By SUSAN STELLIN
IN a new twist on a fraudulent money-transferring scheme, a growing number of people who sell goods online are falling victim to con artists who locate their victims through mass e-mailings.
So far, at least seven state attorneys general have warned about the new ruse, in which the perpetrators, often from Nigeria, use the counterfeit checks to purchase items for sale online, typically overpaying for the goods and asking for the difference to be sent back before the victim or the bank realizes that the check is fake.
It is a new version of an old scheme known as advance fee or 419 fraud, a reference to the Nigerian statute that makes this type of activity illegal. While 419 fraud has often been perpetrated over the phone or by fax, mass e-mail has in recent years been a preferred method for finding victims.
It is impossible to say how many people have lost money through this type of fraud. But one victim, Shawn Mosch of Bloomington, Minn., who with her husband started an advocacy group called Scam Victims United (scamvictimsunited.com), estimated that she had heard about more than 500 cases since November. In March, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation warned banks about the use of counterfeit official checks to defraud online sellers.
Mrs. Mosch said that she and her husband, Jeff, had advertised a 1961 Buick for sale at several Web sites and were contacted in October by a man purporting to be a car dealer in Africa, Adebisi Julius. After agreeing on a price of $1,600, the buyer told the Mosches that a friend in the United States owed him $8,800 and that this friend would send them a cashier's check for that amount. They agreed to refund the difference to the buyer once the check cleared.
Although Mrs. Mosch said she was aware of other forms of Nigerian fraud and thought the terms of the transaction sounded suspicious, she deposited the check - seemingly issued by a Bank of America branch - and asked the teller when she would know it was good. "He said, 'Twenty-four hours ma'am, no problem,' " Mrs. Mosch recalled. She said she then waited 48 hours "to be extra safe" before withdrawing $7,200 and wiring it to an address in Lagos, Nigeria.
"When he said Nigeria, yes, red flags went up," Mrs. Mosch said, describing a phone conversation with the man who deceived her. "But then we looked at the cash in our hands and said, well we have the cash, they said the check had cleared."
But the check had not cleared: the Mosches got a call about a week later from their bank informing them the cashier's check turned out to be counterfeit and that the bank was deducting $8,800 from their savings account. (The Mosches still have the Buick, in which the fraudulent buyer was evidently not interested despite having promised to arrange shipment.)
Mrs. Mosch said she and her husband disputed their liability for the money deducted from their account, ultimately reaching an out-of-court settlement with the bank. The terms of the settlement prevent her from naming the amount or the bank, she said.
"The best way to stop the scam right now is to educate people about it," she said. Although a big part of that effort is alerting Internet sellers to be wary of buyers who overpay for an item and ask for the difference to be wired back - or those who, after sending a check, back out of the deal and ask for a refund - another goal is to dispel some misconceptions about cashier's checks.
"The tellers are looking at that check as if it were a legitimate cashier's check and not even considering that it might be fraudulent," Mrs. Mosch said. She argues that consumers and bank employees need to be educated about the difference between when funds from a cashier's check are available and when the check actually clears.
By law, banks are required to make funds available the next business day if an individual deposits a cashier's check into their own account, in person, dealing with an employee of the bank; if the bank later finds out the check is counterfeit, it can deduct the money from the depositer's account.
So the burden is largely on Internet sellers to make sure that any check they accept is legitimate before spending the money or sending any merchandise. Donna Gambrell, deputy director of the F.D.I.C.'s division of supervision and consumer protection, said, "One of the reasons why these scams can be so successful is because crooks know consumers trust these cashier's checks and money orders."
The F.D.I.C. advises Internet sellers to confirm a buyer's name, address and home phone number independently and insist that the check be drawn on a local bank or a bank that has a local branch. If that is not feasible, Ms. Gambrell said, the depositor should ask the bank if it will inquire about the check or directly contact the issuing bank to confirm that it is valid.
Beyond these measures, Ms. Gambrell said, "Don't wire money or hand over any merchandise until you deposit the check and your bank confirms that it was paid - even if that takes days or even weeks."
At least seven states - Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, New Mexico and Pennsylvania - have issued warnings to residents about the scheme. In April, the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, which refers victims to law enforcement agencies, noted the emergence of this variation on 419 fraud in its annual report, saying that based on the reports it received last year - a fraction of actual losses - 74 individuals lost $1.6 million to some form of 419 scam.
Although automobile sellers seem to have been the initial targets of the counterfeit check variation, there have been reports of attempts to defraud people who are selling boats, furniture, horses, dogs and cats. Trading sites like americandreamcars.com, puppydogweb.com and equine.com have warned users about the scheme.
Mrs. Mosch said she had heard that people selling items on eBay had been targets of such ruses. Kevin Pursglove, an eBay spokesman, said he had not heard much about the trend and that eBay had not issued an advisory on that type of scheme.
=============++++++RETURN TO HOME PAGE++++=============
Daily Independent Online. * Thursday, May 15, 2003.
Robbers on rampage in Asaba
· Two killed; perm sec, 14 others shot
By Tunke-Aye Bisina, Daily Independent, Asaba
Armed robbers yesterday carried out day-light operations in Asaba and Igbuzor in Delta State, killing two persons, while 15 others, including a federal permanent secretary and a police officer, received gun shot injuries. But police authorities in Asaba have remained silent on the number of casualties.
Confirming the incident to Daily Independent, Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of operations in the state police command, Mr. John Mshelia said that the bandits also shattered two police vehicles when his men engaged them in a shoot-out.
The robbers, who caused pandemonium in the city, also robbed the Asaba branch of the First Bank Plc at Nnebisi Road and went away with unspecified sums of money.
A gang of bandits had invaded the city on Sunday night shooting about three persons.
Yesterday's operations defied security as the robbers, who carried out their operations from one end of the city to the other, held Asaba under siege for over one hour.
The robbers numbering about eight, who started their operations about 11.00am, were said to have driven from Onitsha direction through Jerret Road to the popular Mammy Market, Federal College of Education Road Junction opposite NITEL Territorial office, driving through the Nnebisi Road and through Director Labour Agency (DLA) road.
Eyewitness told Daily Independent that when the robbers got to the Mammy Market in a Golf Volkswagen car, they accosted a Delta State Ministry of Education Peugeot Station Wagon 504 car and asked the driver to hand over the key to them.
The driver, a young man, was said to have refused, prompting them to shoot him before snatching the car. He died on the spot. They were also said to have chased another Federal Government vehicle to the NITEL office area before shattering it with bullets.
A lady believed to be a federal permanent secretary, who sat at the back of the vehicle, sustained gunshot injuries while the driver escaped unhurt. She is said to be on danger list.
Daily Independent saw the car at NITEL office with the back and one of the side glasses shattered by bullet. The vehicle was marked FG06D07. The robbers later drove to the First Bank and held both customers and officials hostage, shooting indiscriminately while they operated for over 30 minutes.
A young man on a motorbike around the bank premises was shot to death in the process while several others also received gunshot injuries. Daily Independent saw about 15 exhausted ammunition inside the premises of the bank.
===================+++++RETURN TO HOME PAGE++++++======================
NIGERIAWORLD.COM News Headline Posted Thursday, May 15, 2003
By [ New York, NY, USA ]
Nigerians in US demand prosecution as Halliburton defends self in $2.5m tax evasion
Halliburton, the American oil service company, formerly presided over by the sitting US Vice President Dick Cheney, is defending itself in the $2.5M tax evasion scheme against Nigeria by its subsidiary, KBR. The apparent tax evasion blew open last week in media reports that quoted the company's mandatory regulatory filings.
However, Nigerian lawyers, and professionals in New York 's famous financial district, the Wall Street are demanding that the company be made to face legal action as would have been the case if the company had been involved in the same incident here in the US.
In a statement released in answer to the inquiries of The Guardian, Halliburton's Public Relations Manager in Houston suggested on Wednesday that the real issue in the whole matter is that Halliburton's internal system works and that the company acted in good faith by immediately launching a probe once the impropriety was discovered.
According to the company spokesperson Wendy Hall "over a year ago, we self-reported this issue to the SEC and it has been in each of our publicly filed financial statements since then."
Hall noted that "while this is an unfortunate situation, the real story here is that our system works." She stated that the issue was uncovered by "our existing processes, it was immediately reported to the SEC, we immediately investigated the issue, and all the necessary actions were taken when the facts were uncovered, including the termination of those involved."
The Public Relations Manager continued: " Of course we all wish these things didn't occur, but with over 92,000 employees worldwide we know they occasionally do. We can all take comfort however, that on those rare occasions where our employees act improperly, we discover it, we get to the bottom of it, we hold people accountable for their actions, and we do the right thing by our shareholders, our customers, and our host governments around the world."
The Guardian asked particularly whether the company already informed the Nigerian government about the development and whether it would cooperate with Nigerian authorities on an investigation, but the response was not very direct.
All Wendy Hall had to say on that was this: "When Halliburton discovered the improper payments through a routine audit, it launched an investigation assisted by outside legal counsel and notified the SEC. Because the SEC investigation is not complete, we believe it is inappropriate to provide any further details at this time."
But the President of the New York- based Nigerian Lawyers Association, NLA, Mr. Shamsey Oloko said "it is quite ironic that a major company from the US has disclosed its complicity in the aiding and abetting of bribery in Nigeria." Oloko, who himself is a leading US taxation lawyer added that although Halliburton acknowledges the illegality of its conduct, yet there would be a need according to him for a criminal prosecution.
"It remains to be seen whether the principal actors will be properly subject to criminal prosecution," he says, stressing that the payment of bribes totaling $2.4 million in Nigeria "is a particularly egregious and unlawful behavior, under both Nigerian and US laws."
Oloko called on the US authorities to bring those involved to justice. " All involved thereof must be appropriately charged and brought to justice, as would have been the case if the misconduct took place in Halliburton's home country, the US."
A Washington DC attorney, who is also a Nigerian, Mr. Emmanuel Ogebe expressed worry that "this report is not very encouraging for the fight against corruption in Nigeria if a company linked so closely to a highly placed US official such as the VP did not have the good sense to avoid such a scandal."
Another Nigerian, who is a financial professional in New York, preferred anonymity being a representative of New York Stock Exchange, NYSE/NASD member firm. He said: "Normally publicly quoted companies must file all sort of documents to the regulatory agency such as SEC. Documents regarding their financial as well as stock transactions by "insiders" - major shareholders or subsidiaries as a matter of public record. " Observers say that punctured the impression of self-confession of Halliburton that it self-reported because the company had no choice.
He added that the filings "must reveal all pertinent information and according to recent laws the CEO's must attest to the truthfulness and authenticity of such information."
A Nigerian Stock broker in Wall Street, Mr. Tunde Aboyade-Cole however observed that "we should be grateful that this was found out because of the vigilance of the auditors and/or the relevant regulatory bodies. Cole argued that Halliburton would not have voluntarily confessed if the US company regulatory system or disclosure requirements had not compelled it to do so.
But he also noted that such practices are widespread in Nigeria "and it involves most of the foreign companies operating there. In fact, construction/engineering companies are notorious for bribery; contract inflation and serving as conduit for getting looted funds into safe haven like Switzerland. "
Aboyade-Cole hoped the Nigerian embassy will liase with the relevant investigating body to get the facts "so that we can conduct our own investigation and mete out our own punishment to our national that colluded with them."
He said the oil company would have to pay the outstanding taxes, which by its own reckoning may range about $5M.
© 2003 nigeriaworld.com
===================+++++RETURN TO HOME PAGE++++++======================
DAILY TRUST Thursday, May 15, 2003
Private varsities now to establish N100m trust fund
- By Ikenna Emeka Okpani
The National Universities Commission (NUC) has come out with new guidelines for the establishment of private universities and under the new arrangement private university providers are to establish a trust fund in their institution with a minimum of N100 million.
The suggestion which was endorsed by the management of the commission, according to the Executive Secretary, Prof. Peter Okebukola, is meant to serve as a cushion during periods of financial strain for such a university.
According to him, such trust fund will be managed by a Board of Trustees on which the National Universities Commission would be represented and would be expected to meet at least twice a year.
The NUC management also reviewed the minimum land requirement for private universities. The new minimum land requirement is now 50 hectares. The recommendation will later be presented to the board of the commission for approval.
Private universities and other stakeholders have been clamouring for some adjustments in the guidelines for the establishment of private universities, especially the land requirement.
Meanwhile, three more universities have given the indication that they would back out of the ASUU strike and resume lectures next week while the Senate of five others will be meeting this week to conclude the calendar for reopening.
According to Prof. Okebukola, the vice-chancellors of University of Abuja; Obafemi Awolowo University and Federal University of Technology, Akure have formally written to NUC conveying the decision to re-open their universities this week.
The Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka; Federal University of Technology, Owerri and University of Lagos re-opened last week.
Daily Trust gathered that the government verification team that was out two weeks ago to confirm that lectures had started at Awka, Owerri, and Lagos have submitted a favourable report.
With the indication given by some universities to re-open next week, more universities will be opting out of the protracted ASUU strike.
The federal government last week declared a trade dispute with ASUU. The Minister of Education filed three applications to the Minister of Labour declaring trade dispute between the federal government and all three striking university staff unions- ASUU, NASU and SSANU separately.
In a letter copied to NUC, the minister directed the commission to follow-up the arbitration court process.
The action, he said, was based on legal advice received that, "in order not to create a confused lacuna for my successor on this matter in view of the impending expiration of the tenure of this administration, the matter should be referred to the Industrial Arbitration Court in the hope that all concerned will be willing to obey the rule of law which is the hallmark of democratic culture.
However, the ASUU President, Dr. Dipo Fashina, has blamed the government for the breakdown in the negotiation, claiming that it has continually misinformed the public on the position of ASUU.
=========++++RETURN TO HOME PAGE+++++============
ThisDay News Dateline: 11/05/2003 12:17:17
World Airways Now in Nigeria By Justina Okpanku
doubt, the public holiday declared by the Federal Government on May 1, Workers
Day, offered Nigerians the chance to rest. But the travel industry operators
were at the Golden Gate Restaurant, Lagos to celebrate the coming of World
At the World Airways/Ritetime/Travel Agents Forum , a gathering of big wigs in the private sector travel industry as they turned out flamboyantly dressed and waited patiently for what Mr. Yomi Jones, former Managing Director, Nigeria Airways described as good news because its a "major strategic operation tailored to meet the needs of travellers."
The good news is, World Airways and Ritetime Aviation of Nigeria will soon commence flight operations from Lagos to the United States of America. The two organisations will begin its weekly flights on May 28, 2003 from Lagos to New York, Atlanta and Houston using the latest model MD- 11 wide-body.
On offer are lower fares, for New York US$850; Atlanta, US$ 1100 and Houston US$1249 return.
Chief Executive of Ritetime/World Airways, Dr. Peter Obafemi said: "This is a product that will compete with any airline anywhere in the world and it will make customers happy because what other airlines would not do for you, we will do for you. We are giving in our Economy Class what other airlines give customers in their First Class".
"The weekly operation in Nigeria reduces a lot of pressure and stress," says Yomi Jones who is Ritetime/World Airways Marketing Consultant.
"As an international traveller, there is no need for transit visa, once you have a valid visa. It will save a lot of problems, especially for the business traveller".
World Airways was formed on March 28, 1948, by Benjamin Pepper with a fleet of three Boeing 314 Clippers.
World Airways introduced its first MD-11 in March 1993. Today, World operates 15 wide-body aircraft, eight MD-11's and seven DC 10-30's.
The list of airlines that World was said to have operated wet-leases for includes: Cathay Pacific, Virgin Atlantic , Air France, British Airways, Malaysian and Philippine Airlines.
Ritetime/World Airways Office in Nigeria is situated at City Express Bank Building at Adetokumbo Ademola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos and it maintains websites: www.flyritetime.com/promotions.
Meanwhile, five travel agents emerged winners of the raffle draw organised by Ritetime/World Airways during the forum.
The Managing Director of Emmanuella Travels, Mrs. Modupe Lawale said: " I pray that World Airways will be successful as all those who came and conquered."
==================+++++RETURN TO HOME PAGE+++++=================
GUARDIAN [CONSCIENCE, NURTURED BY TRUTH]
LAGOS. NIGERIA. Tuesday, May 12, 2003
Soyinka, Christianity and the Pyrates By Muyiwa Awe
THE National Association of Seadogs, also known as Pyrates' Confraternity, recently celebrated what it tagged 50 years afloat 1952/53 - 2002/03. One of the activities to mark the event was a public lecture with the title: Cults, Counter-Culture and the Perils of Ignorance, which was delivered on December 13, 2002, by my friend Professor Wole Soyinka with whom I, and five other young men founded the Pyrates' Confraternity in the 1953/54 session at the then University College, now University of Ibadan, after we moved from the old, temporary site of the College at Eleiyele to the present permanent site. It appears the fifty years of the existence of Pyrates' Confraternity was celebrated prematurely, but that is a small matter.
I was invited to the lecture but I declined, given my current position as President of Fullness of Christ Evangelical Ministry (FOCEM), and Chairman of the University of Ibadan's Anti-Cultism Campaign Committee. I have only just had access to the text of Professor Soyinka's lecture and it makes interesting reading. What interests me particularly in Professor Soyinka's lecture were references to me and what he understands as my position in respect of the original Pyrates' Confraternity and the organizations we now call Campus Cults. Although he was building up his arguments in the earlier pages of his 18-page lecture, his direct reference to me and my Ministry (FOCEM) started from page 9 and continued for most of the rest of the lecture. After a careful reading of the text, my conclusion is that many of Professor Soyinka's statements illustrate very beautifully the last part of the title of his lecture namely: The Perils of Ignorance.
Since January 1946 when we grew up as classmates and friends in our old secondary school, to the founding of Pyrates' Confraternity at UCI, much water has passed under the bridge, and we have gone our separate ways spiritually and otherwise in the recent past. So I was amused when I read his statement that "the comments of our erstwhile colleague and personal friend, Professor Muyiwa Awe, stems (sic) from a deep spiritual questioning. All spiritual journeys deserve our greatest respect and support, and we can only pray that Professor Muyiwa Awe finds the peace of mind and sense of salvation that he so deeply craves." As a Christian, I have already found peace of mind in Christ and I have the assurance of salvation, so I do not have to crave for them.
Professor Soyinka wonders as to what constitutes a "cult" whether on campus or outside campus, or even outside the nation's boundaries where several chapters of the Pyrates Confraternity have been established world-wide. However, what constitutes a cult has already been discussed in FOCEM Newsletter Vol. 1. No.2, which was published by our Ministry in July 2002. In addition, in November 2002, we published the evangelical tract: All Manner of Cults. Also, many authors have already written books on the subject of cults both from Christian and non-Christian points of view, and so what constitutes a cult is already well-known or available to those who care to find out.
I relate well to many members of the National Association of Seadogs (NAS) which is an association registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). However, NAS also insists on calling itself Pyrates' Confraternity, a name not registered with CAC, and a name which it shares with virulent Campus Cults of the sort many of us are determined to eradicate for the well-being of society and the salvation of the souls of the cultists themselves. The Pyrates' Confraternity which still exists on our campuses as secret societies are as much cults as the Black Axe, Buccaneers Confraternity, Mafia, Lucifer Knights, and their female counterparts like Black Pants, Fine Girls, Amazons, Daughters of Jezebel, etc. When the National Association of Seadogs was being inaugurated, the plan was that NAS would ensure that Pyrates' Confraternity did not exist on campuses. This has turned out to be mere wishful thinking as the Association was not able to impose its will on the students on campuses.
The truth of the matter is in accordance with the word of God, the Holy Bible, which says: Thou shalt decree a thing and it shall be established unto thee. Anybody can make a decree even as Professor Soyinka's Association has done, but the power to establish the decree is what is important, and the Association obviously lacks this power. Is Professor Soyinka really claiming that the Pyrates' Confraternity does not exist as a secret society on campuses? If so, the perils of such ignorance are what he and his Association ought to confront. These secret societies have shown that NAS has no proprietary rights over that name. This is the answer to Professor Soyinka's dilemma about a society which, despite obtaining a judgement in the law courts that unambiguously declares that this fifty-year-old organization is not a secret society, continues to perpetuate a gross libel. NAS has threatened libel action in the past, but the Association ought to know that such action cannot succeed as tertiary level institutions can easily provide evidence that Pyrates' Confraternity exists on their campuses.
The Holy Bible talks of those who are willingly ignorant. If Professor Soyinka and his Association decide to be willingly ignorant, they cannot force honest men and women to ignore facts staring them in the face. Did Professor Soyinka read what his colleague in the NAS, Ben Oguntuase, said sometime in August 1999, after the killings associated with cultists at Obafemi Awolowo University on July 10, 1999? Oguntuase's response to a question posed to him in a newspaper interview was: "I feel good being a member of Pyrate but I feel sad that the group we gave birth to have (sic) been hijacked. I wish the students understand the meaning of confraternity." The same Ben Oguntuase talked about "the fraternities you have today hijacked and turned to instruments of terror and brigandage" in his Open Letter to Nigerian Students on Campus Banditry, dated 13 July, 1999, which is available from NAS News Archive on NAS' Website.
We are all living witnesses to what has happened in the universities after the group to which the Pyrates gave birth was hijacked, and this is what we have tried to draw the attention of all well-meaning Nigerians to. If Professor Soyinka insists that there is absolutely no connection between what we founded almost fifty years ago and the present Campus Cults, he is welcome to his opinion. But if we agree with Ben Oguntuase that the group has been hijacked, the question may be asked: who hijacked it? Many of us have come to the conclusion that the hijacker is no one else but Satan, the god of this world. The reason we say this is that many of the well-known activities of Campus Cults are clearly satanic and evil. A tree is known by its fruit, and out of an evil heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness and blasphemies which are the earmarks of these cults. As Mr. Oguntuase has so perceptively indicated in his Open Letter, cultists are under the control of demons, and they need to be set free.
To be continued
Awe, Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of Ibadan is President, Fullness of Christ Evangelical Ministry.
================++++++RETURN TO HOME PAGE+++++===============
Sealed with Love & Prayer - Patrick Nsionu - New York, 2004+.
================+++++RETURN TO HOME PAGE++++++================
GUARDIAN [CONSCIENCE, NURTURED BY TRUTH]
LAGOS. NIGERIA. Tuesday, May 13, 2003
Soyinka, Christianity and the Pyrates (2) By Muyiwa Awe
Continued from yesterday
PROFESSOR Soyinka uses strong, vituperative words and phrases such as "intellectual dishonesty", "twisted reasoning", "morally deficient attempts", "providing the present society with a cheap alibi", "common sense and logic being turned on their heads" etc. This is vintage Soyinka for objects of his dislike. I can live with strong words when they are deployed in defence of a cast-iron case. If not, it is terrorism in language form. Just one example. On page 11 of the text of his lecture, he states as follows concerning what I was reported to have said in the January 2, 2002 issue of THISDAY: "By the time that we come to the end of this article, we are firmly persuaded that Professor Awe has the P.C. under reference when he says or is alleged to have said their names are kept secret, and those initiated cannot withdraw upon pain of death! This is precisely how the grotesque lie is born, nourished and expanded. This is how society is programmed into a self-cosseting intellectual laziness, incapable of the rigours of enquiry, analysis and discrimination".
To use Soyinka's own words, is it not grotesque that he is so firmly persuaded by what he admits might be an allegation? By the grace of God, I am still alive and well and he or any of his colleagues in NAS could easily have reached me for my views or a copy of my speech if there was doubt that I might have been wrongly reported in the newspaper. THISDAY was reporting on my speech as Guest Speaker at the launching of the book: Help for Cultists written by Pastor Barnabas Otoibhi. This event took place at the University of Lagos on October 13, 2001. Fortunately, my speech was typed, and the statement which has caused Professor Soyinka so much irritation (as reported) goes as follows: "Whatever may have been the intentions of those who started the earliest organisations (usually named confraternities or fraternities) which have now metamorphosed into the present cults, there is no doubt that these cults are now essentially evil with no redeeming features whatever. The cults recruit new members by enticement, inducement and where these fail, by intimidation. They are societies in which membership is kept secret and those initiated cannot withdraw upon pain of death".
It is unfortunate that someone who is recommending investigative reporting to the newspaperman did not take the trouble of getting in touch with an old colleague and friend to ascertain what I was reported to have said, before making it the pillar of a public lecture. Perhaps the fact of the situation might have got in the way of his characteristic, trenchant prose. But as I have had occasion to tell him in the past, the fact that he holds strong views on a matter and expresses them repeatedly in strong language does not make those views right or true. It is clear from my statement quoted above that I made a distinction between the earliest associations and the cults that have metamorphosed from them. I do this in all my writing and speeches. I have discussed in many fora the reasons which have contributed to the menace of cultism in this nation and what is the way forward. I am glad to be associated with efforts being made at the University of Ibadan and elsewhere to curb and eradicate Campus Cultism. The efforts have already started to yield results, so I am not among those who "only wring (their) hands in helplessness". I thank God for how He is using men and women to confront this malignancy in our society. We know that victory is certain, in Jesus' name. Amen.
We must acknowledge the heroic struggles of those who confronted the Abacha dictatorship head-on. Among these are individuals and organizations such as those highlighted in Professor Soyinka's lecture. However, we must also acknowledge that in the end, Abacha was not removed because of the formidable opposition of human organizations which constituted serious irritants to the brutal dictator. He was not killed in a coup or swept out of power by a popular uprising. On the other hand, there were those who opposed Abacha on their knees. For the spiritually discerning, Abacha was neatly removed by God Himself, though this might be difficult for a humanist like Soyinka to grasp, comprehend or acknowledge. God, who has the power of life and death, took his life and Abacha expired with his dream of a life presidency over a terrorized populace.
I am not interested in being dragged into many of the issues Professor Soyinka raised about Christianity, Pentecostal Churches and pastors of various colours. However, Jesus had said: Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. The last religious views I heard expressed by my friend concern his belief in ecumenism of the human spirit and humanism. My faith as a Christian excludes these concepts which have no room for God. His sneering remarks about Christianity such as those contained in his lecture will also constitute stumbling blocks to fruitful discussion with someone who is so full of the wisdom of this world as he is. However, our God is a sovereign and merciful God who had said: I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. The Holy Spirit can still touch Professor Soyinka so that he will recognize and confess Jesus Christ as Lord. Our God is omnipotent, so nothing is impossible for Him. Besides this, Jesus died for him too and so, I will continue to pray that Christ's death on the cross will not be wasted on him. Amen.
Professor Soyinka states that he always thought that the Christian doctrine indeed preached the theology of charity. Beyond charity however lie justice, integrity and truthfulness. The implication of this statement is that he does not know that justice, integrity and truthfulness are Christian virtues which are loudly proclaimed on almost every page of the Holy Bible. These are the moral attributes of God which He desires to share with His people. Unfortunately, the Bible is a closed book to many who do not share the Christian faith. They are ignorant of its contents, and the perils arising from this ignorance have momentous consequences for now and for eternity.
In conclusion and for the avoidance of doubt, my position is that secret cults existing on many campuses and calling themselves Pyrates' Confraternity have brought disrepute to that name. The National Association of Seadogs ought to consider the wisdom of continuing to identify with that name on the basis of nostalgia for what happened about fifty years ago when seven, innocent undergraduates at the University College, Ibadan, started an idea from which a Frankenstein monster has now emerged. What this season demands from Professor Soyinka as the revered head of NAS is soul-searching, wise counsel and decision-making, not vituperation in elegant, English prose.
Awe, Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of Ibadan is President, Fullness of Christ Evangelical Ministry.