He was murdered. After about seven days of inquiry into his ‘death’ and sundry issues, his relatives went to the mortuary with a coffin to take his body but were shocked to find him alive. Lazarus Oluwafemi Agbolahan Makinde, now an evangelist, tells Sam Nwaoko his story.
To hear him, especially through the telephone receiver, you must be determined and very patient. The first time this reporter called him, the impression that initially came through as the voice was barely audible, was that he must have been tired out or had some ailment. It was indeed difficult deciphering the near whisper.
On meeting him, he came through as a very happy man, and the way he carried himself made that obvious. However, speaking with him explained the cause of the piteous voice quality… His throat was slashed; his head smashed and his genitals were severed in a bizarre murder act. But he is alive to tell the story! And to work on the astonishing story he told in Egba variant-tinted Yoruba language made it even more engaging, considering the fact that he had no western education.
Evangelist Makinde’s joy at being alive and able to bear children came through as he struggled to be heard and understood. And this explains his eagerness to tell his story over and over again.
I was named Oluwafemi Agbolahan by my parents and I think I was in my late 20s when this incident happened. I want to trace the origin of the incident to members of my paternal family. My father directed that I should go to Kaduna to be trained by one of his sons, as a panel beater. He is a step-brother. I served him for seven years instead of the three years that was normal for that kind of training. Eventually, he agreed to grant me freedom. My father came for the ceremony with my mother, one of his friends, my immediate younger brother and his first daughter, who is also a step-sister.
In the night after his arrival in Kaduna, he called a meeting of the family members to discuss how to buy tools for my start-off. The seniors replied my father that the name ‘Agbolahan’ he gave me was their source of anger and that ‘Agbolahan’ should buy the required tools for me. So, I found out there in Kaduna that I had been under their anger since I was an infant.
My father left Kaduna in agony and cried all the way back to Abeokuta. He died with that as a heavy burden in his heart but before then, he prayed for me but warned that I should be prepared for battles ahead in my life. He also charged me to be ready to persevere, as he stated that I would overcome.
Life in Lagos
Months after, I left Kaduna on the invitation of one of our family members. I was told that a job had been secured for me in Lagos, but when I came over there was no job and with time, I found out that they only wanted to take me away from Kaduna. With months of nothing to do, I decided to move to my aunt’s from where I joined a mechanic workshop at Idi Oro (in Mushin), Lagos as a ‘journey-man’.
While working there at Idi Oro as a journey-man, I saved money and bought tools with which I started my own business at Fadeyi (in Yaba). At Fadeyi, things got better. I was doing very well and my business was flourishing, so much so that I had several apprentices and mechanics that joined me as co-workers. We even registered our company as a limited liability company. It was all rosy to the glory of God and we had numerous big companies, including ITT that did business with us.
Soon after, I got married. My wife and I moved to Oke Odo; we got an apartment at Abeokuta Street (the area known as Pleasure). Oke Odo community is after Iyana Ipaja in Lagos. Before the incident, my wife had travelled to our native Abeokuta to visit my mother.
On the fateful day, two of my journey-men came to me and said they would like to go to my house with me and would sleep in my house. I asked them why and they both said their brothers had visitors. I told them I would not be driving home as I had intended to preach in the bus I would board… I was rounding off a three-day fast. Nevertheless, we went home together.
When we got home, I made three cups of tea and I went out to buy bread so we could eat from the stew my wife had prepared before she travelled. They said they were okay but I insisted. On my way, a neighbour, who is also a member of our church, and my landlord’s wife saw them and asked who my visitors were and I told them they were my co-workers who had come to pass the night in my house.
While I was away, they had added something to my tea and without knowing this I blessed the tea and drank. I passed out. In that state of unconsciousness, they slit my throat with a knife and removed my Adam’s apple, smashed my head so much that my brain could be seen and also cut my genitals. They took my money, locked me in the room and went away, leaving me for dead. And to think that they were my employees I was paying. One of them was Lukman Osunbiyi of Arigbajo near Ifo in Ogun State.
After some days, a foul smell had enveloped our yard and our neighbour’s. A neighbour known as Baba Isaac was the one that raised the issue of what was smelling because my room was adjacent to his. People were searching their rooms to find it. My room is on the way to the conveniences of our compound and our landlord was the one that found out that the smell was coming from my room. He called his wife, Mummy Moji, and asked what could be smelling in my room, ‘has he got dogs?’ The woman said she knew I had no dog. The man said they should send for my relations but they called our church members.
When the church members arrived at the scene, they said they could not break the door. So, they went and fetched my brother who was at Itire-Ijesha, known as Brother Kunle. He was the one that drove to Area G police station at Ogba. The police came, demanded for the duplicate key to my room from the landlord and he told them he could not lay his hands on the spare key. The police broke the door and they found my body in a pool of blood in the room… After four days.
This was late in the night of the fourth day. They took me to Idi Araba (Lagos University Teaching Hospital) and they were told to go and bury me. They went to Island Hospital, I was rejected; they went to Igbobi and they also rejected me there. I was eventually deposited at the Ikeja General Hospital mortuary. On the seventh day after the incident, members of our family went to Ikeja to retrieve my body. They went with a coffin, but the Almighty God had some point to prove. I was stacked with other dead bodies and when they got to me, they saw that I had raised my left hand and was waving it.
There was shouting and commotion at the mortuary. They took me into the hospital for treatment. I noticed that the doctors were confused as to where to start from or what to do. They had cut my throat and severed the oesophagus, my head was wide open while my manhood was dangling. But God raised one of the doctors, a white man named Daniel, through whom my rehabilitation commenced at the Ikeja General Hospital. He was the one who began some repairs of my throat and head. But it was difficult because the throat was gone, it is a cartilage and could hardly be sewn; while my head could sustain nothing and was gushing.
But somehow, he managed to cut an opening though the base of my neck and created a duct through which I was fed and given medicines. Breathing was a huge task, given the wound and the pain. And remember, my genitals were severed and suture was also nearly impossible.
There were lots of plastic holds and bandages on my neck and others… it was a sight to behold. I was later transferred to the ward.
It will interest you to know that while I was there in the ward, God appeared to me on two different occasions and said: “I am the Lord, your God. I have a task which you must accomplish.” After four days in the ward, all the pipes on me were removed by God knows who. Yes, my eyes were open but I could not see. It is needless to say that I could not talk. How and when the pipes were removed, I did not know. I kept hearing a voice telling me: “Am I not your God?” Amid that voice, the plastic and other things on my head were removed. When the nurses and others saw what had happened, there was commotion. They were asking who removed the things. They thought I had died and were confused.
When Dr Daniel arrived, he saw what had happened and exclaimed that he had never seen such a thing before. Eventually, they took me back to the theatre. He tried to replace the pipes and so on.
So, were there arrests after you came back to life?
When the news spread that I had resurrected, one of the persons that killed me committed suicide. The man’s was known as Olumide Timilehin. Lukman Osunbiyi ran away. I was told I could not procreate because my genitals had been severed. Secondly, the doctors also said that my brain was gone and that I would just be kept in a place and be fed and that I would not speak. I was passed as vegetable. It was such a difficult period. But God had some other plans.
One day, as our pastor was walking towards me and I just called out his name… I mean Pastor Oke, who was our pastor then at Christ Freedom Evangelical Ministry. That was the day I regained my voice and began to talk again. It was a great day of joy. In fact, when my mother heard what had happened, she walked to Ikeja, almost naked, to see for herself. Even after that incident, I still remained rooted to a spot, immobile.
While there, I kept hearing the police and the people talk about Lukman. The police asked me if I knew where he lived and I said I knew the place in Mushin. They asked if I could see and I said yes, just put me in the vehicle. When we got to Lukman’s residence at Mushin, we were directed to where he was at play. When we arrived at the place, they crosschecked his face with that in the photograph they had and saw that it was him truly. He attempted to jump over the fence but he was arrested by the policemen and my family members.
They accused him of murder and the matter was taken to court. It was during the hearings in court that Lukman revealed how they came about committing the murder. He spilled the beans, and revealed those who paid them to kill me. He said it was my half-brothers that paid him and Olumide to kill me in my room. There also, one of my brothers admitted that they agreed among themselves, and with Lukman, to just waste me.
Was Lukman jailed or what?
Towards the end of the matter, pointers were that Lukman and others could be sentenced to death as that was the submission of the state which was prosecuting the case. On one of the hearing days, I raised my hand and requested to speak. When I was given the opportunity, I asked that the matter be left for God to judge. I said I wouldn’t want to see them killed by the cause of this case. At some point in the matter, members of the family of Lukman came to my family and offered me N2million then, begging me to forgive their son and spare his life. They came through my relations and expressed disappointment in their son and brother. They were sorry and wanted to compensate me, but I said I did not need the money. I told them that it was God that brought me back to life and I therefore leave everything to Him.
Was that when your ministry began?
When God called me back to life, I struggled with Him about going into full time evangelism work. I totally refused to embark on evangelism as a vocation. As a matter of fact, I craved to go back to my workshop. I really wanted to continue with my trade. But God persisted that I must do His work because that was why He restored me to life. He was insistent and I had to give in. I went to a Bible school for three years and was certified. My ministry also got registered.
When did you begin full time ministry
That was in 2008. I left every other thing for full time evangelical work in 2008.
How long did it take you to full recover your strength, etc.?
The question should have been how I bore children after I was told I’d never bear children because my genitals were damaged. That is a powerful testimony. I had even encouraged my wife to leave following the realisation, but she said she was stuck with me and would go nowhere. This was after I had become stronger. After some years, I was asleep at about 5pm when God appeared to me and assured me that he was God. He said he wanted to make me an example for the world. He stroked my body. One day, I went to urinate when I noticed life in my genitals. I called my wife to tell her about this and she was filled with joy and kept shouting halleluiah and attracted neighbours.
Our first children were twins. Kehinde came with a scar on his head while Taiwo had a scar on his neck. The two of them are currently on government scholarship and are outside the country. A senior member of the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) helped in this regard and he took my twins with him overseas. After the twins, we had other children and there are all forms of help coming from all kinds of people. Some of them also have some scars too. I thank God and people of goodwill who have been supporting me and my family.
Between 1984 when this incident happened and 2008 and now must have been quite an experience
You are very correct. Even up till now, I cannot walk a certain distance and sometimes, until you get very close, I cannot recognise you. I used to be fair but I wouldn’t know if it was the effect of the mortuary that changed my complexion. I still feel pains on my neck and I can hardly raise my head. When I dip my finger in the wound in my head, I still touch oily liquid, especially when the day is hot. It has not been easy and I went through a lot.
Before you began your ministry, how were you feeding and sundry things?
People always rallied round me and for this I am very grateful to God. There were so many drugs given me at the Ikeja General Hospital by the government then and I always had food in various flasks people gave to me. I wouldn’t eat very hot things and I mostly eat fluids, like tea.
Between the incident and your evangelical work, how did you cope, how did you live?
At the Bible school, I was pampered by the authorities of the college because they knew my story. After each day’s work, the leaders would take me in their car to my residence. As a matter of fact, I will say God had just perfected His work in my life.
Where is your ministry?
It is itinerant. I work around the country. They invite me to programmes and I evangelise and minister to people. We have numerous kings around Yoruba land who have accepted Christ following my testimony.
So, what has the response been like to the work of evangelism you are doing?
It has been awesome. There have been numerous testimonies of God’s prowess in dealing with peoples’ problems and situations. I really thank God for the opportunity. There are people who would just call to tell of their testimonies. Sometimes, I run home to rest because it is always crowded wherever I am. As a matter of fact, people now know me more as Lazarus because of the incident, way beyond the names given me by my parents. Reconciliation and Liberty Church in Akure has always been inviting us to minister. It has been awesome.
So, your life is a thanksgiving?
Yes, and I do a yearly special thanksgiving at my church. People come from far and wide to rejoice with me. They had marked the spot where the grave would be dug; they had come to the mortuary to carry my body at the General Hospital, Ikeja, then they saw that I was alive. So, why won’t I be grateful?
Was it in that same August that Lukman was arrested?
He was arrested when I had regained consciousness. I was among the team that went to where he was arrested.
Do you remember how long you stayed at the hospital?
God is so great and He is worthy of our worship. Each time I remember the incident and the fact that God Almighty had perfected His plans for me, I shudder. I doubt it if I spent up to one month at the hospital! I also marvel at this, but this is one of the ways God proves to the world that He had finished His work. Even though eating food is still a difficulty as a result of everything, even up till now, I still thank God for what He has done with my life. I move around with flasks and I still feel pain on my neck and my head is such a pit…
With the pains, don’t you feel discouraged sometimes in doing your evangelism work?
No, because God Himself, who gave me the assignment has provided the wherewithal to execute it. In fact, He is doing it Himself.
When you were at Fadeyi…?
I was at Fadeyi… they said I could not work and had to ferry me to the workshop because of peoples’ vehicles that were there. I could neither walk nor work. My wife went to visit my mother at Owode near Abeokuta
What about your relations who you said were behind this?
A lot has happened between then and now, all of which I cannot possibly tell. God Himself has been my vengeance and He has avenged for me in so many ways. God has been the one in charge so much so that even the dead ones among them haunted the others; they experience nightmares and tell of themselves. One of them had come several times to beg me, asking for forgiveness in every way. They told me that wherever they go to, they were told to go and seek forgiveness from the man they killed. I have handed over everything to God, I have no power of my own. They beg me always. People must not do evil; do no evil for the repercussions are sure.
So, you are into full time evangelism and you feed therefrom?
Yes and God has been faithful.
Are there any of your children into evangelism?
They are in school. So, what I do is take any free one of them along.
What is your advice to people?
Anyone that has Christ has it all… Anyone that has Christ and believes in Him, and does the will of God. He says we are the temple of God and that He would fight for us. He is that one that fought for me because we are more than conquerors because of He who loves us. That is my story. I didn’t even tell you about my tongue that I bit so hard when I was struggling with death… I almost bit my tongue into two in the struggle for life.
The address is Abeokuta Street at Oke Odo, in Pleasure area. There is a Cherubim and Seraphim Church in front of the place. The people there would tell more than I have because they saw it all.