By Adekunle Adewunmi
Popular armed robber in northern Nigeria, Gula Tema popularly known as Baba Alli, now a pastor in Baptist Church, has recounted how former President Olusegun Obasanjo led him to Christ in prison while he was in detention.
Tema whose story made the round shortly after he was released from the prison in 2003 said in an exclusive interview with our correspondent at the Bells University, Ota where he came for a function that it would be difficult to forget the strategic role Obasanjo played in his life noting that the former president was the instrument God used to bring him to the knowledge of Jesus.
Tema was a terror to security agents and widely feared by many residents in the north because he used voodoo to terrorise his victims.
A native of Adamawa State and Kilba by clan, Tema, who was later arrested, convicted and remanded in prison said he started pilfering at a very young age in his parents’ house. As he became mature he joined the fierce Agabos armed robbery gang.
His voyage into full time armed robbery led him to consult and seek help from witch doctors in Borno, Sokoto and outside the country. These witch doctors provided him with charms that made him invincible as well as made him a terror.
He told our correspondent that through the charms he could appear and disappear at will during operations thus making it difficult for security men to apprehend him. “If I am inside the room or climbing something, I can be seen but, when I place my legs on bare ground, you won’t see me again.” He said.
He also disclosed that he had tasted human flesh and blood noting that “if God could forgive me, there is nobody he cannot forgive”.
The born again Baba Alli said touching a lady in her menstrual period was the taboo which could annul all his powers adding, “It happened that I had touched a lady which was the reason for my arrest. I was drunk, intoxicated, I was out of sense and, touched a lady that night. So that was why my sin caught up with me. But, it was the Intervention of God. God wanted to arrest me.”
Things however took a different turn for him when he shared the same prison with former President Obasanjo. “I am eternally grateful because he stood as the hook that brought me out of the sea of sin into the marvelous world of Jesus Christ. It was in the prison that I told president Obasanjo my story. He embraced me and ensured I attended church service in the prison.
“I thank God because I’m really a born again Christian and also very grateful to Baba because he has interest in me and called me to Christ. While in prison, he calls me times without number when atimes, I feel like not going to church, yet; he would insist that we must go to church. Then from going to church, I was touched and God arrested me. I repented when I was in prison.”
Though Obasanjo left Baba Alli in the prison to later become the President of Nigeria, he kept on the good work by encouraging and sending Baba Alli to the Seminary after he finished serving his terms in prison in 2003. Baba Alli is now a Pastor in Salawa Baptist Church Naria, Kaduna State.
While sharing his testimony he said many armed robbers had also come to know Jesus through him. He then admonished everyone to live a life of holiness because without holiness, no man can see the Lord. “If God could forgive someone like me, there’s none God cannot forgive.” he submitted.
It will be recalled that President Obasanjo wrote a book on Gula titled the story of Baba Alli. The story was used for a stage play titled Gula which was premiered on Saturday, September 30th, 2017 at the Terra Kulture Arena, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The Executive Producer of Gula is Tunde Oduwole, while veteran actor/comedian, Tunji Sotimirin, who played the character Obasanjo in Gula!; Nollywood star Paul Adams, who played Baba Ali’s father, the Theater Director, Kenneth Uphopho, the Producer, Ayo Ajayi, were among other guests from the entertainment industry
Speaking at the event, the former President noted that Gula on Stage is replete with important lessons for families, government institutions, policy makers, institutions and governments. While in prison in Yola, Obasanjo said he selected a few inmates to interview in order to understand their journey to jail. He made efforts to influence and if possible, reverse their fast-tracked journey to self-destruction.
The Executive Producer, Tunde Oduwole described Gula as a story of courage, hope, taking responsibility and of second chance. He said in a published interview that, “while in incarceration, Obasanjo’s life was hanging in the balance but rather than allow fear, depression, self-pity, or loneliness to engulf him, Obasanjo in a display of rare human strength, took responsibility to understand why the prison was full of young people and thus was able to come to the help of Baba Alli”