Prominent Nigerians and organisations have kicked against the Department of State Service (DSS’) invitation of the Senior Pastor of The Omega Fire Ministries Worldwide, Apostle Johnson Suleiman over his order to his security men to go after any Fulani herdsman who attempts to kill him.
Apostle Suleiman had last week revealed that he was inundated with information that some Fulani herdsmen were planning to kill him and directed his security personnel to watch out for them.
After the order, operatives of the DSS attempted to arrest the fiery clergyman in a hotel in Ekiti State but their plan was aborted.
Consequently, the DSS invited him to appear before its operatives today at its headquarters in Abuja.
In a reaction to the DSS’ action, the Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, cautioned the DSS against provoking religious crisis in the country.
Fayose alleged that there is a plan to charge Apostle Suleiman for incitement and attempt to cause public disorder on Friday and make sure that he is not granted bail so as to get him remanded in Kuje Prison perpetually.”
He said that the plan was to humiliate the clergyman as well as create fear in other people that may want to speak against the heinous crimes against humanity being committed daily while the perpetrators are shielded by the Federal Government.
In a statement issued on Sunday by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Mr. Lere Olayinka, Governor Fayose said that the DSS should tell Nigerians how many of the Fulani herdsmen that killed thousands of Nigerians across the country had been arrested before going after Nigerians who merely expressed their frustration over the failure of the government to protect them.
The governor said that “even though the DSS has allowed common sense to prevail by properly inviting Apostle Suleiman as against the Gestapo manner with which the Service attempted to abduct him last Wednesday, it is still questionable that the DSS is more interested in a man who threatened to defend himself against any attack by Fulani herdsmen than the herdsmen who murdered thousands of Nigerians.”
Meanwhile, Apostle Suleiman, who is at the centre of the storm, has asked the Federal Government to compel Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai to produce the Fulani herdsmen to whom money was paid to disabuse the minds of Nigerians that Christians are not the target of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
The cleric, in a statement issued by his Communications Adviser in Abuja on Sunday, said that the government’s failure to compel el-Rufai to produce the herdsmen who purportedly collected money from the state government is an indication of the insincerity of the present administration.
Similarly, the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) has faulted the DSS’ invitation of Apostle Suleiman for questioning.
IPOB in a statement issued on Sunday by its spokespersons, Emma Nmezu and Clifford Iroanya, described the invitation as “hypocrisy and disdainful”.
The pro-Biafra group argued that DSS should have first invited President Buhari’s daughter, Zahra Indimi (nee Buhari); the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III; and Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State for allegedly making hate speeches in the past.
According to IPOB, persecuting Suleiman for merely asking Christians to defend themselves against barbaric attacks by Islamic terrorists while overlooking inciting comments by Muslims, portend danger to the peace and unity of Nigeria, especially in view of the volatile nature of issues bordering on religion.
Also at the weekend, the President of Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), Prof. Uzodinma Nwala, described the DSS’ action as a diversion of issues.
He asked: “Is the DSS saying that preachers should allow their adherents to be slaughtered by the herdsmen? They should not defend themselves? They should not divert issues. The killers should be exposed and prosecuted.”
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Chairman of the Labour Party, Rev. (Comrade) Joseph Ndirang, said that the state should not deny Nigerians their freedom of speech.
Ndirang said: “It is uncalled for, under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; there is freedom of speech. If there is anybody to be arrested, it is the Kaduna State Governor; he was the one who started the hate speech. He made us to know that he used the hard-earned resources of Nigerians to pay the Fulani people. Second, he was soliciting on their behalf, saying they were reacting to an earlier crisis. He gave them money to buy arms to kill people”, he said.