31 May 2013

Nigeria: Pickpockets, Leave Aregbesola Alone


The small crooks never learn. Barely two weeks after Kelvin Ighodalo, 31, bagged 45 years in jail for stealing Osun State governor Rauf Aregbesola's phone, seven other people allegedly stole a goat belonging to the state government. In no other state has pickpocketing been so pronounced! In other states, the tale is told of public servants and contractors carting away billions of naira. Ironically, they almost always escape conviction while the petty thieves in the State of Osun always get caught and sent to jail.

Were Osun not ruled by devout Muslims and Christians, it would have been proper to suspect that Sango, the Yoruba god of thunder, or Ogun, their god of iron, has a hand in all this. Or could somebody have approached the water goddess in the Osun Grooves to obtain the magical power used to track thieves? Thief Ighodalo had successfully pilfered the governor's phone while the latter was being sworn in at GTC, Osogbo, on November 27, 2010.

The pickpocket had used the phone to do 419: he called friends of the new governor to request assistance and got at least N700,000. Then, from nowhere came the long arms of the law. As for the alleged goat thieves - one woman and six men - they were said to have finished enjoying their goat pepper-soup and washed the delicacy down with a keg of palm wine when the intruder emerged from nowhere.

Pickpockets should stop distracting Ogbeni Aregbesola from the very challenging task of governing the "State of Living Spring". Judging by the fate of those who committed the sacrilege of misappropriating his goat and phone, future petty thieves must not hope to escape justice. Is anyone plotting to pick his soap dish from his bathroom? Or his prayer mat? Or his wife's jewelry? The eye of Sango is watching him or her. Even if any pickpocket escapes from the conventional law, he cannot escape from Sango and Ogun.

Possibly, other pickpockets have been ransacking the bedrooms and offices of other state chief executives in the country, but the victims have not been interested in pursuing the thieves like Governor Aregbesola. In our terrorized world, nowhere is unreachable to the deviants. They throw bombs in churches and mosques; so stealing in holy places is, to them, a minor crime. Even the most sacred place in the Vatican is said to have come under pickpockets' attack. Tourists visiting the chapel have lost valuables to light-fingered thieves. Some Catholic churches in Nigeria have occasionally lost the Blessed Sacrament on the altar!

To Ogbeni we say ride on; do not spare any thief. But we wish you would pursue big thieves with the same zeal. Use the same method in arresting pension thieves, ghost workers and contractors, those who receive kick-backs and "kick-fronts" and their like that often besiege government houses. May the gods be your guide.

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