Recall that the state government announced on Tuesday through the Justice ministry that his case is being reviewed for necessary action. Although, his was not the only one being appraised by the state government, King stole the headlines because of the aura around his personality.
Little are been said about the others on the death row whose fate, like that of the General Overseer of the Christian Praying Assembly (CPA), are hanging on the balance.
“Yes, everything seems set for his hanging. Though, he may not be the only one that might be executed soon. Going by the feelers we are getting, it is likely the governor would sign the warrant next week, and the hanging would follow immediately to avoid unnecessary sentiment.
What was put out on Tuesday was to gauge the mood and prepare the minds of the populace on what to come,” a source at the state Ministry of Justice, who craved anonymity, confided in Saturday Telegraph.
King, it appears, fits into the late Afro Beat King, Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s reference to a Very Important personality, in this case, Prisoner (VIP), a coinage used to describe the then movers and shakers of the Nigerian society.
Since the preacher’s travail in the hands of the authorities a few years back, anytime his name is mentioned, it automatically headlines the news. He is said to be living like a true king in the Lagos prison in spite of his condemned status.
King was sentenced to death in 2007 by a Lagos State High Court over the death of one of his church members after he allegedly set her on fire. Miffed by the judgement, King quickly appealed the ruling which he lost at the Court of Appeal.
He ran to the Supreme Court for reprieve, but met another road block. Instead of clemency, the apex court ratified his death sentence.This confirmation, ironically, came on a Friday that happened to be his birthday.
When Saturday Telegraph visited CPA, which is located at Ugo Nnabuife Street, off Murtala Muhammad Airport Road, Ajao Estate, Isolo, on Wednesday, there was total quietness.
This was an indication that members were unaware of the Lagos State government’s position on King. The entrance gate was under lock and no activity within the church premises.
A few followers that our reporter saw and spoke with sported a clean shaved head and bushy beards. It was also learnt that all the pastors at the church use ‘King’ as their surname.
The neighbourhood was calm and devoid of the usual boisterousness that was its hallmark before King was caged. Those who spoke with our reporter on condition of anonymity seemed to be enjoying this development.
“We now have our peace since ‘their holiness’ went to jail. We just hope the government will follow up with his hanging that is long overdue. Only God knows why they are delaying the thing.
We hope it would not be another abracadabra. We have been praying for his execution. He committed a lot of atrocities and deserved to die,” tone of the neighbours said.
But, his devotees have described the latest pronouncement on King, as a huge joke. When Saturday Telegraph confronted them with the position of the state government, they waved it off amusingly, expressing belief that God will diffuse any ‘evil thinking’ towards their G.O. One of his members who refused to give his name, boasted: “He will return to join us in a most triumphant way that would shock Nigerians.
Our General Overseer, the most holiness, Rev. Dr. King is coming back. He told us he would come back and we believed him. We don’t need to doubt that he is coming back.
He foresaw everything happening now long before the manipulation of the devil.” Another, who identified himself simply as John, said: “These things are happening to strengthen him.
However, you the media are also contributing to the negative report around him, because you people want to sell your papers. But God will surprise all of you.
The governor may have given his verdict just like the courts, but you can quote me, nothing will happen to the man of God. All those who lied against our father in the lord have been forgiven.
This is what he told us. It is only left for them to repent from their evil ways.” Two others who spoke to Saturday Telegraph near the canal where they had gone to pray, added: “What you are seeing is the handiwork of witches and wizards.
Soon a new story will be told. King’s story will reshape Christendom.” One of them further affirmed:
“Whether people realise it or not, everybody now knows his holiness, our G.O. The front pages of newspapers are flooded with his name. People are yearning to read about him in the social media. I can confirm to you that by all these, a lot of people have become endeared to him.”
Despite this enthusiasm from his followers, many landlords within the church environ, express the hope that Ambode would sign King’s death warrant to hasten the process of his end without further delay. One of his next door landlords, who applauded the latest move by the state government, said: “I saw this coming a long time ago.”
The landlord, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added: “Now, we need the governor to quickly sign the papers, because if he does not, we are in trouble. “The church members had been saying they would take over our houses and they have been threatening to deal with some of us. They asked us to just wait for his return and see what would happen.
That was why we were happy immediately we heard the news from the state government. In fact, I can tell you that we are very happy at the turn of events now. We are happy because it would mark the end of a group constituting a nuisance to this vicinity.
They have been lords unto themselves.” Another landlord, who also begged to be shielded for security reasons, said he wants the governor to quickly sign the death warrant to avoid lobby from both church leaders and other influential members of the society.
“Ours is a funny society. Ambode should speed up this process so that we can permanently have our peace here. King killed and as such he deserves to die too.
The governor should do this and on time. The truth is that his church has not impacted the community in any way. We are eagerly awaiting his death.”
However, Bishop Stephen Ogedengbe, founder and head of Evangelical Ministries (Wisdom Chapel), said it was so unfortunate that king would end up this way. “His, is a great lesson to all of us.
We should, at all times, try as much as possible to be conscious of our attitude, character and behaviour because we are going to account for everything we do to God.
“We are also using this opportunity to ask to be led by the body of Christ to behave, to be watchful. No man is indispensable, the only thing that everyone enjoys is Grace, and Grace should not be abused, because when Grace is abused, disgrace will step in.”
To Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN): “When it comes to security votes many governors are very eager, very willing and very ready to appropriate or rather misappropriate funds of their respective states.
While the common man with their faith are languishing in abject penury. “But when it comes to carrying out their constitutional and legal duty of confirming the death sentences on convicts by another arm of government, the judiciary, that was bold enough after examining all the hard facts before it and after hearing testimony of all witnesses both for the accused and the defence, decided to convict and sentence them to death, the governors will quietly begin to run back like a dog with a tail between the legs.
“They will run away from their constitutional and legal duty and quickly wash their hands off the confirmation of the death sentences. Some of them that I have talked to said they don’t want to have the blood of a citizen on their hands.
How can they talk like that? These people are not being executed extra-legally or extra-judicially; they have gone through the due process of law of our criminal justice system. If you ask me, I will urge Ambode to sign the warrant without further delay.
That is my candid opinion.” The condemned cleric was arraigned before the Lagos High Court in Ikeja on September 26, 2006, on six counts of the murder of a member of his church, Ann Uzoh, and attempted murder of five other members.
He was said to have poured petrol on the deceased and the five other victims and set them on fire for allegedly committing fornication. Uzoh died on August 2, 2006, 11 days after the incident, as a result of the injuries which she sustained from the burns.
The trial judge, Justice Olubunmi Oyewole (now a Justice of the Court of Appeal), had in his judgement delivered on January 11, 2007 convicted King and sentenced him to 20 years imprisonment on each of the five counts of attempted murder and death sentence for murder.
Dissatisfied with Justice Oyewole’s judgement, he appealed to the Court of Appeal, which also affirmed the sentence passed on him. He further ran to the Supreme Court which dismissed his appeal and affirmed the verdicts of both the Lagos High Court and the Court of Appeal.