Nigerian Freedom of Worship Upheld
THE enemies of Jehovah’s servants have ever brought false charges against them, as the Bible repeatedly shows. However, at times these false accusations have boomeranged, as in the case of Daniel. A modern example of the wicked digging a pit by means of false accusations and then falling into it themselves is here given as reported by the Society’s branch office at Nigeria, Africa:
“Because of their refusal to take sides in a land dispute and particularly because of their preaching activities, the small congregation of Christian witnesses of Jehovah at Ode Irele, Nigeria, became the victims of a conspiracy. Two were arrested and thrown into the local jail after a kangaroo court had convicted them on seven false charges. An urgent appeal for help was sent to the British district officer, who summoned the chiefs and the imprisoned witnesses before him for investigation.
“The accusations were examined. First, the refusal to pay taxes. To the consternation of his accusers the witness for Jehovah reached into his pocket and brought out his tax receipts for the past ten years. The charge was indignantly struck out by the officer. The second charge was that the brothers refused to join in community road building. Witnesses were called who testified that the two brothers were always first in reporting for such duty, and so that charge was struck out. The third charge was that of preaching against the government. ‘What have you to say to that?’ the officer asked the brothers. One replied: ‘You represent the government. If we were against the government, why would we appeal to you for help? We believe this government is one of the best at present and we are grateful for the freedom we enjoy under British rule; but we are bound to say that soon God’s government will be here, and that will be better than any other.’ In similar manner the remaining charges were dealt with and disposed of.
“Strongly rebuking the conspiring chiefs, the district officer demanded to know the real reason for this conspiracy. Then the truth came out. Many people were getting interested in the message that the Christian witnesses of Jehovah were bringing to them, and as a result church attendance and contributions were falling off. ‘We do not want Jehovah’s witnesses in our town,’ the chiefs said. The district officer then explained to them that they were living under a democracy where freedom of worship was guaranteed. ‘I give you permission to drive Jehovah’s witnesses out of your town,’ he said, ‘on one condition. First you drive out the Catholics, then the Baptists, then the Methodists and all the others. Then, when you have done that, you have my permission to drive out Jehovah’s witnesses last.’ He furthermore forbade them to try any more cases involving Jehovah’s witnesses in their native court, insisting that any charges against them be brought before him personally. In conclusion he stated, ‘I will not entertain any more complaints against Jehovah’s witnesses for the next six months.’
“Then things began to happen. Greatly crestfallen, the head chief returned to his new car to go back home, but he was unable to get it started. Mechanics were called but they were unable to help and the car remained stranded for three weeks. Back home the chiefs found that the prison wall where the brothers had been incarcerated had collapsed, and at the native court, where the conspiracy had been hatched, they found that the roof had fallen in. Now the brothers are planning to build a new Kingdom Hall, for since the trouble started the number of witnesses for Jehovah in Ode Irele has increased from sixteen to ninety-three.”