Members of the Rev King-led Christian Pentecostal Assembly (CPA) woke up yesterday in high hopes. They were sure that after almost 10 years incarceration, their beloved church founder would finally breath an air of freedom with the Supreme Court expected to quash the death sentence received from the lower courts.
As early 7:00am, some female members were already in the church. They were wearing green T-shirts with black skirts and green berets to match.
Another group wore white T-shirts and white berets.
They swept the floor, arranged the white plastic chairs in rows and generally tidied up the church, all in anticipation of holding a victory service.
However, the planned celebration was not to be: the apex court insisted that the man his followers call “His holiness” must end on the gallows.
By 3 pm, the church gate had been shut,the crowd thinned down, their hopes of ever seeing their G.O gone.
On adjoining streets, some residents gathered, discussing the conviction in low tones.
Some were using their phones to browse through the net to confirm the authenticity of the news.
There was not a single member of the church around.
But even a first timer would not miss the larger than life image of Rev King on the church signboard and the huge, gold colour inscription of CPA on the black church gates.
Some of the residents spoke toThe Nationstill looking over their shoulders for King’s followers who are reputed for harassing people in the area.
The residents described King’s incarceration as a blessing to the street,recalling their not too pleasant experience in the hands of the church members before his arrest and subsequent trial.
One of the residents said: “One day his members beat up my wife.
“I went into the church to ask them what happened. Immediately I went in, they rushed at me. They beat my wife so badly that she ran to the police station Unclad. At the police station, they told us to go and get a medical report from Isolo General Hospital. I went and got the report.
“I later asked my wife why the CPA members beat her up. She said some children threw a banger inside the church. When the members came out, they did not ask who did it, but tried to take two of our children back into the church.
“She begged them not to take them away, but they refused. As a mother, she would not allow her children to be taken away. That was why they descended on her. I wanted to follow it up, but my uncle advised me not to go ahead with the case.He told me they were very dangerous. That was how I dropped the case.”
Residents said passers-by used to thread the street with trepidation when King still held sway, as his supporters were always suspicious of people and ever ready to vent their aggression at the slightest provocation.
People were routinely forced to remove their shoes to be allowed to walk through the area.
Asked if that was till the situation now, the man replied: “No, it is much better now. People have peace in the street. The street is peaceful now. The CPA members don’t molest anybody anymore. ”
A landlord in the area said: “He who lives by the sword, will die by the sword” when told that the Supreme Court had upheld the death sentence given to King.
Relating his own experience with the church members,the landlord said: “I know many of them because the buy things from me.
“I knew Ann very well before her death. Before the incident, it was harrowing for all of us staying in this area.
“At that time, some of the houses you see here were under construction, so some of the bricklayers would sleep in the buildings. The members of the CPA would move from house to house on Sundays and forced people to attend service.
“They had no bathroom.It was just recently that they made provision for some.
“The church members would come out and bath outside in broad daylight. To us, that was an abomination. Even up till now, some of them believe he would soon come back. I have heard them boast that when Rev King comes back, they would deal with us.
“It is unfortunate that he has been convicted, but those who live by the sword will die by the sword.If he had been released,we would have abandoned our houses.”
King’s followers are confident that he would not be hanged.
One of them who spoke withThe Nationsaid: “His holiness cannot be killed even with the Supreme Court judgment. He said it long ago that no man is capable of touching a strand of hair on his head.
“The whole drama is a calculated plan by some people to bring his ministry down. It started in June 2006 when His holiness asked cult members, herbalists and other people with shady character in the church to either declare for God or leave the church.
“After making the statement, some people who believed they were highly connected came to him and told him that they would blackmail him and make sure the ministry was brought down.
“Thereafter, this ‘frame-up’ came up. For you to know that the case was a frame-up, did they bring the dead bodies of the seven people that were allegedly killed to the court to serve as evidence?
“It was all a ruse. Those seven people in question are roaming about the street and we do see them here in Ajao Estate. It was only Ann that died and it was these seven people that killed her. It wasn’t His holiness that killed her as alleged.
“She was going to put on the generator when they set fire on it. When she was eventually taken to the hospital, they went there and used pillow to choke her to death. That was how those people who vowed to deal with His holiness started carrying out their plans. But the truth is that they cannot kill him.”
Another member, who simply identified himself as Sunny, said though the judgment was contrary to their expectations, they remain confident that he would come out unscathed.
“His holiness cannot be killed. He is more than a mere human being and cannot be killed by any mortal.
“We were waiting with high expectations that the case would be struck out. We held a vigil yesterday and went ahead to clean the church premises waiting for his return. We didn’t have to pray for the case to be struck out at the vigil because we were convinced that he would be released.
“The Supreme Court judgment cannot dampen our morale because we are convinced that he would not be killed. He is not a mere mortal like the rest of us. He will come back home at the appointed time and by then, the people behind this whole thing will bury their heads in shame.”
Another member of the church called Obi said: “The judgment which is a human decision is not the final. A judgment that will supercede this one will come. We have total confidence in our leader and this is why we have not relented in our efforts to hold service.
“In spite of the judgment, we are going to have service on Sunday and celebrate him. For you to know how powerful he is, he has been providing solutions to numerous people’s problems right from the prison walls.
“He does this using online medium. Right there in the prison, the officials don’t go close to him because of the enormity of the power he wields. If they can’t go close to him in the prison, how would it be possible for them to kill him? It is impossible. I personally received divine healing through him before his arrest. I was having a terminal ailment and when he mounted the pulpit and pointed at my direction, the sickness vanished. This was in 2006 and till date the sickness has not come back.”
CREDIT: THE NATION