By Sam Eyoboka & Olayinka Latona
EXTORTION, literally means “twisting out”; obtaining money or other belongings by violence, threats or unreasonable demands.
Going by biblical principles, extortion is supposed to be an alien among children of God and in a holy ground because the Bible, the standard for every Christian, has some passages in the Old and New Testaments where extortion is condemned.
I Corinthians 6:10 says: “Thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists, shall inherit the kingdom of God”.
Likewise, Ezekiel 22:12b has this to say: “And thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbours by extortion, and hast forgotten me, saith the Lord God”.
Participants at the ongoing 66th annual convention of RCCG loudly complained about the treatment meted to them by motorists who increased prices of transportation by about 50 per cent.
Some physically challenged persons who made efforts to make it to the camp with high expectation of a divine intervention, were not spared. Saturday Vanguard witnessed how majority of the mini buses and the tricycles operators, also known as Keke Marwa in some parts of the country, hiked their transport fares within the camp ground making it difficult for many participants, who could not afford such high fares, to trek long distances to get to their destinations.
Our findings revealed that large number of the transporters from neighbouring Oyo, Ogun and Lagos states stubbornly refused to comply with the camp’s regulatory fees stickers. Such transporters simply refused to paste such stickers on their vehicles where passengers could see them.
The official sticker stated that all routes from the main gate to Old Auditorium should attract N50 while a longer route would be N70. But passengers were charged N100 for the N50 routes and N150 for the N70 routes.
An elderly woman whose husband was on a wheel chair after the Wednesday evening service, narrated how she was stranded for hours as the tricycle operators charged her twice the normal fee.
“I have been here for long, looking for a tricycle that will convey us to our apartment around the Holiness Road roundabout towards the main gate but I am surprised that these drivers are charging me N500 instead of N200.
“They did not even pity my husband’s condition. It was one of the worshipers that assisted me with N200. It is a pity that we are experiencing this type of extortion in the church,” the woman tearfully narrated.
Some of the tricycle operators in separate interviews gave reasons they could not comply with the church regulation, saying that they paid N1,300 to the church authority, and were expected to deliver the sum of N4,000 daily to the owners.
One of them who pleaded anonymity, justified their action saying: “We have to increase the fare because we paid N1,300 to register. Some of us paid more than that. I have to remit N4,000 everyday to the owner of the Keke before I’ll work for myself. So, as you can see, it is not our making.
“Daddy G.O. should please come to our rescue by reducing the registration fee. One of my friends said Daddy might not be aware of such payment and I believe him, because Pastor Adeboye is a true man of God and I believe he would never support such thing,” he said.
Building empires within the auditorium
THE leadership of the church has always been emphasizing the need for a clean environment, stressing that cleanliness is next to Godliness. As a result, Pastor Enoch Adeboye maintain a daily environmental report of dormitories within the camp, to motivate participants on the need to clean their surroundings in addition to the efforts of the sanitation department which parades every nook and cranny of the Auditoriums to remove every piece of debris.
Despite the numerous announcements from the church leaders including the General Overseer to rid the auditorium of stoves and other cooking materials which could endanger the lives of participants some people still used them.
Some of the worshipers allow their children to defecate inside the place of worship.
Some of those who arrived early fence a large space, building empires with benches and plastic chairs, an act that prevents other worshipers from having seats.