So Akume is a Catholic Knight – By Iorliam Shija

By Iorliam Shija

Senator George Akume

Senator George Akume

I didn’t know that Senator George Akume, former governor of Benue State from 1999-2007, and now a second term senator, who also doubles(in the senate) as the minority Leader, was a catholic knight, until I saw a press release purportedly emanating from him on Monday, 22nd September,2014. At the end of the release titled, “Saving Christian Association Of Nigeria (CAN) from Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor” after he has said a lot of things(which do not interest me), he signed the document, which has been trending on social media already, as “Senator George Akume, KSJI, fnim”(emphasis mine). I dont know what fnim means but, KSJI means Knight of St Jonh’s International.

I have always known that Akume was a catholic without which he cant be a knight; in Wannune Tarkaa local government, Benue State, stands a magnificent basilica that Akume has built with his “early earned cash” and donated to the Catholic Diocese of Gboko. The street of his posh Makurdi Judges Quarters residence is named after one of the venerated catholic monks, Padre Pio. That’s not all, in a a leaked telephone interview between Akume and Usman Abubakar, alias Young Alhaji; after insulting certain elders like Ninga, Gbasha and others like Aboho, he was urging Alhaji to come and meet him so that they would attend an ordination mass for new priests in Gboko.Although the catholicity of Akume is not in doubt, yet it didn’t occur to me that he was a knight. Let me tell you why I found it difficult to reconcile this. I can excuse Akume the catholic, most of us, nominal Catholics, do unprintable things, but I cant extend same privileges to a Akume the knight, especially now that he is sounding the way he sounded in that Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor release.

In Adikpo, Kwande Local Government Benue State, where I grew, one man, a very good man was the symbol of knighthood, Knight of Saint John International (KSJI) for that matter. His name was Robert Zever Kandeor. His rank, I think, was a major. Kandeor, to our church, Saint Ann’s Catholic Adikpo, represented Christian orderliness and sanity. His love for the lowly and compassion for the down trodden, was not only visible in his yearly ritual of donating to the saint Vincent De Paul group to distribute to the poor, but he knew most of the church members, attended church burials and the likes. Kandeor used to do something that till now, no one in our church has done perfectly. Every festivity period, during Christmas, easter and the likes, he would come to church with his whole family. They would seat on one bench, all neatly dressed. To us, Major Kandeor KSJI, was saintly. He took Knighthood to standards that anybody, no matter highly placed, that answers a knight must be checked.

Maybe before I go on, I should seek to know when Akume was knighted. Was it before or after March 2004? Because in that year, Akume sent an armed militia on hapless catholics in Adikpo, and our priest, Very Rev Fr Adoboh, now by God’s grace, Bishop of Gboko Diocese became helpless and endangered. Was that knightly? A few years after the crisis, Bishop Adoboh granted an interview to a student Magazine that I edited. With waterly eyes,the Bishop who then was the Parish Priest Incharge of our Parish, told us how he would rush to Fr Patrick Forley in Ubwa, Buruku Local government to beg for food for the refugees that Akume, KSJI sent to the church. He also told us the tragic story of a young Igbo man who was felled by the bullet; a lot of people were killed around that time, but Adoboh singled out this guy because he was to wed the next Saturday.

As Kwande ran, as youngsters were killed daily, killings of same or more magnitude were also replicated in Akume’s home town, Wannune. Men were slaughtered and dumped in wells. These were all laid on the corridors of Akume,KSJI.

When, in a vividly recorded telephone exchange, that was later leaked to the media, Akume, KSJI, had called respected elders like Ninga Biam and Ambassador Gbasha, people which we all respect, as “Animals” and “dogs” , was he at that moment speaking as a knight? Prof Mvenda Jibo, a scholar of international repute, in his recent (controversial) book, also quoted Akume copiously as a vulgar man. If also anyone can x-ray Akumes’s eight years as governor of Benue State; how, though a former permanent secretary, and one who was familiar with the government house so there were high expectations, yet when he got there , reduced governance to beer drinking, and allowed matters of the state to waste, then, if he was at the moment a catholic knight , then someone need to save Catholicism and Knighthood from Akume,KSJI.

In 2007, as his gubernatorial regime was ending, Akume led an emissary to Tombo people of Buruku local government . Then, based on the zoning arrangement that the Tiv practice, the senate was for the Buruku people. Akume, with a loyalist like one Laha Dzever, got a loan. Till date, he has refused or is refusing to pay the debt. Is that what a Knight should do? King Leopold of Belgium , Ali A Mazrui, the Kenyan Political Scientist of the Africans: A tripartite heritage documentary fame, said bargained for Congo as his private Estate at the Berlin Conference in 1884. So the emissary that went to Tombo to seek for a senatorial loan on Akume’s behalf got there just like a Leopold?

“From the pioneer president of CAN His Eminence Dominic Cardinal Ekandem (of blessed memory) through his several revered successors like His Eminence Anthony Cardinal Okogie, Dr. Sunday Mbang, Most Rev. Peter Akinola and the immediate past President of CAN and Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, His Eminence John Cardinal Onaiyekan, CAN witnessed it’s glorious years. The organization promoted religious harmony through inter-faith dialogue. Cardinal Onaiyekan and the Sultan of Sokoto were even considered for the Nobel Peace prize award. CAN in those years regularly advised government on diverse issues affecting ordinary citizens and remained a strident voice for the voiceless. Those were those days. Today, the story is different.”, Akume wrote to Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor.

The Above quote brings me back to Late Major RZ Kandeor KSJI, the good Knight. If really Akume is a catholic Knight, then someone needs to save the knighthood too from him. Kandeor, like many other catholic Knights who defended and still defend Christendom, stands as permanent albatross of Akume’s Knightood credentials . But if his knighthood was some kind of honorary stuff, and had no serious catholic implications, then I withdraw my words, every each one of.


To receive the latest Benue news updates, join us on Facebook and Twitter. Also add us on WhatsApp via + 234 807 773 3550.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *