My grand father who served idols was a chief of my village. Although my father had become a Christian by the time I was born, he continued to take part in the cultural festivals and he did not forbid us from going to shrines to participate in the idolatrous activities even though he himself would not go into the shrine. He also joined in the brewing of the local gin called “mos” or “burukutu” in Hausa language. Although he had a Hausa Bible which he attempted to read occasionally, incoherently and loudly too, I never saw him go to church. He also had many wives and several children.
Although my father did not go to church, my mother took me to church on Sundays. As I was growing up, I did not find it difficult to believe that there was a supreme being called God. I was fascinated by the sky, the sun, the moon and the stars, and believed that some great Being must have created them. But who exactly this Being was I could not tell. I however quickly noticed that my zeal for the things of God was gradually growing. In primary six, I crammed the Hausa catechism from cover to cover, and had to trek from my village Lur, to Pankshin, a distance of about 28 kilometres to be baptized.
I passed the examination, and was baptized there and then. Indeed, I had only crammed without understanding. I did not know that by that baptism, my ‘original’ sins were washed away’ and I therefore, needed not to make any confession for that first time. The Reverend Father who baptized me was therefore surprised when I informed him that I wanted to make my first confession in order to take my first holy communion. The Reverend Father was kind, and I received the Holy Communion the following day, being Sunday. The experiences of baptism and the Holy Communion were so exciting that I felt as though I was already in heaven.
I then desired to become a catholic priest – a Reverend Father but my mother discouraged me. I was soon to discover that there was a great hindrance ahead. Much as I desired to live the Christian life, the more I was faced with resistance from within. The very things I hated to do were the things I found myself doing and the good things I wanted to do, I found myself unable to do. So on Sundays, I would go to church and on other days, I would find myself joining in idolatrous acts. I also prided on being a prince and would someday, become a chief.
My primary education was not particularly brilliant, as I had to repeat primary 7 in 1969. In 1970, I went to St. Murumba College, Jos and finished in June 1974. Things were really difficult then. I remember, I was rejected by my own cousin and a town’s man from staying with them in order to go to school. I remember the days of going to school without breakfast and lunch. I remember the weeks and sometimes months that I had to stay out of school for lack of school fees. On one occasion, I remember I fell from a Mango tree, where I and others had gone to steal Mangoes because of hunger. I remember, I and a friend were almost drowned in a river on our way back from school (By the way, St. Murumba College was a day school). Our books were carried away by the water but God saved us. We didn’t know it was God then. However, suffice it to say that looking back, I can say confidently that God indeed overlooked the times of ignorance.
The only paper I passed at the West Africa School Certificate (WASC) Level was Bible Knowledge, A3. I later studied at home and passed the required papers to study Diploma in Law which I did from 1979 -1981. I passed the Diploma examinations at credit level which qualified me to enroll for LLB from 1982 -1985 and was called to bar in October, 1986. But God is faithful; even though I did not know this God.
I soon drifted away from Christianity and rather became antagonistic towards Him. I started questioning the rationale of some of God’s words. For example, while in Lagos for my Law School, two of my friends and I would sit round table over beer and discuss the issue of God’s word. One of my friends, we called “Exhibit JAM” would argue that God could not be that wicked to throw him into hell fire when out of ten Commandments, his only problem was women (adultery). According to him he scored 9/10 which was an excellent grade. My second friend, called “Exhibit T.Y”, would admit that he fell far below standard. The only way out for him, he reasoned, was to sin the more to make God so angry that He (God) would fling him with so much force that he would go over the bar of hell.
For myself, my argument was that God would not be serious about one man one wife because “man no be wood”. And that God wouldn’t be fair to the ladies if all men were to marry only one wife. Who would marry the rest? I would querry. I also was uncomfortable with the issue of alcohol. My argument was that since God created it, he could not at the same time ban it. Thirdly, I would argue, how God could love only the Christians, and throw others into hell fire when He created them all. On the whole, we would conclude that the dos and don’ts were human creations since mere human beings wrote the Bible therefore, the “errors” were theirs.
My working career started with my being employed by the then Judicial Department, High Court of Justice, Benue – Plateau State on January 8, 1975 as a Clerical Assistant. I rose to the rank of Senior Registrar, Litigation in 1987. In 1988, I was appointed a Magistrate and steadily rose to the rank of Chief Magistrate in 2000. Meanwhile in August, 1999, I was appointed Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, where I served from August 1999 to December, 2001. In February, 2002, I was appointed Chief Registrar of the High Court of Justice, Plateau State. And in December, 2005, 1 was appointed a Judge of the High Court of Plateau State.
By 1987, I had become a runaway from God. I hardly went to Church. Drunkenness and womanizing were the order of the day in my life. I was in this state when I was invited to one of the Breakfast Meetings of the Full Gospel Business Men’s fellowship International (FGBMFI) in 1987. I must confess that I was not prepared for what I saw. I had gone for the meeting expecting to hear about business opportunities but I saw people (there) falling down, and heard others crying and shouting in a strange language. Even though I came out to be ministered to, I made sure that I did not do anything “foolish” such as falling down. No wonder I went back home without any impact and back to more sin.
However the more I sought for enjoyment and pleasures, the more void and empty I found myself. Right inside of me, I knew I was getting rotten but I had no solution. I did not know how to get out of the problem of womanizing. At a point, I thought that taking my wife to Church for marriage blessing would scar away my girl friends. I was wrong. Some of them even sponsored some aspects of the celebration. And on the day of the marriage blessing, satan made sure that I broke the marriage vow, that same day!
At times, I would be very serious and remorseful about my unfaithfulness and sins. How could I continue to tell lies to my wife that I was going for official work ‘outside station’ only to be hiding with a lady somewhere at a corner of the city? How could I be succumbing to the dictates of a lady but could not have regards for my wife? I became restless. I went to my spiritual leader to demand to know whether there was no power that could break the life of deceitfulness I was living but the solution he gave me was that I continue the weekly confessions on Saturdays to prepare one to be in “state of grace” to receive Holy Communion the following Sunday!
On Sundays, I would become holy and sanctimonious. But alas! as soon as the Church service was over, I would be back to square one. The question that kept nagging my heart was, what happened if I died on Monday or on another day other than Saturday evening and Sunday morning?
Somehow, my attention was drawn to I Corinthians 6: 9 -10 that states that “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God”.
I knew that I was almost all of the above and at that point, I remember kneeling down and all I could say was, “Lord help me.” It was as if that was what God was waiting for.
Few days after this I received an invitation to another FGBMFI Breakfast Meeting. Although I remembered the experience of 1987, something inside of me told me that that was the place I needed to go. This time, I was prepared – indeed very prepared even to roll on the ground if that would free me from my predicament.
The date was 1st December, 1990. I attended the breakfast meeting in company of my friend “Exhibit JAM.” We heard the testimonies of others who were delivered from similar bondage of sin. The preacher droved the point home and made an altar call. We rushed out but not without the inner struggle. One voice reminded me that I was a Magistrate, and asked what people would say. Thank God, I came out.
The burden of sin was lifted off me. I remember I wept like a baby for joy. A kind of peace I had never experienced came over me. From that time onward, I could read the Bible and understand. I began to mix the word of God with faith and it brought results such as the healing of the ulcer I had for fifteen Years. Also, God restored peace to my marriage. Professionally, all the promotions I had, including becoming a High Court Judge, are all gifts from the Lord.
The Lord has also helped me to decide very knotty cases. For example, there was a case of a young man who was brought before me for breaking into ex-governors’ houses. I was initially angry and began to abuse him. Suddenly, the Lord told me to shut up as He did not bring him to me to abuse him but to reform him. The Lord touched him. He admitted the crime, and was sentenced accordingly. I followed him up and today, he is a pastor.
Within three months, I and Exhibit JAM had become preachers. We would go for village evangelism on weekends. We had found the solution and we thought others should know of it too. We have discovered that the secret of true happiness was Jesus in the inside of you. People must know this truth, and the truth will set them free.
I then recalled my childhood ambition to become a Reverend Father. It was too late for me to become one now. So I decided that I would become a Reverend without the “father”. I bought a form to go to Theological School and to eventually disengage from the Judiciary. It was at this point God asked me a question: “What is the meaning of your name, Daniel?” I recalled that I had chosen the name Daniel not because I knew its meaning, but because some how, I wanted a “D” to match with the “D” in Danjuma, my first name. I wanted D.D. to be also interpreted as Doctor of Divinity – not even knowing what that meant.
Well, I checked for the meaning of Daniel and found out that it meant God is a Righteous Judge. I was pleasantly surprised. God had made me a Judge even from my mother’s womb. It was wonderful and marvelous in my sight.If God had made me a judge from the outset, there was no need to quit the judiciary. So, I then dropped the idea of going to theological school, and instead, concentrated on my work as a Magistrate which led me to become a High Court Judge now.
Meanwhile, I got to understand, after I had been born again, that my faithful, virtuous and wonderful wife had always been praying and fasting for the salvation of my soul all through my years of infidelity and I didn’t know it. One thing that I however knew and observed was her chaste behavior. She was very submissive and tender (she still is) even when I would come back home late and drunk.
Hon Justice Longji who was an usher at the 2007 Jos regional convention of the FGBMFI, is a Judge of the High Court of Plateau State, Nigeria. Justice Longji also run a prison ministry. He is a member of the FGBMFI, Jos Plateau State.