BODE George finished his prison sentence on Saturday February 26, 2011 and moved straight from Kirikiri prison to Cathedral Church of Christ for a thanksgiving service to God Almighty who preserved him while he served the punishment meted out to him by the State for his infraction against the laws of the land.
From the church he and his wellwishers proceeded to further celebrate his happy survival. From the flurry of reactions concerning these celebrations, I am persuaded that Chief George has every reason to continue thanking God and celebrating the preservation of his life.
I am truly shocked about what I consider a mixture of righteous indignation, “bad belle”, envy, ignorance, wickedness, political brinkmanship, sheer hypocrisy and even ignorance by all the diverse and disparate people who for sundry reasons either condemn Bode George for going to Church and/or for the partying that followed thereafter.
A commentator on page 14 of Businessday of Thursday March 3, 2010 even attacked a Church for hosting Bode George’s thanksgiving service. Read Mr. Ojenagbon: “What is more, that a church agreed to host an elaborate thanksgiving Service for an ex-convict only shows the connivance of some of our religious leaders in perpetuating corruption”. What warped logic?
I have tried to fathom the reason both in civics and morality why people should disparage a man’s apparent reintegration into society by his peers and associates after he has paid the price for his misadventure and I cannot find one.
It is the duty of every decent society and government to ensure the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-convicts all over the world. It is trite that crimes are committed against the state and once the state exerts its punishment, the offender has paid the price and is deemed not obligated to the state or any other person thereafter; to ensure non-stigmatisation (except in cases of sexual offenders or serial abusers), society indeed monitors the ex-con for good behaviour in order to recommend for a state pardon thereafter, a pardon totally completely wipes the slate as if no offence was ever committed.
I knew, I must write this article when even very highly placed religious leaders joined in condemning Bode George and his well wishers who joined to celebrate his survival and release from prison. I deliberately used “survival” and “release” to emphasise the great danger a VIP prisoner is exposed to once he is in the Nigerian gulag. Please remember that Chief Bisi Onabanjo and Professor Ambrose Alli barely survived their incarceration; the tragedy of Bashorun MKO Abiola and General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua is also well known.
When Bode George proceeded to the church, he rightly went to thank God. Remember our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ came to save sinners like George and I, and George being a Christian knew that a priest would deliver a sermon.
The Reverend Tayo Aduloju(God bless his ministry) told the congregation and George in particular the truth of life.
Hear him: “If you are involved in any shady deal; if you are found anywhere elections are rigged; and partake in any form of manipulation, it means you have not learnt anything from your experience. Real power belongs to God. It does not belong to PDP. It does not belong to any president …as from today, you are expected to represent Christ.
You are an ambassador to Christ. Never again will the name of God be soiled through you…if you commit any of these sins you will go to hell”. Now if Bode George did not go for the thanksgiving who would have told him these home truths?
Now on the issue of the religious leaders who condemned the celebrations, some of them may say that Bode George and his clique have not shown remorse or contrition for his misdeeds. I humbly declare that none of them is in a position to assert that, since the man in the moments after his prison sojourn did not evince nor declare any statement to bolster such a notion.
Mr. CHIBUZO AZIKE, a lawyer, writes from Lagos.