On January 20, 2022, we promised to do more of what we had always done. FIJ had clocked one at the time and had published over 1800 “pulsating stories”. Today, we are two years old, and in the last 12 months, more than 2,400 stories have been added to our list.
We’re glad we kept the promise of doing more, we’re glad you are here to bear witness, and we’re glad to present to you, dear reader, 10 of the best stories of the last one year:
PROPHETS OF THEIR POCKETS
In January 2022, ‘Fisayo Soyombo, our founder and editor-in-chief, visited the international headquarters of the Celestial Church of Christ in Ikosi, Ketu, Lagos, pretending to be gay. He showed up at the church looking so much like a Nigerian hip-hop star that not one of the about 100 prophets he came across knew he was not what he claimed to be. What followed was a litany of fake prophecies and extortion.
“Jimata eee Maleka Olorun!” One Prophetess Dosunmu, the slim, dark-skinned woman to whom he was assigned, said before entering a trance-like state. “Listen, thou servant. Write down today’s date. I see you uplifted this year, says the Lord of Host. This is the scenario. It’s like somebody working towards something, you have been trying, you have been trying, you have been trying. God is telling you that this year, you are going to achieve it.
“I see you, ehn. Your hand was placed on something like this [gesticulation] and you grabbed it. You grabbed it! You grabbed it! But do you know what God is telling me to tell you? He says my ways are not your ways. You may prefer America but God might just feel like the UK is better for you. You will grab it, but not in your own way. Not in what you want but what God wants for you.
“Even he knows that he is not someone who will have wealth or succeed in this country (fake prophecy 1). He knows that very well, that his riches, wealth and fame are not in Nigeria but abroad. He knows! And he has been working towards it, he has been working towards it (fake prophecy 2). But God is telling me to tell you, my brother, that now is his time for success, says the Lord of Host. Success, says the Lord of Host. Success, says the Lord of Host!!!”
Soyombo had neither planned nor attempted to relocate abroad. “Not today, not last year, not 10 years ago. Not tomorrow,” he revealed in the article. And talking about success, dear reader, would you say someone with this profile is a failure?
Not only at the Celestial Church was Soyombo falsely prophesied to and extorted. He had a similar experience at the Oriwu Central Mosque, Ikorodu, Lagos; and at the Eternal Sacred Order of Cherubim and Seraphim on Pearse Street, Yaba, Lagos. He witnessed a painful healing process at Inyahu Sunna, an Islamic healing centre in Agege, Lagos. He went to a Lagos mosque where the Tasbih is consulted like an oracle.
He visited the campground of the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (MFM), where there was no cash demand or fake prohecies, and then he went to the Holy Cross Cathedral on Lagos Island, where he had a positive encounter with the Catholic Church’s Fr. Raymond Emedo.
His experiences were documented in a seven-part investigative series titled ‘Prophets of Their Pockets‘.
THE THING INSIDE YOUR BELLY
When ‘Damilola Ayeni, FIJ’s editor, travelled to eastern Nigeria in October to investigate ‘cryptic’ pregnancy, an underground fertility fraud scheme, he met Rose, who was looking for N3.6 million to birth the ‘cryptic’ twins she had been pregnant with for four years; ‘Mama Chidera’, who already had five kids from the process; and Juliet, who, as a teenager, worked at a baby factory supplying the ‘cryptic’ pregnancy industry. It was on the back of women like this that he rode into the dark industry run by bloodless humans.
Women desperate to have children run to fertility clinics for help and are loaded with drugs that induce pregnancy symptoms. For nine months or more, they carry what feels like pregnancy, and then they are made to go through labour (or what looks like it) so that when they wake up to arranged babies beside them, they truly believe they are theirs.
Medical tests revealed that what Rose had carried as pregnancy for four years was an empty belly pumped up with pregnancy hormones, and that her liver was now enlarged as a result; while DNA showed that Mama Chidera’s five children, including nine-year-old triplets, belong to different mothers and none is truly hers.
Damilola tracked some of these fake fertility clinics in three eastern states and caught some of their owners on camera. His experience and findings were documented in a 5,000-word story titled ‘The Thing Inside Your Belly: A Woman’s 4-Year Pregnancy Exposes a Crime Ring in Eastern Nigeria’.
PASTOR BILLS CHURCH MEMBERS N310,000 EACH TO TAKE THEM TO HEAVEN
In the first quarter of 2020, Ade Abraham, a pastor Royal Christ Assembly, returned to Kaduna, his former base, and told the members of his church that “the gate of heaven will open for all of them to fly to heaven” in Ekiti, and each of them had to pay N310,000 to benefit from the opportunity.
Some of the members agreed. It was while they were preparing “for the end of the world” in an Ekiti camp that FIJ’s Daniel Ojukwu learnt of the happening.
A member wrote to her daughter abroad, asking her to return home so they could “ascend to heaven together from the location in Ekiti”.
“Daddy Abraham said I should tell you to come back, that he is the one who makes you to come down to Nigeria [sic] and I was the one who gave you the chance to return back there, that I should also know how you will come back [sic] or he will make you to commit an offence over there and they will put you in prison. That he probably send you down so you will achieve your goals [sic],” wrote the mother.
After FIJ reported the incident, the church members were rescued and the pastor invited by the police for questioning.
THE INSIDER: HOW BOKO HARAM GAVE 15-MIN QURANIC LECTURE TO KUJE INMATES BEFORE SETTING THEM FREE
The terrorists who raided the Kuje Medium Security Prison in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital, had so much free time on their hands that they first delivered a 15-minute Quranic lecture to inmates before setting them free, an insider who witnessed the horror show from start to finish told FIJ.
“The first bomb sounded at exactly 10.05pm and as of 11pm security agents had taken cover while all the inmates were outside the cells in the compound,” he said.
“The terrorists moved everyone out of the facility to an open place where they gave Quranic lectures for about 15 minutes before they started sharing transportation fares to their members whom they came to rescue. It was very clear they came prepared.”
While all this was on, security officials had fled, and by the time the terrorists finished, one Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) official and four inmates had died.
FIJ’s Sade Owoyemi learnt that If the 1,007 inmates who were in the facility at the time of the attack, over 800 were set free. However, some returned to the facility on their own.
Owoyemi’s findings on the attack, based on insiders’ accounts, are detailed in the article titled ‘THE INSIDER: Boko Haram Gave 15-Min Quranic Lecture to Kuje Inmates Before Setting Them Free’.
BAPTISM BY FLOODING
“In September, a ravaging flood submerged some areas in Delta State, destroying many properties and halting the people’s lives in a grimmer fashion than it did in 2012. But apart from forcing many people out of their homes, the flood left its victims with unmistakable signs of poverty and unprecedented hardship,” wrote Emmanuel Uti, FIJ reporter who visited some of the places affected by the flood which displaced over 2.5 million people 2022.
Uti met Emmanuel Anya, whose eight months of labour was washed away in the twinkling of an eye; Enebeli Collins, an indigene of Beneku, who had abandoned his village to find a better life elsewhere; and Engineer Destiny Ogbu, who lost almost everything on his cassava and plantain plantations.
“It all started in late September. Without a sign, the flood took over my farm, and I could not even rescue a pin,” Onya told FIJ. “Before the flood receded, my cassava tubers had rotted away. I could not save them. The flood was so powerful that until now, I cannot exactly locate my farmland.”
The experiences and findings of Emmanuel were documented in a story titled ‘Baptism by Flooding: Extreme Weather Takes Delta Communities Back to Stone Age’.
SACRIFICES OF LEGS AND SOULS
In Atabula community, Obi LGA, Nassarawa State, there’s a road so bad that you can hardly escape an accident using it. And since either a life or a human body part is lost in each accident, the road is said to take sacrifices.
It was the road that ruined the dream wedding of Hanti Livingnus, a 36-year-old farmer in the community, and ended the marriage in less than two years.
In her dream, Livingnus had seen torrents of happy faces trooping into her wedding venue to celebrate a beautiful love story. “There was food aplenty. There was fast-drumming migili music to keep the audience excited. She was wearing the same local outfit with her husband and a white gele designed with colorful flowers”. And it was almost like that in reality.
Livingnus’ husband was a sports lover, so, three days to her wedding, the local Atabula youth team was to play a friendly match with another local team, Metwe, from Bogidi community in the Obi LGA, but the bad road struck again and took the lives of four players on their way to the match.
Just one and a half years after the wedding, Livingnus’ husband had an accident on the same road and died after three days in the hospital.
The experiences of the community members and the findings of FIJ’s Basit Jamiu were documented in a story titled ‘Sacrifices of Legs and Souls: How Forgotten Nassarawa Community Roads Wreak Havoc‘.
NIGERIA-CAMEROON BORDER VILLAGE WHERE CIVILIANS WERE KIDNAPPED, KILLED WITHOUT A TRACE
“By the afternoon of November 17, 2021, three Nigerians, including the traditional ruler and six other Cameroonian refugees, had been killed by gun-toting non-state actors in Manga village. On record, at least 21 persons — three Nigerians and 18 Cameroonians — were whisked away during the attack. As of the first anniversary of their death, none of these kidnapped casualties had been accounted for by either country,” wrote Gabriel Ogunjobi for FIJ.
The three Nigerians were victims of the recurring clashes between government security forces and two groups: a secessionist movement in southeastern Nigeria and a pro-independence movement in western Cameroon.
In April 2021, a few months before the kidnaps, leaders from both movements had formed a formal alliance, a dangerous romance that might further tank Nigeria’s frail land borders, said Gabriel.
In an article titled ‘INVESTIGATION: Nigeria-Cameroon Border Village Where Civilians Were Kidnapped, Killed without a Trace’, Gabriel traces the clashes to “the Foumban Conference of 1961, which united two territories with different colonial legacies into one state” and documents the experiences of victims.
SECRET EMPLOYMENT, JOB RACKETEERING IN OSUN AS OYETOLA PREPARES TO VACATE OFFICE
Isiaka Oyetola lost reelection on July 16, 2022, but in his remaining few months as governor of Osun, his government would reward loyal members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) with secret and illegal employments. “In the ongoing underground employment spree in the state,” wrote FIJ’s Sodeeq Atanda in November, “several categories of health workers have been employed and posted to different workstations.”
A beneficiary, who asked not to be named, told FIJ, “Although my employment did not come easily, I thank God for the opportunity. I can confirm to you that many nurses, doctors, CHEW have collected their employment letters too. But we are apprehensive as to what becomes our fate if a new government comes on board, considering the fact that we have just been employed.”
Although FIJ obtained the appointment letters sent to some new health sector recruits, there was no information about the process on the website of the Osun Primary Healthcare Development Board.
In an article titled ‘INVESTIGATION: Secret Employment, Job Racketeering in Osun As Oyetola Prepares To Vacate Office’, Sodeeq exposes the desperate move by the exiting government to pacify its loyalists and the irregularities in the process.
IN WAR-HIT TIGRAY, MONEY SAVES NO ONE
Imagine a Nobel Peace Prize winner coordinating what can be described as a genocide. Well, it happened in Ethiopia, and in a piece written in August, FIJ’s Damilola Adeyera documented the experiences of the victims of the Tigray war.
“Welcome to Ethiopia’s theatre of war. Abiy Ahmed Ali, the country’s Prime Minister and Nobel laureate, is the conductor of this orchestra,” Damilola wrote.
“At the centre stage, Ahmed directs the tempo of the Tigray-Ethiopia conflict. With a baton in his right hand, he commands his soldiers to commit genocidal acts against the people of Tigray, and the symphony that comes out of this score by Ahmed is a harmony of hunger, tears, pain and blood.”
Ashenafi Girmay Walika, who was born in January 1987 in Enticho, northern Tigray province, Ethiopia, was diagnosed with kidney failure, and as a result of the war, the non-functioning of the dialysis centre treating him made things even worse. Services were seriously disrupted at the centre, as there were no consumables for the dialysis machine to function. Walika died.
Stories like this make up Damilola’s article titled ‘Symphony of Pains: In War-Hit Tigray, Money Saves No One’.
EXCLUSIVE: HOW IRON DOORS SAVED ABBA KYARI FROM DEATH AT THE HANDS OF TERRORISTS IN KUJE
When Boko Haram terrorists invaded the Kuje Medium Security Prison, Abuja, they made an attempt on the life of Abba Kyari, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) and former head of the Inspector General of Police’s Intelligence Response Team (IRT), but failed, FIJ’s Sade Owoyemi found.
“They meant to kill Abba Kyari but God saved him because the doors of the segregation are stronger than other doors. They shot at his doors but the iron bed at the Segregation, where he hid himself under, saved him,” a source who asked not to be named told FIJ.
“Not just the iron bed, but the door itself, built by a non-governmental organisation. It was well-built; the terrorists were unable to break it, and I guess they did not want to expend all their time on it. It would have taken them a lot to break it down.”
Kyari’s troubles began in July 2021 when a US court ordered his arrest for allegedly playing a role in a multi-million-dollar fraud perpetrated by Ramon Abbas, better known Hushpuppi, and his co-conspirators.
In August, the Police Service Commission (PSC) officially suspended him, as he was being probed by the Nigerian government, and on February 14, 2022, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) declared him wanted for his “links to an international drug cartel”, subsequently arresting him the same day.
On this note, dear reader, we welcome you to a new FIJ year. We want to do more, and we hope to keep seeing you around.
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