• Defend the Church, Society, Bishop Odetoyinbo challenges Knights
• Islamic fundamentalists go about killing people, and the government has refused to let people label them as terrorists – Adebisi
• We should have a balanced constitution, fair and beneficial to all concerned – Mbelede
By Neta Nwosu and Constaincia Uruakpa
The week just ended marked the 60th anniversary of the Knights and Ladies of Lagos Metropolitan Council, Order of St. Mulumba, Nigeria. The seven-day weeklong event commenced with an Opening Mass and a Press Conference. The state of the nation was brought to bear at both events, including the liturgical celebration. Most Rev. (Dr.) Peter Kayode Odetoyinbo, Bishop of the Diocese of Abeokuta fired the first shot. Delivering the homily at the Mass, the prelate challenged the Knights to enhance their responsibilities in the defence of the Church and welfare of the society. Drawing attention to the roles of the Knights in transforming, developing and changing society, the Bishop of Abeokuta Diocese stressed that ensuring a better society is an essential task of knighthood.
He said, “In the biography of Fr. Abraham Ojefua, written by Prof. Michael Ogunu, a Knight is defined to be usually of noble birth, expected to be chivalrous, adventurous, valiant and devoted to duty; a man with irreproachable behaviour, a champion of justice, a defender of the weak and oppressed. The Bishop went further to say that these features are the qualities expected of a knight and a Lady, in the service of the society, his kin and the Church. “This statement of Prof. Ogunu is made in the light of crusades that specifically were founded with specific objectives to liberate the Holy Land and protect the pilgrims as well as the roots the pilgrims take to the Holy Land, Jerusalem.
Now that the crusades are over, yet, the crusades are still needed today because other forms of oppression, injustice, corruption, ignorance of Christian faith, among others have emerged, hence, the knighthood in the Church is meant to keep that same spirit, the same objectives and inspirations of the knights of old. “This is quite necessary today, as many challenges face the society and the Church that must appeal to the feelings and foundation of the Knights of St. Mulumba (KSM) who, as further highlighted by Prof Ogunu, are devoted sons and daughters of the Church that continue to offer their services and lives in defence of the Church against her many enemies, and will fight for her welfare, for her less favoured children.
“The weapon now used is neither bow or arrow, nor sword or gun, but truth, faith, justice and persevering labour. The Church approves you, and challenges you to this service. This is properly defined in your constitution, and laid down by your founding father, Fr. Ojefua, stating that you are to undertake to work for the defence, protection and extension of the Church.” Speaking further, Most Rev. (Dr.) Odetoyinbo, noted that the situation in Nigeria today and the Church, needs the intervention and efforts of the Knights now more than ever before. “You have done a lot, of which we give thanks to God for you, and we join you to celebrate the goodness of God in your lives and activities.
You therefore must constantly and consistently put before you, your aims, which is needed in Nigeria today, as we are all witnesses to what is going on.” “ As spelt out by Prof. Ogunu, the main aims of the Order of the Knights is to bring Catholics together in fraternal association for the good and progress of the Church, welfare of the country, Nigeria, well being of Nigerians generally, and for its members in particular, which you are doing.” He enjoined them to carry out the injunctions of the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria.”You are well aware that the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) issues Communiqués, year after year, since its inception in the 60s.
And the recent one issued last week, after their plenary in Enugu, they challenged the government in all areas. The political class and the officers have been challenged and confronted by these Communiqués. So, dear Knights and Ladies, the Church in Nigeria looks onto such orders like yours to carry out injunctions of the Bishops, and you cannot but follow, since your aim is to participate in candid action in politics, social welfare, to get involved in matters concerning the progress of the Church, as well as the State, to spearhead and promote various services in such regards.
“The Bishops in Nigeria are forbidden to take part in action politics, but you, in accordance with your baptismal promises, and your membership in this order are obliged and mandated to participate in politics, so that you can effect the desired positive change in society, especially Nigeria. “Am sure some of you belong to PDP, APC, APGA, and so on and so forth, as there are political associations in Nigeria. And you owe it to God, to the Church and to this Order, to make Nigeria better. And as soldiers of the Church, you are expected and required, with fervent zeal for the social apostolate, holding in high esteem your professional and political competence, your family and the civic service that you possess.
As you celebrate these sixty years, you must possess and pray for virtues related to the social behaviour, such as honesty, justice, sincerity, courtesy, and the moral courage with the Christian virtues and ability to carry on, and endure all hardships for the good of all. “Prof. Ogunu says that yours is a vocation which is very significant in addressing all forms of injustice, indignity, inhumanity and corruption, oppression, inequality, at any time, and in any place where you find yourself, and where these are found. “You should be concerned always to speak out and act where these evils are found and perpetrated, and of course, it is everywhere.
Knights, should therefore, constitute a sort of vigilante group, monitoring and reacting to the moral, social, the economic and political imperatives, as demanded by Christ (Matt.7:12). “Having stated the above reflection, description and aims of the knights, I must confess to you on this altar that you are doing well, and you must continue to do well in your little ways of resounding the calls of the Bishops, and the needs of the poor, the sick, the lowly and afflicted, not only among yourselves, but in the Church, in Nigeria, and in the society. “May God reward you for all these, and grant you more graces and opportunities, with courage to do more for the Church and the society.
You must constantly and consistently be for Christ and for the Church and with the Church. Your closeness to Christ and obedience to the Church will, and can only guarantee your success and credibility, your dignity and relevance to the society and the Church. “As Knights, you must live exemplary Catholic lives, and grow in grace of God through the characteristic knightly virtue of charity, through the support you give to the Church, the needy, the poor, the widow, the aged, the sick and the oppressed.” In another vein, at the Press Conference, in responding to questions that border on VAT and insecurity issues, Sir William Adebisi, Metropolitan Grand Knight, Lagos Metropolitan Council, KSM Nigeria stated, “When we talk about fairness in a society, the first thing we should think of is justice.
There can be no peace if injustice prevails. Part of the injustices in the system, a court in Rivers State just ruled on it, concerning VAT. I have been listening to commentaries on radio, on TV and you will see the explanation being given that even the constitution did not give collection of VAT to the Federal Government; it’s the right of the State Government. So, what the judge has done is to correct this anomaly. “Take also for instance, the anti grazing laws, even though this has been in our constitution long before now, and our Bible even supports it that you should not allow your cattle to go into other people’s field, if your cattle goes into other people’s field, and eat up their crops, you are supposed to pay them a fine, handsomely that you pacify the person who lost his crops.
Concerning the killings in the Northern parts of the country, he said, “Christians are taught not to fight with the enemy’s weapon, despite the fact that the Islamic fundamentalists see their killing of supposed infidels as martyrdom. “See what is happening in the North, as Islamic fundamentalists go about killing people, and the government has refused to let people label them as terrorists, you see all media houses call them bandits. I don’t know what banditry is, I don’t know what terrorism is; I don’t know. And those who venture to talk so much about it; they go clamping down on the media houses that featured them. So, we just have to continue praying and trust our Lord. Like the Governor of Benue State said, Buhari should allow us carry arms like the Fulani herdsmen are legally allowed to carry arms.
” The Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight applauded the Council for the roles it has played so far in addressing the security problems. “In the case of insecurity, we are trying. As knights, we have a prayer, and we are dishing out statements, condemning all these banditry, as they call it. It’s not funny at all. People are killed just like that, and their widows and children are taken to Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Centres. Even at IDP Centres, these terrorists will still go there and attack them.” He urged the Knights of St. Mulumba and other concerned Nigerians to go into politics, so as to help address the injustices. On what KSM is doing about insecurity, Sir (Dr.) Charles Mbelede, Deputy Supreme Knight, KSM Nigeria stated, “Let me bring to your attention that we had Catholic-man match at Abuja. KSM Nigeria actively participated in that trek.
It was a seven-kilometer trek. We all were there; the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) participated. What we did was to drive home the level of insensitivity, the level of insecurity and trouble in this country, which was properly articulated. And also because we are a member of International Alliance of Catholic knights, we sensitised the entire world on the activities and sufferings of people in the country. Lending KSM’s voice to the crusade for review of the constitution, Sir Mbelede added, “Virtually, the State and National Assembly are in the know that the 1999 constitution is too far from being correct. It’s not only when we say that they have said, they have said it that it was done by the army and it’s partial and we are saying that for professionalism, in order to think together, plan together and achieve together as a nation, we should have a balanced constitution, which is fair to all concerned, which is beneficial to all concerned, which will attract goodwill and bring about cooperative environment.
So, that is why you would have seen before now, the past regime brought the constitution amendment concept, which was aimed at righting the wrongs. So, we are adding voice to what have been said. The need to right those wrongs because we are in a plural society, where everybody should be seen as one. “KSM Nigeria stands for indivisible Nigerian society, where everyone is seen as one. Therefore, for a fair and proper society, we pray that we have a constitution that is beneficial, not one-sided, one that will touch the lives and activities of all Nigerians.” On the Order’s proposed anti abortion bill and its state, the Metropolitan Grand Knight said: “You know our politicians have a way of killing bills or promoting bills, depending on where their interest lies. This bill has gone through several readings, but I tell you what, no matter how hard we try, the evil ones among our nationals will always want to lean towards what America is interested in.
Whether true or false, our President was threatened when he went to America, they said by Trump, that he should go and make sure that the bill does not succeed. Same sex marriage was being pursued. Lagos State House of Assembly did the public hearing. The Worthy Immediate Past Supreme Treasurer, Sir Lawrence Okonofua recounted “When we got there, we had a well prepared paper on why same sex marriage is alien, unsuitable for our culture, not to talk of our Christian leaning. But funny enough, that day, a bus load of people, ‘Metropolitan Group of Nigeria’ came to canvass on why same sex marriage should be allowed in Nigeria. The House of Assembly appeared to have accepted what we have said. But, it’s one thing to accept, and you know when it gets to backing what you are saying, some of us who go abroad, they tend to backslide.
We were well received and they congratulated KSM for what we had presented, but thereafter, the Metropolitan Club appeared to have won the day. The Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight also gave the instance of the State of Texas’ current ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy; he added that a lot of condemnation trailed the pronouncement. “Even the US President said it’s un-American that abortion shouldn’t be done. I don’t know whether they know that what they are aborting is a human being. Even the one of Texas is saying if the pregnancy is six weeks and above, you cannot abort, but you can come much earlier. I don’t know what kind of mentally that is. But of course, it’s because of their orientation”, he noted.
Lady (Dr.) Ify Mbelede, Metropolitan President, Lagos Metropolitan Council, Ladies of St. Mulumba (LSM) Nigeria said KSM is the brainchild of the servant of God, Fr. Abraham Ansalem Isidahome Ojefua, who founded the order in 1953, to counteract the effects of occultism in the society. She disclosed that in the past, when the Knights were holding their meetings, they would always go with their wives, and the wives would stay around, waiting for their husbands or their brothers, as the men were referred to in the order, to finish their meeting. Lady Mbelede noted that at some point, it occurred to the women that they could equally organize themselves to achieve a common purpose, and make impact in the Church and society.
“So, the women started organizing. But it was not until March 18, 1978, at Ibadan that the Ladies of St. Mulumba was officially born; it was officially inaugurated, and the brain behind that was the Archbishop Emeritus of Ibadan Archdiocese, Archbishop Alaba Job. He was the person who said if these women are the wives to the Knights, they should be addressed as nothing, but Ladies. “They (women) used to call themselves Ladies of the Blue Army, after Our Lady because Our Lady has this Blue Army, people who are devoted to Our Lady, and people who fight the course of Our Lady, which is fighting against injustice in the society, and encouraging people to obey the word of God, and make the society a better place. So, that was their objective. But on March 18, 1978, it became known as Ladies of St. Mulumba. At that time, there were only about 13 Sub-councils, all over Nigeria. But they started having regular meetings; they now had their officers, just as the brothers or their husbands had their officers, and from there, they continued to grow.