Another intriguing article from The Spectator of Nigeria chronicling the journey of three armed robbers to repentance and subsequent deliverance at The SCOAN, all after watching Emmanuel TV. This is what our ministry is all about – changing lives, changing nations, changing the world!
Our Business Of Blood And Money – How T.B. Joshua Saved Us
They are born by different parents. They are from different towns. They grew up in different places. But they have a common denomination. They were once armed robbers. Their trade ranges from robbing passengers of their mobile phones in moving buses to stealing goats, and to bloody, murderous highway hold ups. Their stories are lessons of how bad companies transform juveniles into daring sons of Barabbas’. Sons of the gun. Their confessions were not given under duress, neither in a police cell. It came as a result of their life-changing encounter with General Overseer of The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations, Prophet T.B. Joshua. The stranger-than-fiction true confessions by these three young men, who have repented from their evil way, further demonstrate the redeeming power of God.
They are now residents of The Synagogue where Prophet Joshua ministers daily to their physical, financial, mental and spiritual needs, trying to remould and mend their bent and jaded lives. Indeed, there are several other confessed armed robbers in the church who are being ministered to, reformed and returned to normal life by the renowned prophet.
The robbers’ rehabilitation programme is an outreach of an NGO recently formed by Joshua to bring career criminals to the saving knowledge of God. The repented trio left The Spectator mouth agape as they recounted their blood-curdling exploits in the crime world, eliciting tears, shock and sorrow, then remorse.
Isaiah is a 33-year-old son of a retired soldier. He hails from Adamawa State, but grew up in Jos, Plateau State, where he first mixed up with bad company. His journey into crime blossomed in Delta State where he became a robbery kingpin.
What were you doing before you got involved in armed robbery?
I was a secondary school student then as far back as 2000. It all started from keeping bad friends; we would go out, drink alcohol and smoke Indian hemp. I didn’t care. We stole money, and we spent it lavishly. We started like a small cult. We used to meet in one small cave. After my secondary school, I organized my own goal.
Tell me about your first operation, how did you organize it?
We have the presido, who was the leader of the gang. I double-crossed him because I was older than him and even stronger than him. Then, I carved out my own gang, my own boys from within that group. Out of the 17 boys in the original gang, 15 followed me because I assured them that in any operation we successfully carry out, the loot would be shared equally among us. The presido, on the other hand, cheated them.
You still have not told me about your first operation, how you organised it, where and how you executed it.
Well, I can’t the exact date but I can say that the day was terrible and bloody. It was a highway robbery in Jos. Anyone that God delivered into my hand…
Did you say anyone God delivers to you?
Oh yes, because we normally prayed before taking to the road.
You normally prayed? In whose name?
In the name of God.
I don’t know. But we usually prayed before we go out, and if mother luck shines on us and business booms, sometimes, we could earn over one or two million in one outing. I had no fear for the police at all.
Why were you not afraid of the police?
Because my weapons were better than the police’s.
Did you also have juju?
That is a must. Every strong armed robber must have something to protect him. Before I got that power, I slept in a grave for seven good days.
So, how did you get that power?
They told me if I sleep for seven days, I should not shout or be afraid if I see anything. That I should not run because things will come.
What were the things that came to you at the cemetery?
Sometime, things did come in the form of animals to frighten me.
So, once you pass through that stage, nothing frightened you again?
Nothing. Not even guns. And if police were on the way, my instinct would tell me. If the sign was ominous, I informed my boys to lie low and refrain from any operation. The day that my boys were killed, I warned them beforehand but they insisted on going because they were broke. That day, we exchanged shots with the police.
When was this?
That was in 2003. That day was bloody.
How many of your boys were killed in the exchange?
Three of them.
How did you survive it?
Not one bullet hit me because of the charms I had on me.
Apart from Indian hemp, were you also taking cocaine, crack and other hard drugs?
Every hard man must always take those stuffs. If you don’t take those things, you will have some modicum of human feelings in you and it would hamper your performance. But if you take those drugs, you will see human being as mere flies.
At that point you can even kill?
You finish anything that comes your way.
Even your mother?
Of course. If I don’t kill her, someone will kill her, because she will go and ‘bust my runs’. In a car, anybody you first see that knows you or you know that person, it’s the person you kill first, because it is that person that will go and spread the news about you if you spare him or her.
Did you then give up armed robbery?
I never gave up armed robbery. After my boys were killed, I relocated to my town and I organized another group again. I moved to Delta State in 2005 with 13 boys. I lived in Effurun.
Why did you choose Effurun and not Warri?
Because that place is a very good hideout. If you commit any crime, and you run to mechanic village and hide, nobody would wise up to you. Ah, I terrorized that place o, and nobody knew it was me. They caught some innocent boys instead.
So, what was your turning point?
I met a friend that never knew I was an armed robber. All the time, I took him to clubs, he would be asking me: “you are not free with people.” And I would tell him: “I am not used to people; I don’t like people.” In fact, I didn’t use to go out in the daytime. I only went out at night, and before I go out, my boys must carry a surveillance of the area for me; because I was suspicious of everybody, every time, even my boys. I didn’t trust them. But this friend of mine, when we were in his house, we watched Emmanuel TV (the satellite TV of The Synagogue,Church Of All Naitons). I asked him to switch off the TV. He insisted that he liked the programme because he always saw miracles happen there everyday.
Was he an armed robber too?
No, he wasn’t and he didn’t know I was an armed robber. The TV caught my attention. Sometimes we saw some miracles that shocked us. Then, it became a habit for me to come to his place to watch the TV. One day, I said: “I have never been to Lagos, how can I meet this man?” It all seemed like a joke. He told me he knew Lagos. He brought me to Lagos and dropped me at Isheri, Idimu. I told him to go back from there, that I can find my way.
Being your first time in Lagos, how did you find your way?
When I arrived in Lagos, I asked for Synagogue, Church Of All Nations. One Yoruba guy gave me directions. I came to the church that morning but they did not allow me to enter.
Because I wanted to follow the other gate, I thought it was like the normal church in Warri where you can enter at will. I was asked to join the queue. Discouraged by the long queue, I went out to smoke cigarettes and to drink water. I came back and joined the queue and entered the church. They took us to sit in the visitors’ part of the church. As the man of God was preaching, he said, “There is an armed robber there” he pointed at where I was. I refused to stand up. Then, he said, “if you like come out, if you like don’t come out, anything that follows you are the one that will cry”. After the first service closed, I went to drink Chelsea dry gin, and smoked some cigarettes. I went home but I could not sleep. I could not do anything.
I lodged at Bakem Hotel. I couldn’t sleep; it was as if I was going insane. I suffered that through Monday but on Tuesday I ran back to the church and explained to one of the sisters. She asked me to come back on Thursday. On Thursday, when I came back, I was given one small paper, on it was written the instruction: Please, come back on Sunday by 6am. I came by 9am. When I showed the small paper, they took me inside and gave me a seat. Luckily, that day, the man of God was preaching. When he called armed robbers, my seat suddenly became as hot as a burning charcoal. It was as if it was on fire. I sweated profusely. I stood up, but a voice told me to sit down. But the seat was becoming too hot for me. Then, I rose and walked towards the man of God. I couldn’t see him. I only saw light, but I heard his voice talking to me. Then, I didn’t hear anything again until I saw myself on the ground when my eyes opened and I beheld the crowd. He asked me to stand. Today, he gave me N200,000 and four bags of rice and a brand new Bible. Since I was born, nobody has given me a Bible as a gift. The gift of the Bible is enough for me.
When was your last operation in Warri?
Early this month (November, 2009). It was a highway robbery. We mounted a blockade on the road and we snatched a car, in the process we collected money, mobile phones and other valuables.
Did you kill in that last operation?
I didn’t kill anybody.
In your entire career as an armed robber, how many people did you kill?
If you appear before God and God asks you how did you feel when you were killing…
(cuts in) the important thing is that I have received my healing. Sometimes, I just sit, and cry over my past sins and pray that God have mercy on me.
This N200,000 that the man of God has given, what are you going to do with it?
God will direct me, but I have a vocational skill; I am a cobbler.
You are used to getting millions, now somebody is giving you N200,000. Are you sure that will take you off the crime that has made you a ‘millionaire’?
No temptation will draw me back to crime.
How prepared are you now in your current state to tackle the temptation that will come?
God will handle that.
When are you leaving the Synagogue?
I don’t want to leave Synagogue. Synagogue gave me life again. I don’t even think of leaving.
You went on an international channel to tell the whole world that you were an armed robber, are you not afraid of being arrested?
What if the police come to arrest you?
I am prepared to face the consequence of my sins.
Prince from Kaduna State is one of the nine children of an ECWA pastor. The 28-year-old stopped his education in JSS 2 in 1998, because of the lure of bad life. His family was none the wiser. His work in a bakery was his alibi for working late and sleeping outside. The boy with a musical talent transformed into a daring robber.
How did you get involved?
I got involved through a friend. We started by stealing people’s goats and fowls. Then, we entered into their houses and steal their things, jewelleries, even their money and other things that we can sell to get money. People will be seeing me spending money and they thought it was the earning from my bakery job.
Why, eventually, did you have to leave school?
I dropped out of school because of the bad behaviours. There was a friend that we went and killed a goat. I was reported to the school authority. The principal flogged me and then told me he would call an emergency assembly the next day. And I was to bring my friend to confess our heinous crimes, right from that day, I stopped going to school. In spite of my bad ways of life, God still blessed me with the talent of songs. I mean gospel songs. I went to my father who was a minister of God and told him of my ambition to record gospel songs in a studio. He supported me with N30,000 to start the recording, but two weeks later he died.
When you were being wayward, what was the reaction of your elder ones?
All of them were angry, even up till date, they are still angry, particularly because I dropped out of school. I was the black sheep of the family, so they all stayed away form me. After my father died, the first thing on my mind was to go into gospel music. Then I started going to church and I started making my talent known. I contacted some big men in my church to help me, nobody listened to me. In fact, one specifically told me he was not a fool for any gold digger. That was it! That was what provoked me. The evil spirit came into me at that moment.
Didn’t your pastor counsel you?
The first pastor I appealed to tell me the church couldn’t sponsor my album. But instead they could help me with posers after my production, and then I should go ahead with the launching. Where would I get the money for the launch? That was what annoyed me. I decidedly took to bad life in Jos. That period, the Jos riot was going on in 2001. I used that very opportunity to get to Jos. Devil connected with a friend that was already a daredevil armed robber, an Ibo boy, called Uchenna. He was killed at Apata. After his death, I took the 10 guns he had and I disappeared. Before his death, he had linked me with some native doctors who gave me strong juju. After his death, I organized my gang in Jos. And we went on a robbery spree all over the North. In the first year of operation, five of my gang members were killed; I still had five other boys. One of the boys father had a station wagon. We went to rob him. That was one thing I will never forget in my life. I used knife to mutilate his body all over and we took his car key, drove his car to Apo Village in Abuja, where we changed every part of it and we started using it.
However, 24 of my gang members were killed in one single night. What saved me was that I had a native doctor in Zaria, who gave me charms to make me disappear in case of danger. He told me I should not allow any other person but myself to drive the car, and I should not allow any woman in the car. Keeping to that instruction, nothing bad could befall me, he assured me. But one night, we were travelling, then, suddenly, there were torchlight around us. Before we knew it, the police had opened fire. I disappeared and appeared in an unknown forest where I trekked from midnight till 3pm the following day. I heard a voice that warned me that if I go into crime again, I would die. When I got into town, I called one of my father’s friends, and confessed to him. He told me God had solution to my problem.
When I met him, he showed me a programme on Emmanuel TV and I saw armed robbers that were delivered. He asked me to find transportation fare I went and sold some of my things to raise the money for the fare. When I came, he told me they have shifted the date for counselling from October to November 27. He told me it is through healing service that I can see the man of God. I decided that I will not wait till that date but I will go and fellowship there. He was concerned that I could become a destitute in Lagos since I don’t have anybody there. Then, I remember a friend of mine from my school days who joined the army and is now in Ikeja. I called and informed him. I arrived on Saturday and located the church on Sunday. When I sat down listening to the man of God preaching, I heard him say that “if you know that you are an armed robber…” I was covered with sweat. The power of God led me out and the man of God delivered me.
How much was the first big money you made?
Any operation that we went for, we got a minimum, per head, of over one million naira. Sometimes I spent up to nine months enjoying the loot, living the bad life.
Justin Oliseh, a juvenile 18-year-old is a football prodigy, who in 2003/4 played in the junior team of Gabros. The Anambra indigene had been plagued from childhood by an uncanny kleptic instinct, which drove him to steal from his classmates and teachers. But in 2004, he abandoned his studies while in JSS 2 and became fully engaged in robbery.
How were you initiated into armed robbery?
This armed robbery of a thing is like a generational curse in my family. My father was killed in an armed robbery operation. My father begat five children – four boys and one girl, but I am the only one that is an armed robber.
How do you mean when you say it is a generational curse?
My uncle was also killed in an armed robbery operation.
Why do you decide to follow in their (your father and uncle’s)footsteps?
The spirit that was in them entered inside me.
How do you mean? You that had been stealing while they were still alive?
They were not alive then. I witnessed their death.
How were they killed?
My father was executed publicly in Anambra State and my mother took me to witness his execution.
Why did she do that?
Because when my father was alive, I was his favourite son, he took me everywhere he went. In Iboland, there is a saying that, ‘obeka nnayan’ meaning, like father like son.
Was your mother not ashamed at going to the public execution?
I can’t remember. I was too young then.
The moment he was shot what happened to you?
The moment he was shot, my spirit hardened. I felt something come over me. I suddenly had the strength to do things I was afraid of doing before. From that moment, I can look my mother in the face.
What was the first gang you joined like?
We were five in number. But I refused to carry gun and refused to shed blood. If I carry gun, it will be empty of bullets.
What was your first operation like and where?
It was in Anambra stae, a house operation.
When did you stop robbery?
This month of November (2009).
When was your last robbery?
Last month (October) here in Lagos. My friend and I snatched mobile phones from people in the bus. My friend brought out a penknife and we collected all the passengers’ mobile phones.
How many mobile phones did you collect?
The ones that were with me before I sold them were 12.
How did you make the decision to come to this church?
In my house, I used to watch Emmanuel TV and I used to see many robbers that were delivered and I asked myself how could I be delivered? One of my friends advised me to go to the church. The first day I heard the man of God preach, he said, “There is a robber in this church.” I didn’t know whether he was talking to me or not. The second Sunday I came, he again said armed robbers
should step forward and give their life to God. I took the steps and I was delivered. I have been here for three weeks now.
Throughout the period that you operated, why did you refuse to kill?
I don’t want to shed any innocent blood.
Are you not afraid that the police will come after you?
I am not afraid. Even if police should arrest me now, I have given my life to Christ.
The man of God gave you N150,000, four bags of rice and a Bible, what are you going to do with that?
I will go back to school and study mechanical engineering.
SOURCE: The Spectator – Vol.2 No. 83 Dec 10, 2009