A short video showing Apostle Johnson Suleman, Head Pastor, Omega Fire Ministries, ordering his followers during a sermon to kill at sight every Fulani herdsman they see near him or around the church premises, has been on social media especially WhatsApp for awhile. It is unfortunate. But he has denied it.
On Tuesday January 24, weeks after Suleman’s “go-and-kill” sermon, a team of armed men of the Department of State Security (DSS) had attempted to arrest him in a hotel where he lodged after a crusade in Ekiti State. Reportedly, he was rescued by Governor Ayodele Fayose whom he had telephoned as soon as he was alerted about his imminent arrest.
Fayose had attended Suleman’s crusade earlier that evening and swiftly moved in with his own armed security detail to the hotel premises in the dead of night. To avoid a bloody clash with the governor’s armed men, the DSS arrest team quickly dispersed and Fayose whisked Suleman to safety in Government House.
Speaking in Ado Ekiti on Wednesday, the day after his foiled arrest, Suleman said he only told his followers to always defend themselves anytime the church is invaded by gunmen. He denied ever telling Christians to kill Muslims.
“They said I preached in Auchi two weeks ago, that I was instigating Christians against Muslims. I have always been an advocate of peace and I can’t stay around and be saying such. There are widows, orphans we take care of . No leader will see his shepherd being killed and be happy,” Suleman explained.
This is what the said video contains…
Suleman: Somebody sent me a text and then called me. He said, “There is a plan to send Fulani herdsmen after you. They are going to rush into the road like herdsmen and cause confusion and while your security men are trying to clear them, clear them they will open fire… or they might bring them around the church premises. And I told my people (security detail) any Fulani herdsman you see around you, kill him… and I have told them in the church here; any Fulani herdsman that enters the church premises by mistake, kill him, kill him! Cut his head! If they are busy killing Christians and nothing is happening, we will kill them and nothing will happen. (Congregation shouts: Yes o!).
Aware that some folks in his congregation might find his order to kill preposterous, he continued…
Suleman: Apostle, why are you saying they should kill somebody? (Rhetorically he answered) Didn’t David kill Goliath?
While it is true that propaganda and outright lies now pervade our social media interactions, a close evaluation of the Suleman video doesn’t show any sign of it being doctored. Still, HAMILTONSTYLE leaves its error margin open and hope that Suleman will soon show proof that it wasn’t him or his voice or his congregation in the video which was conspicuously labeled ‘REBROADCAST’.
PUTTING THE SULEMAN SAGA IN PERSPECTIVE
The DSS attempt to capture Apostle Suleman like a common thief was infuriatingly wrong. He could have been invited or decently arrested, not because he is a popular pastor, but because every Nigerian deserves to be treated with respect and even at the point of arrest, must be presumed guilty until otherwise proven in court.
Fayose did well in saving Suleman from the gangster antics of the DSS and if they wish to interrogate him on this issue or indeed any other issue, he should be now be invited.
Within hours of the news of his foiled arrest hitting social media, a Nigerian based in the United States initiated an online petition meant to alert world leaders to secure Suleman’s release and protection. I got it by email, signed the petition and encouraged all my Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp contacts to do the same.
However, let us put this Suleman saga in perspective; not just because of him, but because of all of us.
Apostle Suleman was totally un-biblical and criminal in telling his congregation to KILL any Fulani herdsmen at sight. Thou shalt not kill is what both God’s law in Exodus and Nigeria’s Criminal Code say.
For this reason, the DSS agents did the right thing (but the wrong way) by moving in on Suleman. This should:
(1) Dissuade him from saying worse things to the mass of followers God has blessed him with.
(2) Discourage other ill-advised pastors from inciting their followers.
(3) Discourage potentially fanatic Mullahs and Imams from inciting Muslims too against Christians.
It is sad, very sad that we have an aged Fulani man, Muhammadu Buhari as President who is sacking Boko Haram terrorists for killing both Muslims and Christians, but rather than sack this criminal breed of Fulani herdsmen who are deliberately killing southerners instead of cows, he is dilly-dallying.
Suleman is educated. He is rich. He is iconic. He has a known face and name. The blood-letting Fulani herdsmen are not as consequential or influential. They have nothing to lose. He has too much to lose and therefore, he must stay on the right side of the laws of God and of his country Nigeria.
Indeed if he is the one in the said video and he gave those critical orders for his security detail and followers to commit murder and cut of people’s heads, he must be made to repent of it. What is wrong is wrong and two wrongs can’t make it right.
However, Christians must come out en masse to demand a stop to Fulani killings of Christians and southerners in Kaduna and elsewhere in Nigeria, as well as demand the protection of erring Suleman (just like the Muslims would do) and we must do so decently and legally, not because Suleman is justified in his error but because if we don’t protect him, Christian haters will seize the advantage.
Worse still, other clergy men would one day be arrested during sermons inside their churches and crusade grounds for saying much less than Suleman did. Nasir el-Rufai’s edict has already set the stage for that in Kaduna. Christians must act fast. But they must act within the ambit of the law. Christians are too docile and that’s why some folks think Suleman’s error is right. No, it isn’t.
THAT IS THE LOGIC √[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]