By Lawrence Enyoghasu
The Order of the Knights of Saint Mulumba (KSM), Lagos Metropolitan Council, has come a long way. From holding their meetings in the bush to booking halls, the group has survived, and it celebrated its 60th anniversary with a retreat, charity and advocacy, among others.
At every event, the dress code was black suit and white shirt for the knights, while the ladies adorned an African print uniform emblazoned with patron saint of KSM.
Explaining what the order was about, Lagos State House of Assembly member, Sir Jude Idimogu, said: “It is all about charity. We are the soldiers of the Catholic Church and we keep its needs in our hearts. If you don’t have the spirit of giving, you can’t be a knight. You have to give. We are just here to help the poor The experience is related to being a public servant. You just have to give to the society. Like the society, the church has entrusted the knights with the responsibility to help the poor.”
And it was all they did for one week without batting an eye.
The group, which was established in Lagos on September 16, 196, started the diamond celebration with a courtesy visit to the Lagos Archbishop, Most Rev.Alfred Martin, opening mass, funfair and retreat for the week long programme, between September 9 and September 18.
The retreat, which held at Saint Leo Ikeja was titled, “KSM in Lagos Metropolitan Council @60: Development, Growth and Challenges,” was a solemn reflection for the knights and ladies present.
Delivering the lecture, Very Rev. Fr. Augustine Nnaemeka talked extensively on how the knights could help the society and country at large. “Service to church is also service to nation. Caring for church is caring for the nation,” he stated.
The charity was a visit to two charity homes – Ozanam Home for the Destitute and Regina Mundi Old people’s Home.
Cash, toiletries, tubers of yam, bags of beans and rice were among the things taken to these houses. According to the head sister at Frederic Ozanam Home for the Destitute, Bridget Abba, the help came when needed most.
“We are currently down and there was no hope until I received a call from your association that the order would be visiting. At that point, I knew hope was coming because there was no time KSM would visit and we won’t smile,” she stated.
At Regina Mundi, Rev.Sister Anthonia Adebowale was also happy with the visit. She enumerated their plans as gratitude for the help the order has been rendering. Adebowale added that she would have been a knight if she was married. “The houses can only take 14 of them even as we have converted our dormitory to accommodate more. Majority of them are in their 80s. If I were to be married, I would have joined the order, it is a society I would have joined if I were not a Reverend sister,” she stated.
The event also had an advocacy conference titled, “Decongestion of correctional centres: Status Quo.” It was a battle period where the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, blamed the judiciary for the current congestion in the Nigerian Correctional Service(NCOS) centres, adding that the NCOS hands are tied as it is not allowed by law to reject inmates sentenced to the correctional centers or release them.
Aregbesola, who was represented by Special Adviser on Nigerian Correctional Service, Suleiman Tala, stated that the primary responsibility of NCOS is to hold offenders, pending the adjudication of their cases before a law court.
“It is important for the public to be aware that the NCOS and the Ministry of Interior are trying their best to tackle the issue from different angles as the length of time the inmates stay at the custodian centre is not determined by NCOS but by the justices. I may not be able to reiterate exactly what the challenges are with the judiciary. However, as it affects the NCOS, we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCOS,” he stated.
Representing the Inspector-General of Police, Baba Usman, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, accepted that the police contributes to the congestion but gave his reasons.
“Inconsistency of the appearance of police officers to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolong trial but the IGP has mandated that officers must attend court cases as at when due. The police is being hampered by high level of distrust between the citizens and the police institution,” he stated.
Also available at the conference, Lagos State Catholic Archbishop, Alfred Adewale Martins, who was represented by Rev. MSGR. Paschal Uwaezeapu stated that decongestion of the prisons would continue to be a matter as long as government has refused to fix the country.
“The prison would continue to be congested if we don’t fix the society. As long as our society is a place where everybody takes for himself without considering their neighbour, then our prison would continue to be congested. If we need to fix the prison we need to fix the family. These prisoners come from families. We need to fix the education system also. We need to promote justice; without all these, the prison will soon overflow,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, Sir William Adebisi, urged the government to declare state of emergency on the congestion of prisons and disagreed with the minister’s directive to state governors to sign death warrants as a way of correctional centers decongestion.
“The government needs to take the matter serious as it affects the health of the inmates, economy of the country and behavioral change of the inmates,” he stated.
On September 18, which was the grand finale, KSM started their day with a Catholic mass that was celebrated by the Archbishop of Lagos, Alfred Adewale Martins, who advised the knights to maintain their policies and values as the country needs such.
“One of the things about Nigerian politicians is inconsistency in goals and principles. When Fani Kayode was criticizing Buhari it was not based on principles of not he would not join or switch to APC . It is not surprising that we are where we are today because we have people like him who are inconsistent,” he stated.
The event also had about 100 knights given awards in various categories for exemplary services .