For many years, Deaconess Eunice Olawale played the role of an evangelist in Gbazango, a sprawling settlement in Kubwa, one of the satellite towns of Abuja. Like the town crier in a typical African village, she was usually the first to hit the streets, announcing her message loudly to the hearing of early risers and even those who were still on their beds.
It was a daily routine undertaken just before the break of dawn. Her only tools were a copy of The Bible and a megaphone with which she amplified her message to everyone who cared to listen.
They call it “morning cry” because of the timing and the fact that it was meant to awaken the spiritual consciousness of the people in the neighbourhood and encourage them to seek salvation through Jesus Christ.
She did not care about the darkness because she knew that soon, a bright new day will be born. Last Saturday, the courageous female preacher fell into the hands of some bandits who attacked and murdered her in cold blood.
The unknown assailants might be those whom she had been asking to repent and flee from evil. Rather than heed her advice, they hunted her down, slit her throat, stabbed her in the breast and left her to die in a pool of her own blood.
The incident took place about a hundred meters from her home. Those in the neighbourhood said they heard her shouting: Blood of Jesus! Blood of Jesus! Some said they were not sure her shouts were out of panic or part of her sermon.
Husband to the deceased, Pastor Elisha Olawale, said his wife had some time ago told him that certain people were not happy about her early morning preaching in the area.
According to him, he advised the wife to be careful. He probably under- estimated the threat to the life of his beloved wife. Prophet Steven Ayodele, elder brother to the murdered preacher said he saw her late sister’s death coming. In an interview with Saturday Telegraph at the residence of the deceased, Ayodele who is a pastor at the Christ Apostolic Church, Power of Restoration, Parkview Estate, Ikorodu, Lagos, said he had a premonition of his sister’s murder through a dream.
According to him, it was after receiving the news of her death, that he remembered a dream he had about a month ago. He said: “We spoke to each other several times on Friday.
But it got to a point that I told her that they (she and her husband) should not travel because I saw death coming on their way. I am a minister of God in the Christ Apostolic Church but when you see such things, you don’t need to shout; you just block the way so that the person does not fall into the pit. So I told them not to travel and they accepted and did not go beyond what I told them.
“I made myself available to God to see clearly something for my younger ones. As a man of God, I don’t have anything that I am doing; only the ministry.”
However, there is a general belief that those who died in the course of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ did not die in vain. The testimonies of many sympathisers who thronged the home of the deceased pointed to the fact that she was a pious and devout Christian who should find a place of rest in the bosom of the Lord.
Prophet Ayodele alluded to this belief when he again revealed that he saw a vision in which his sister was being absorbed into the silky white clouds.
“When I got to the mortuary to see the corpse, I looked at it; though I have been crying before but immediately I looked at the corpse, I knew there was no need to cry again.
On that fateful day, I saw a cloud descending towards my sister. It was just like when they say the cloud came down. I saw her wearing white lace entering inside the cloud. There is a way she was entering before the white cloud closed up and became gold. I said that I know my sister has gone to heaven, but she is too young.”
The Nigeria Police, Kubwa Division, was responsible for recovering the corpse of the woman. They deposited the body at the mortuary of the Kubwa General Hospital while they later made some arrests.
The family of the deceased said they would not bury the late preacher until the police concluded their investigation because a hurried burial could truncate full investigation into the incident.
Apparently not too confident about police investigations into such murder cases in Nigeria, Ayodele said they had adopted a wait and see attitude to give the police every opportunity to do their job.
“This is a nation where they will see white and call it yellow. The security apparatus in this country is made up of experts and they can work if they really want to work.
But sometimes, if they see the truth, they cover it and continue to say another thing. I’m using this medium to reach out to the police; they should ensure that they find the killers. They should ensure that they trace this matter to its root.
The case should not die until those who killed my sister are brought to book.”
According to Ayodeke, the family has been shielding the 79-year-old father of the deceased from the sad news because it could worsen h i s health condition. “My father has been sick and he is with me in Lagos. We have not told him of her death because he would just die. He wanted to speak with her yesterday after service. We have not informed him,” he said
The residents of Gbazango are largely the urban – poor, low income earners who have managed to procure parcels of land to erect their private homes. Many are tenants who have taken shelter on rent.
Then of course, there are hordes of unemployed youths who roam the streets daily in search of survival. A good percentage of the unemployed people in this community are squatters who live in makeshift structures and sleep on the tables left by traders in the neighbourhood market. It is doubtful if the community exists on the so-called Abuja Masterplan because there is virtually nothing to show that government knows that people exist there. The roads in the neighbourhood are untarred, undulating and bumpy.
The streets have neither names nor directional signs. There are no streetlights and one could bump into another person struggling to find their way through the dark streets. Even then, there are several entry and exit points and it will be practically impossible to monitor the movement of people, let alone secure the area.
Saturday Telegraph learnt that the community has a history of violence. Incidents of murder, armed robbery and burglary had taken place in previous years. Rabiu Lawal, a resident of the area, narrated how he was nearly killed one early morning while he was on his way to the mosque for an early morning prayer.
According to Lawal, he was hurrying to meet the prayers when he ran into a group of bandits operating in one of the compounds at the corner of the street.
“They had already broken into the compound probably through the fence. Some of them were inside throwing the items they had stolen to their gang members standing at the other side of the fence. When I saw what was going on, I asked them: what are you doing? One of them simply responded by drawing a long knife from his side.
The moment I saw the knife, I ran away because I knew I was in danger. I didn’t go to the mosque again that morning. “On another occasion, it happened in the evening when I went with my son to greet a neighbour. As we were returning, I realised the road was becoming lonely and I tried to hurry home.
Then a group of boys appeared from a street corner. It was not dark yet so I could see that some of them wore charms on their arms and were smoking marijuana and moving in a dangerous manner. I could not turn back but I simply held my son and we stayed in a corner to allow them pass. I guess they were going for an operation,” Lawal said.
Pastor Sola Shittu, one of the pastors of the Redeemed Christian Church of God described the deceased as a very caring, loving mother who was quite popular in the community.
He however lamented that it was unfortunate that she had to be murdered in an environment where she lived and was well known. “We all called her Madam Gbazango, everyone in this neighbourhood knows her and knows her as pastor’s wife. We were early residents here. This market that you see was a bush where we used to farm.
All these houses were not here at that time. The woman was a very pleasant woman, easy going. Where this woman was killed was the Parish where I started. I was posted out of here to another one.
“I have my reservations when it comes to religious matters because it is the work of extremists. The environment is not really a black hole but we have miscreants around here. If she is preaching, is there any crime in that? That junction has a history of violence. I once escaped an attack but not this kind. I was attacked by these miscreants.
Not only that, one of my church members also escaped death some time ago. There is a history of violence in what is happening here. The Police are rather recalcitrant when it comes to matters like this. They don’t act fast until it is too late,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command, yesterday said it was still investigating the gruesome murder of the female preacher. The police had earlier in the week announced the arrest of six suspected killers of the pastor, whose identities they failed to disclose.
However, when Saturday Telegraph made enquiries on the progress made so far in respect of the heinous crime, the police said investigation had yet to be concluded.
In a brief telephone conversation with Saturday Telegraph yesterday, the FCT Police Public Relations Officer, Anjuguri Manzah, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, said: “Investigation is still ongoing; we are still interrogating them (suspected killers).”
culled from www.newtelegraphonline.com