Chibuike has always been a religious somebody; maybe because he once wanted to go to a seminary.
He was the type of person that took church seriously. We, too, the rest of the family, it’s not as if we are pagans. We were all raised in the Roman Catholic ways, we are all practising Christians but you know we approach our faith differently.
For Chibuike, he believed very much in what the priest or pastor says, well, to everyman his own belief, right?
How did this trouble start for us?
I told you before, Chibuike took Christianity seriously; he was an altar boy but when he finished secondary school, he went to do university in the north and it was from there that he joined the Pentecostals. He became even more serious with his Christianity which was all well and good.
But he also became the type of person that would consult one pastor or another before he did anything or if anything happened to him.
I will give you an example. There was this girl he was supposed to marry when he finished uni, fine sweet girl, like this. Florence was her name and everybody in the family was expecting that once Chibu was ready, it would be Florence. I mean, the girl would come to the house, cook, clean, you know wife material girl, now.
Ehen, that’s how one day my brother told us that he would not marry Florence.
What did Florence do?
He said his pastor said she is not the wife God ordained for him.
Chineke! When should a pastor be the one to tell you who to marry? So, God cannot talk to you Himself?
We begged Chibu to re-consider because the Florence girl I was seeing, was such a decent girl in these days that girls have become bold and they are even more wild than their male counterparts. There was nothing we did not say to make Chibu himself change his mind, he said, no, Pastor said Florence is not his wife.
If it wasn’t that it would look somehow, I would have married that girl myself, I swear. I felt bad for the girl.
Another time, Chibu came and told us that his pastor said he should move away from where he was living that there was something buried in the foundation delaying his progress. Biko, what kind of thing is this?
So, how will you know what is buried in the next house you move into? You see what I mean? You call yourself a Christian, you are afraid of house, afraid of woman, afraid of everything. If Chibu wanted to travel to common Zaria or Enugu anywhere at all, he must consult his pastor, ‘Pastor biko, I want to travel, is it safe? Can I go?’
How long will a man live like that? I told him my mind, I told him, ‘Chibuike, your name is not ordinary, God is already involved in your matter, don’t let any pastor be telling you what to do, how to do. You say you are a Christian, talk to God yourself, na, abi God does not want to hear your own voice? Is it only your pastor’s voice that God hears?’
Ok, so that is the kind of person my brother was, oh?
Then sometime a few weeks back, he bought a car, Toyota Camry, 2015 edition. Fine car. He told me on the phone, even sent the picture to me on WhatsApp. I was happy for him. I asked him, so when are we going to wash it? He said he would contact me later that he wants to, first of all, take it to pastor to bless the car then he would tell me when we will wash it.
I didn’t even argue as that was his normal way I just said, ok, go see pastor and come back, we dey here, after pastor blesses the car, we will pour our own on it and wash it, no devil can get us!
The day he was going to pastor, he told me. So I waited, I said, let me give him, two hours or three, then he would call me to tell me where we would meet.
I was busy at the workshop that day so I didn’t even realise time was far gone and it was about five hours later that I realised Chibu hadn’t called.
I checked my whatsapp, no message from him. I began to wonder, did he change his mind, was he caught in traffic, I was just thinking, then I decided to call him.
I called and called and called, his phone did not connect.
I waited for another 30 minutes and called again and again. One hour passed, two hours, I called again. At that time, I was not panicking, I just thought maybe his phone battery died and he couldn’t charge it, so I waited and called again.
Throughout that day, I didn’t connect with my brother. I then called one of his friends, Frank, they lived in the same flat, that one too said he hadn’t seen him since 10 am that morning when he told him he was going to the pastor’s place for prayer.
It was after that call that I began to panic. What has happened to my brother? In this town where kidnappers are kidnapping even poor people, maybe someone saw his new car, followed him and kidnapped him.
So, I called the rest of our family, called all of them to gather at my place the following morning, since the last place he said he was going was pastor’s place, I said let’s go there. I don’t know the place but Frank his friend knew the pastor’s place.
Meanwhile, throughout the night, we kept calling Chibu’s number, nothing happened. So that day, Frank came and he led us to Pastor’s place.
Come and see the yeye pastor plus the ramshackle place he calls a church. Anyway, we went there, pastor refused to come out! I told his ushers, better tell him to tell me where my brother is otherwise God will receive visitors today.
Then they went to tell him, he came out and said, true Chibu came but he left since.
I didn’t believe the pastor, in fact, the way I saw him, he looked more like a herbalist than a pastor and I was disappointed in my brother, so this is the dirty stinky man you come to for spiritual guidance?
Anyway, when I see Chibu, I would give him a piece of my mind, let’s find him first, I cautioned myself. So, after we created wahala, I told Pastor, I would be back!
We kept looking everywhere, mortuary, hospital, asking people about our brother, we went to different places that we knew he often frequents, we didn’t get any link as to where he might be. After about five days or so, I believed that my brother may be dead and that pastor knew about it.
Why did I conclude like that?
A young man cannot just disappear like that. If he had been kidnapped, we would find his car at least, we would have been called for ransom but in almost one week after his disappearance, nothing came out.
So we decided, enough was enough, we would go and report to the police. We went there and reported and they followed us to the pastor’s place being that it was the last place he was said to have been.
They invited the pastor to the station and began to interrogate him. After about two hours or so, they sent some police people to go and check the church premises…that was when they found my brother in a shallow grave.,
My brother had been murdered and his phone and sim card and even his car were found inside the bush behind the pastor’s house!
The police have since arrested the evil pastor. They are still talking to him. This should be a lesson for those people who think their pastors are more than God. See what happened to my brother, see life?
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)