He runs away from “reform home”, joining a gang of pick-pockets, a motley crew of outcasts that accept him the way he is when he feels the world has turned it’s back on him. They plague the streets night and day until one act of drunken foolishness gets them all caught. Put behind bars over fowl, Gula becomes a hardened criminal in the very hole society locked him away in to fix him. Here, he meets a mentor by the name of Abdullahi, and they develop a twisted and wrong but powerful bond built on the desire to attain wealth quickly and laugh in the face of law and order.
Gula’s teacher promises him then and there that he will never see the bleak walls of prison again. When they are released, the dynamic duo go on to terrorize the streets, going from mere pocket pickery to full blown armed robbery. Gula learns to spill blood and tastes murder. When Abdullahi sacrifices himself for Gula’s escape, choosing death over re-incarceration, Gula is pushed over the edge. Here, figuratively, Gula dies, and Baba Ali is born, the demon that fears none and that all fear. Armed with juju and the capability to do anything, he does as pleases and takes what he likes, returning to his relatively harmless pick pocket gang as their leader, transforming them into a deadly force to be reckoned with.
His immunity to bullets and ability to disappear as long as he sleeps with no one but his wife emboldens and he, along with his crew, carry out some of the most dastardly escapades the North had ever seen. He marries a teenage girl who asks no questions and teaches her how to perform the special rituals that replenish his spiritual powers. Soon, he controls all the gangs on his side of the River Niger. He is sleeping with judges and has the judicial system in the palm of his hand until overconfidence gets him caught and he remembers the terms and conditions of his occult powers. Shot in the leg, he makes it to his father’s house where he is welcomed as a Prodigal Son but his uncle and a police officer under the guise of a doctor seal his fate.
Locked away for nine years, it is at his lowest point that Gula meets someone who changes his life, His Excellency himself, Olusegun Obasanjo. It was a period of second chances, for Gula, for Obasanjo, and for the nation. Nigeria has enjoyed an unbroken 16 year streak of peace and freedom from coups. The rest, as they say, is history, and Gula Theman is now an esteemed pastor.