Kano Pastor castrated
The commercial city of Kano in North Western Nigeria was engulfed in a riot. As the city convulsed and simmered, Rev. Simon H. Ibrahim decided to take refuge in his office. Then he was the secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kano. But he was a marked man.Fatwa
He was born and raised a Muslim in the same state. He was even known in the city as an Islamic scholar before he converted to Christianity. That was when his problem started. Members of his family denounced him and his former Muslim friends and colleagues began treating him like a pariah. For daring to switch to another religious faith, a fatwa (death sentence) was slammed on him.
When a religious crisis convulsed the city, a handful of fundamentalists were hot on his trail. They stormed his office and dragged him out by the scruff of his pastor’s collar to the back of his office. After beating him unconscious, his assailants crudely cut off his testicles with a sharp dagger and plucked out his right eye. They went away triumphantly with these vital body parts as a trophy and he was left to bleed to death.
Help later came to the 56-year-old Anglican Pastor. Still dazed by the harrowing experience, he was taken to a hospital in Kano by some good Samaritans. After months in the hospital, he was discharged. For security reasons, the church, Sunday Sun learnt, “spirited” him out of the city and eventually out of the country. For the past 19 years he had been out of Nigeria until his brief return this week.Safe at last
Now a missionary in far away Mali and under the protective wings of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Rev Simon is safe at last. He only flew into Lagos to witness the handing over of keys to an apartment and car to Mrs Veronica George Orji, the wife of another pastor slain by Boko Haram in Maiduguri last July.
Not broken by the ugly incident, which took place in 1991 when renowned German televangelist Reinhard Bonnke visited the city, he told Sunday Sun: “I remember the grim details all the time but as a Christian, I forgive them.”
Pressed for further comments, he said: “I don’t call what happened to me a castration. I call it God’s own appointed time. I had had children before that time. I have six of them and I’m contented with that number. My attackers didn’t win. I’m alive, hale and hearty
“In fact, very little has changed. I’m still a thorn in their flesh. As I told you, I was an Islamic scholar before I converted to Christianity. I have their records. That is why they are afraid of me.
“Anyway, I’m under the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). We are not allowed to talk the way I’m talking to you now.”
Deep concern for his safety and security perhaps precludes him from disclosing where his wife and children are. All he could say about his family was: “They are somewhere. You know, with the way things are, it is not right for me tell you every detail. That may create a security problem.”Defiant
At the quiet ceremony in Gbagada, Lagos, which attracted the president of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, Rev Simon radiated good health and defiance.
Praying for all martyrs, widows and orphans of the numerous religious crises in the country, he said: “God will in His infinite power and wisdom touch the hearts hardened by hatred and protect helpless widows and children made fatherless.”
Before heading for the airport to return to his base, the cleric spent quality time with Mrs Orji’s little daughter, Esther. She was born six months after her father’s death. The resettlement of Pastor Orji’s wife was spearheaded by an NGO, Macedonia Initiative. Its international coordinator, Pastor Ladi Thompson, told Sunday Sun: “The gesture is only a model of other great things we plan to do for the martyr.”
Notable clerics, who also helped, included Bishop Mike Okonkwo, Pastor Yomi Kasali and Pastor Femi Paul of Grace Assembly.