You would think it was a scene from Geoffrey Chaucer’s classics, The Canterbury Tales and its tale of a group of pilgrims travelling from London to Canterbury to visit the shrine of St. Thomas Becket. Members of the Election Jury (EJ) have journeyed from earth to Heaven and are standing in the dock before The Throne, their hands clasped behind them like convicts about to deliver an allocutus. They are led by their Chairman, Justice Buba Ibrahim. Faces ashen like a four-day old excrement mercilessly petered by an angry downpour, they had died a few hours earlier and had been brought straight to the presence of The Great One.
The five of them had strapped round their loins the cloths with which they were buried while on earth. Also in the dock are Nigeria’s serial presidential aspirant, Atiku Abubakar, Mohammadu Buhari, Yemi Osinbajo and Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Ahmed Tinubu, all of whom had been summoned by Heaven’s bailiffs. They finished their earthly engagements in their 90s and had all been languishing in Hades, waiting for the Last Judgment which, according to Heaven’s Cause List, was specifically focused on the judgment delivered by the election petition crew on earth, in Nigeria, in September. By their side, in the dock, are APC Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Uche Secondus, the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and many party aficionados.
“Hail Him! Hail Him, the Lord of the Universe!!” a man who looked like a deity, his apparel white like blooming cotton in a plantation, announced.
Everybody stood to their feet. He was ostensibly Heaven’s Court Registrar. Then a heavy wind suddenly began to blow, so heavy that everyone in the court was forced to lie face down. Two cherubs flew into the Court, occupying the two sides of the mighty, gold-plated seat that stood like a judge’s seat. Everything was a total replication of the earthly courtroom. When the storm subsided, a volcano-like sound erupted in the courtroom, escorted by a heavy wind which again swept everybody, including the cherubs, to a supine state. When the wind abated and litigants began to take their positions, they beheld one indescribable personality seated on the Judge’s seat. Though he had the features of a man, the countenance was like that of a King of the Cherubs. His majesty was beyond description. He was neither man nor woman and no one could look at his face. When he spoke, his voice was like a volcanic eruption. His whole body was covered with a huge colourless cassock of no earthly description.
“Are these the litigants from Nigeria?” the voice of the person, called the Great One, boomed like multiple canyons with a reverberation that was beyond description. “Yes, My Lord!” the man who looked like a deity said, looking sideways.
The most astonishing part of this proceeding is that there are no advocates on both sides. A parchment-like scroll is handed each of the accused, containing all the charges against them. They are expected to make their allocutus right in the presence of the Great Throne.
“Buba, why is man so blind and yet I gave him two big eyes to see? Did it occur to you that I deliberately chose September 11 as date of your judgment, peradventure man would realize the need to be truthful? Have you ever seen the real size of a man’s eye, how massive it is? ” the occupier of the Great Throne with a booming canyon voice asked.
Oh, September 11! That was the day Al-Qaeda terrorists bombed the Twin-Towers in America. Could the Great One be talking of September 11 as a potentially redemptive memory for humanity, showcasing the vanity of life and the quest for man to come together, speak the truth for the liberation of mankind?
“Buba, let me ask you this, why do you earthly Judges parody the Creator by allowing yourselves to be called ‘My Lord’?”
Shaking, uncoordinated and apparently afraid, Buba muttered, “Great One, it is believed that You vested in us the role reserved only for You, the Judge of all Creations… and that we are little Creators whenever we enter the seat of Judges…”
“So if earthly Judges knew this, why do they compromise… why do they subvert the course of justice? Don’t they know that, yes the doctor can be evil, the journalist can be compromised, the accountant can be corrupt but the moment the Judge is compromised, there is no society left?”
There is eerie silence. The Heavens Chief Registrar notified the accused that, unlike in the earthly court, accused would not be sworn on oath as the Great One had second-by-second recording of all the acts of man, what transpires in his closet and indeed, what thought courses out of him at every point. He said the Great One had with him all the overtures made by both APC and PDP to members of the tribunal to subvert the course of justice. He knows who was guilty and who was worthy of an acquittal.
“Buba, and this goes for all members of your panel, do you honestly believe that the Respondent, Muhammadu, possesses a school leaving certificate, or actually passed through a secondary school?”
Still waffling, Buba muttered, “There… There was no contrary evidence before the tribunal, Great One…”
The Great One asked that one of the accused, Muhammadu, be brought before him. He had gone leaner than he was while on earth and had grown some beards, while his face was as pale as mutton. He too had the white sepulcher cloth wrapped round his loins and he was taller than everyone in the courtroom.
“Mohammadu, you are before the Great Throne. Hope you know that any lie you tell here will earn you everlasting fire in Jahamah? Right, did you win the 2019 presidential election?”
“They… they told me I won, Great One,” he said, to which the Great One further enquired, “Who are the ‘they’?” Mohammadu had a long list of the “they,” ranging from Oshiomhole, Tinubu, Lai Mohammed, etc. Some of them could not be subpoenaed before the Throne because they are still on earth. This necessitated the Registrar asking Oshiomhole and Tinubu to be brought before the Throne.
“Did you make overtures to members of Buba’s tribunal in respect of this judgment?” the Great One asked. “I…I…I am not aware, Great One,” the Chairman of the APC replied. The Judge then asked the Registrar to show the litigants what looked like a slide. Unlike a slide however, the characters bore real human features and the scene was the personalities themselves, live. On seeing the slide, they fell face flat on the floor, weeping like babies. Without saying anything, the Great One asked that Abubakar and Secondus be invited before the Great Throne.
“Abu, I do not need to tell you that you are before the Great Throne… and that you know the consequences of not being truthful here. Let me remind you that you are no longer on earth and what we need here is just a simple corroboration. We have slides of all your earthly engagements. Did you win the last election?”
“I was told by my people that Mohammadu and his people rigged me out, Great One…” Abubakar said. “Once again, I ask, did you win the last election… did you send people to compromise Buba and his team?” the Great One again asked. Before he could say anything, the slides were showing on the board. And Abubakar too fell down, weeping.
Then the Great One began what looked like a judgment. He found all of them guilty. He told Buba and his panel members that they were poor imitations of the Throne which He said was the initial design of the Creator in a Judge. “The Judge must have in mind in every of his pronouncements on the bench that today will come, the day of Judgment. I am specifically interested in earthly judges because they are my idea of judgment. Every act of the Judge is recorded in the Slides of Heaven and they will give special account before the Great Throne,” He said.
“Abubakar, your guilt before the Great Throne is that you are not my idea of a President of a country I created to change the lives of my people,” the Great One began. “You represent virtually all the evils, the vices that my people are crying over. I personally frustrated your ascension to that earthly throne because you are not different from those who have ruined that country. If I had allowed you to become President, you would have surrounded yourself with the Ayo Fayoses, the Nyensom Wikes, the same people who have brought sorrow and tears to my people on earth.”
The Great One faced Mohammadu, who was lying on the floor, weeping and dabbing his tears with his sepulcher cloth. “Mohammadu, I allowed you the first and the second time, knowing your limitations. I deliberately ensured that you were brought on the Kadaria Ahmed’s show of the NTA shortly before the 2019 election, to show you to the people of Nigeria as incapable of leading them to any Promised Land. For once, I left Nigerians to their fates. I was not surprised that, in spite of all I showed them about you, because of what your people wanted to eat, they kept on routing for you as President of Nigeria.”
He turned to Osinbajo and said, “I weep every day when I review your stewardship on earth. You are a sad reminder of the stewardship of my Arch-Angel, Lucifer, while he was here with me in Heaven. You sold so much untruths to my people, all in the name of your ambition and your comfort. You even profaned my name, prefixing my church to your name. Of all of them, you were the one who made me weep daily throughout your period of being in government.”
“Adams, Adams, Adams…” the Great One continued, facing Oshiomhole, who was sprawled on the floor, weeping, aware that the Sword was dangling. “I denied you education, but I compensated you with the gift of the garbs. Adams, you have disappointed me. You make me remember my creature I called home last week, Bob Mugabe. You are involved in all destructive human engagements, all in the name of politics.”
When the Heavenly Registrar brought Tinubu forward for his own verdict, there was pin drop silence. Like earthly judges, the Great One cleared his throat. “I don’t want to call you that name they call you. You are the greatest disappointment of them all. You foisted Muhammadu and all his gross incompetence on your people, for your selfish interests. You are the greatest example of how I bring man from the miry clay. I pretended as if I had forgotten all your infractions… all your evil deeds, yet you still persisted, even up until I took back your soul to receive your judgment…”
Then a very massive storm coursed through the courtroom. It was as if the room would fall. The Great One suddenly turned His back on the court. And he began to speak, as if amid weeping. “My judgment is this: All of you would roast forever in Hell. I have instructed the guardians of Hades to increase the intensity of the fire. You made living a hell for my people; you lied from the base of power at every point.”
As the accused began another round of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, this time, a far stronger storm engulfed the courtroom. In a jiffy, the Great One could not be seen any longer. And Heaven’s policemen came in, shepherding the convicts to a great dungeon they call “Eternal Damnation Only.”
When I saw the picture of Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, in a group photograph with a man clutching an AK-47 assault rifle, said to be the leader of bandits who killed and maimed hundreds of people in Katsina state recently, what came to my mind was Richard Rive’s short story entitled, Resurrection. Resurrection is a story in Alex la Guma’s collection of short stories entitled Quartet. It was set at a funeral.
Old Maria Wilhelmina Loupser, who though black, was married to a white man, had just died at the age of 75. Frustrated till she headed for the sepulcher, she had four children, Jim, Rosie and Sonny who were white and Marvin, whose skin pigmentation marks her out for the mockery of the then South African white-dominated system. Marvin was black like her mother. Due to the color of their skins, the children hated their mother to her death. Because she constituted a source of embarrassment to them, especially in the presence of their friends who came visiting, Old Maria and Marvin were consigned to the kitchen’s back door and lived inside the boys’ quarters.
“They want me out of the way too, Ma, because you made me black like you, I am also your child, Ma. I belong to you. They want me also to stay in the kitchen and use the back door. We must not be seen, Ma, their friends must not see us. We embarrass them, Ma, so they hate us. They hate us because we’re black. You and I, Ma,” Marvin soliloquized by the corpse of Old Maria.
The part of Resurrection that suits the scandal in Katsina State that is Masari is Marvin’s stream of soliloquy, punishing one at that, a long mourn of Old Maria’s painful death and searing fate in the hands of her white children.
Rive, reporting Marvin’s dialogue with Old Maria over their racial fates as mother and child in the hands of their blood kin, had said: “And she had tormented the Old Woman, who did not retaliate. Who could not retaliate. Who could not understand. Now she sat tortured with memories as they sang hymns for Ma.”
Masari, apparently in his search for peace in Katsina State, had entered into negotiations with the dangerous and maniacal bandits whose atrocities have painted the media crimson. Apart from their kin, Boko Haram insurgents, these bandits have caused so much unmitigated havoc in the country, killing hundreds of people and freezing investments into the zone. In Masari’s photo-op with the leader of the bandits, who is asking the simple question: what is the lot of hundreds of people who were sent to their painful early graves by the bandits? Who is negotiating for their families at the moment while Masari is negotiating with the bandits? Who is negotiating for the hundreds of the maimed, families that are literally dead here on earth as a result of the madness of the bandits? Who is negotiating for them?
Like every Third World country where attention is seldom on the victims but their victimizers, it is apparent that the world’s attention would be on the stumbling block to peace which the bandits are and not those whose lives they have taken. This is where I find Rive’s very instructive. Like the tormented Old Maria Wilhelmina Loupser, the victims of Katsina’s bandits are lying disconsolate in a God-knows-where, forlorn and lost to the world. Fathers are weeping uncontrollably somewhere, lamenting the losses of their children who were slaughtered like rams by the maniacal bandits. Soldiers who were killed by the bandits had wives, fathers, mothers and siblings, you know?
Like the tormented Old Woman who did not retaliate, who could not retaliate, the victims are lying in some dinghy sepulcher, unable to retaliate and dead to the emotions and sympathy of the world. But beyond them, their dependents who have no wherewithal to continue this journey would never understand, like Old Maria, why their lives can never and would never matter to the Masaris.
The one that seems most bothersome is the picture of the Chief Security Officer of President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state in camaraderie with an acknowledged bandit. Perhaps the next picture we would have is the President himself in a pose with one of the gangsters. The only fitting analogy in Resurrection that I can imagine is a Marvin asking for a photo-op with her tormentors, Jim, Rosie and Sonny. It was even said that there are negotiations between the bandits and government and arrested murderers/bandits are being exchanged for people who were kidnapped. When did Nigeria or its state become this type of sissy that it had to surrender state power to bandits?
Anyway, as Masari negotiates with the bandits, can he please spare a thought for the victims as well; the hapless soldiers whose families lay disconsolate back home, the thousands of people who are homeless at the moment and the thousands of dependents of the dead whose tomorrow has been punctured midstream?