The newspaper and social media headlines say it all: that something is definitely wrong somewhere when a crocodile turns and begins to eat the very eggs it is supposed to protect: Lagos Pastor defiles church member’s twin daughters… Pastor caught naked in an attempt to sleep with member’s wife…G.O’s Deputy impregnates secretary….Sex For Grades: Church Suspends Lecturer-Pastor Caught on BBC Documentary…Pastor rapes female church member…“For the first time, I saw a completely different person from who we knew or who I thought I knew,” says victim…Pastor defiles daughter for 5 years, impregnates, aborts her pregnancies 3 times…. Pastor arrested over N8m Fraud…. Pastor sent to prison over N100m Lekki Land Fraud… Pastor charged to court over N118m dud cheques…
Taken together, the stories show that behind the façade of the glamorous pastor-preacher lies an amorous and fraudulent one. In these riveting tales Samuel Laraiyetan, retired police officer, thinks he has found his self-assigned mission: to change the harrowing narrative with his books. Now, that is the bit that will surprise you: that the man who has taken it upon himself to clean, book-wise, the Augean stable of the church comes from a moral constituency that many Nigerians do not particularly fancy or have respect for, because, in terms of corruption, theirs is perhaps twice as bad: police.
Is Saul also among the prophets? And, can anything good come out of Nazareth? Throw those questions like confetti into the air and Laraiyetan who retired in 2007 as Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, after serving in Nigeria and Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of United Nations Peace-Keeping Force, would gladly allow them to collate on his face. While in the police, he said, he too faced similar temptations like our clergymen are faced with every other day: of women throwing themselves at him in various shapes and sizes; of money being thrown at him from various directions of the haves. But through them all, he survived and was able to maintain an untainted record.
And, the principles that aided him in coming out with clean hands are what he has distilled in the books and intends to bequeath to the swash-buckling, tongue-speaking but morally-loose Nigerian pastor-preachers. So far, he has written five of such books among which are: Who Will Sanitize the Church? and Hostage in the Church. His latest is Evil in the House of God and, in it, he x-rays some untoward goings-on in the churches, foremost among them: sex scandal and fraudulence. The book is aimed at serving as an instrument of correction on the unwholesome practices prevalent in the church.
His experience with some of our charismatic pastor-preachers while in the police force is not far from what the screaming media headlines are all about. “I write based on my experiences,” he said. “While I was in the Force I saw pastors who have concubines and all kinds of dirty things. This is sad and unfortunate. I believe that by writing about those things we can bring corrections to them and keep the public aware.” But it has not been rosy pushing the vision through. In this interview with Chika Abanobi, he shares, among other things, his frustrations in his attempt to do that.
What motivated you to go into book writing and what has your experience been like?
I decided to make the truth known by writing books. Unfortunately, the experience has not been pleasant.
How do you mean?
Before I started writing, I didn’t know much about our reading culture. I thought when a man uses his money to buy a book he would not rest until he has read it. I later discovered that a lot of people buy books and keep in their libraries. Most people read because of the desire to acquire certificates.
For how long have you been writing and how many books have you published so far?
By the grace of God, I have written five books. My first book came out in 2010. The five books are in this order: Who Is on the Lord’s Side?; Who Will Sanitize the Church?, Hostage in the Church, My Wilderness Experience and, my latest, Evil in the House of God. My objective is to disseminate the truth to as many people as possible.
How many are still in the works or unpublished? Could you let us in into their themes or focus?
The only book I have, which is yet to be published in hard copy form, is my latest book, Evil in the House of God. It has, however, been published online. In this part of the world, we have not become used to reading books online. To reach a wider audience, books must be published in hard copies.
How did you get the book into Kindle and Amazon?
I got to know about Kindle and Amazon by divine arrangement. I told someone about my handicap in publishing my book and he told me about Amazon. Up till this moment, the hard copy has not been published.
Are there any other marketing platforms you’ve put your books on?
Aside Amazon, another marketing platform I use is Okada.
What has the response been like so far?
I got a mail from Okada informing me that they sold a copy and they informed me of the availability of N700 in my account. Even though the money is nothing to write home about, I am still excited.
I am excited to see my book displayed along with that of other notable authors by Okada. I regard that as an achievement.
What has been the most discouraging of all the responses?
The most discouraging response about my book came from my own people, Nigerians. Some have preconceived notions about my books. Some of them were like asking the question Nathaniel asked: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” I was mocked and despised because I wrote books. When I became discouraged, I started giving them out as complimentary copies.
When, what time of the day, do you usually like to write and why?
The inspiration to write can take hold of me anytime of the day. When it comes, I respond immediately.
How do you get the materials or ideas you use to write and how do you organise them?
I read a lot of books. I make sure I have a jotter available with me at all times. I have exhausted so many jotters. An idea can come to me even in the dead of the night. Before I forget such an idea, I would jump out of bed to write it down.
Looking at your published works so far, most of them have been on the church or the noticeable ills therein. Would you say that you are on a divine mission to correct some ills in the church?
I strongly believe I have a divine mandate to correct some of the unwholesome practices prevalent in the church. So many secrets have been exposed to me, especially in the church. Before my departure from this world, I am determined to point this generation to the path of truth like John the Baptist did. A frightened world needs a fearless church.
I am strongly of the opinion that the cup of iniquity of this generation is full and it’s running over. I have witnessed unbelievable hypocrisy and lawlessness in the modern world. Research has revealed that there is always a contradiction between what is preached in the church and what is practised thereafter in a larger society. As the church increases in population, riches and worldly wisdom, there is no corresponding spiritual power and piety.
What has been the impact of your books so far on this area and has there been any opposition?
I am yet to achieve the desired objective. I gave a copy of my book to a man. Two weeks after I gave him, he saw me and confessed that initially he was not interested in reading the book. He said it was his son who read it and liked what he read, and then told him, which made him interested. He encouraged me to continue the good work I was doing with the books. I have had cause to sell a car just to enable me to publish one of the books.
What do you find most frustrating about your mission to correct the ills in the church?
That a lot of people are exposed to the truth, but very few are ready to embrace it. A lot of people are biased. I visited a senior police officer in his office and gave him a complimentary copy of one of my books. Without opening the book, he gave it to a woman-visitor in my presence. A lot of people are given to a life of indulgence. Unfortunately, prosperity messages have taken over the pulpit at the neglect of the message of repentance. The result is that this has enslaved many hearts in pleasure and love of the world.