March 21, 2023

Celebrating Excellence & Integrity


The boy and the priest

The laurels mag. of March 20, reported a rather odd story, headlined “I single out clergymen for attacks after my ugly experience with gay reverend father.”

It is the odyssey — criminal if you wish — of Frederick Ugah, a car-snatching suspect, described in the report, per the Police, as “a notorious criminal who specializes in tormenting priests and imams only.”

Bola Longe, the Nasarawa State Commissioner of Police, who paraded Ugah, declared: “He steals from them at gunpoint and snatch their cars.”

But Ugah, rebellious and unrepentant, fired right back: “I have no regret for my actions. What I want the police to do is look into the problem I had in Abuja and Kaduna, which led to the priest kicking me out of the parish.” Intriguing stuff!

Crime and punishment should be open and close. You do the crime, you do the time, so long as it’s all a product of judicial due process. Hardball doesn’t wish to contest that process. Not for Ugah. Not for anyone else.

But the suspect’s appeal to the police, to tie back stuff to how it all started, appears rather intriguing, if not outright inviting. No — not to mitigate Ugah’s alleged crime. But to beam fair light on his driving motives.
Such could expose a probable case of mental health, driven by felt past emotional injuries. Such trajectory would not only help crack the crime, but also close the cycle of past bitterness, which may yet lead to future crimes.

Ugah claimed his victim — a Catholic priest he once lived under as foster-son — tried to sexually abuse him. After Ugah’s rejection of the priest’s alleged advances, the reverend father allegedly made up stories of phantom fraud against the boy; and allegedly poisoned the mind of every priest in the parish against him.

“My life had been to serve reverend fathers. I washed their clothes, cooked for them and served as their altar boy, while they helped to sponsor my education.”

His priestly master’s sacred lies, Ugah claimed, led to his expulsion from his teen-youth haven — haven, because Ugah was a complete orphan, who had lost both parents very early in life; and his parish homes: first, in Abuja; then, in Kaduna State, were the only home he knew.

But worse: Ugah’s expulsion doomed an otherwise promising future. The resultant financial cut-off shredded his university programme. He ended up a university dropout: a Year 4 Law student, at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), forced to drop his studies. Seven years later, a putative lawyer had settled into a routine life of crime — making priests and Imams his criminal “niche”!

“I took the key to the car in his absence,” Ugah claimed, stressing his familiarity with his victim; and insisting he never put a gun to his head to snatch the car, “because I lived with him before.”

This rather intriguing backgrounding hardly justifies Ugah’s choice of crime. That is a personal choice, which the law is loath to overlook.
But probing the genesis offers the prospect of not only bringing the priest to account (if the allegations prove true) but also treating a troubled citizen of possible mental health, even if the law must throw a criminal into the can.

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