upon arrival at the facility, Pastor Adeboye was welcomed by a team of top prison officials, including the Deputy Controller of Prison, M.O.O. Olaniran, as well as the accompanying pastorate of the RCCG. The man of God thereafter proceeded to the commissioning of solar lights, as part of activities that marked the 2014 Kirikiri Maximum Prison’s end-of the-year service.
Pastor Adeboye was similarly welcomed to the church service by Pastor-in-charge of Liberty Church, Tunwashe Kabiru, who appreciated the kindness and philanthropy of Pastor Adeboye over the years to the prison service. He listed some of Pastor Adeboye ‘s kind gestures to include the renovation and equipment of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) building in 2010, payment of the tuition of ten of NOUN students since 2011 as well as the renovation with full equipment of the computer class in 2012, among other laudable acts of philanthropy.
Pastor Kabiru stated further that the sermons and weekly visitations to RCCG parishes by Pastor Adeboye are really causing a dramatic positively turnarounds in the lives of many physically and spiritually. asserting that, like Oliver Twist, “we need more.”
Pastor Kabiru listed a number of other requests to the revered man of God, including a plea for the renovation and re-equipment of vocational workshops, especially in the tailoring, shoe making and carpentry departments.
He explained further: “An inmate who sustained a fracture on his leg while playing football on the field, requires a surgical operation that would cost about N300,000. We need your help Baba to do this.
“Above all, uppermost in the heart of every inmate is freedom. We therefore plead that you solicit on our behalf to the state governors, especially the South-West governors of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun Ondo, Ekiti, Edo and others, most especially for the condemned convicts.
“Once again, we desire that this event comes up annually, rather than once in two years,” the pastor pleaded.
While listening to testimonies of some inmates, the attentive congregation appeared quite sober in apparent reflection. While some members of the congregation shook their heads in pity, some others kept mouths agape, obviously unable to conceal their utter shock, especially on the fate of some inmates that had spent many years awaiting trial.
A good-looking and well-dressed inmate, identified simply as John, (other names withheld by us) who shared his story while giving his testimony said: “Since I have been in this confinement, no family member has checked on me. I have been abandoned to my fate. I’m glad for meeting good parenthood in our fathers and mothers here.”
Another inmate, David (other names withheld by us) equally narrated his story. He stated: “I have been in detention here since 2010. For four years, I was not tried, until recently. Then I was sentenced to a three-year jail term. I’m glad because my mother and wife have stood by me, and have encouraged me to keep on, as three years is not so much a long duration again, having waited for some four years.”
In his reaction, Pastor E.A. Adeboye said all the requests made by the inmates through the pastor in charge of Liberty Church, had been granted and would be sorted in due course. He spoke on the inmate that had been in detention for four years, and promised that the RCCG legal unit would look into the issue to determine if his detention of four years had not covered for his three-year sentence.
The General Overseer recollected some of his efforts over the years in pleading on behalf of the inmates, especially convicted inmates. He said: “Some time ago when I was here, I was touched by a young man’s story. The young man had slapped his friend during an argument, resulting in the friend’s death. For this reason, he was arrested and detained for 27 years without trial.
“The man had told me then: “Because execution is done at the early hour of the day, I had waited till 4.00am every morning before sleeping to be sure it was not my turn. I waited for 27 years.’ I could not imagine the trauma this man must have passed through awaiting his turn for death for 27 years. Because of this, I spoke with the then President Obasanjo, who directed me to the former governor, Tinubu, who also directed me to the Chief Judge. Eventually, something was done I believe. Same way, we will not relent in interceding and pleading on your behalf before the authorities,” Pastor Adeboye assured.
The RCCG General Overseer charged the inmates to put all their trust in God only, as humans could fail anytime. “The friend you call your friend is not really your friend until you get into real trouble. Only God will not abandon you,” he noted.
He congratulated the inmates whose lives had witnessed redemption. He emphasised that “there are many prisoners out there. I know a number of rich men who cannot sleep in the night, and who cannot share their stories with anyone. Hence, they are imprisoned within.
A popular chorus: You don’t have to worry, you don’t have to fear… was rendered by the RCCG choir during the event, even as some members of the congregation shed tears as the song was being sung.