The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has vowed to defend Apostle Johnson Suleman, the founder and president of Omega Fire Ministry Worldwide following a foiled arrest by the country’s secret police on Tuesday, January 24, 2017.
CAN also criticised Vice President Yemi Osinbajo saying that his continued silence in the face of attacks on Christians by the Muhammadu Buhari regime was no longer “golden”.
In a statement on Friday, January 27, 2017, the Christian umbrella body in Nigeria described the planned arrest as “an attempt to turn Christians to refugees in their own country”.
“Apostle Suleman has become a refugee in Ekiti state as security operatives are said to be searching every nook and cranny of the state with a view to arresting him,” CAN said.
“If there is an urgent need to interrogate Apostle Suleman on any issue, it would only have been proper to extend a formal or informal invitation to him from the SSS rather than Gestapo approach used in the attempt to arrest him.
“It should be noted that under Nigerian Laws, he is presumed innocent until a court of law proves otherwise. Or have they extended the proposed obnoxious law that forbids religious preaching without the permission of the state governor down south too?
“Treating Ministers of God and our members as common criminals is unacceptable to the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN. Enough is enough,” the association said in its statement signed by the special assistant on media and communication to the CAN President, Bayo Oladeji.
The association lamented the government’s failure to address the cases of blasphemy killings in northern parts of the country, citing repeated cases of released suspects, without further arrests by the security operatives.
“The police have been releasing those who were arrested for the killing of our members in Kano and Kubwa (Abuja) while our leaders are being subjected to untold hardship for no just cause.
“It is high time the overzealous security agencies knew that Nigeria remains a secular state and any attempt to turn the country into a refugee camp for Christians will not be acceptable and will be resisted with every lawful means,” the statement said.
CAN described the actions of the controversial pastor as a “mere expression of his fundamental right, which every Nigerian is entitled to”.
“The last time we checked, Sections 38-41 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) states clearly that every Nigerian is “entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
“The Constitution states unambiguously that ‘Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference’.
“Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests:
“Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit there …,” the statement said.
The association condemned the killings in southern Kaduna, describing it as genocide.
Osinbajo Silence Not Golden
CAN accused Vice President Osinbajo not speaking up against attacks on Christians, saying his “studied silence is no longer golden.”
“We call on the acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to intervene in all the clampdown on the Church in Nigeria after all, he is in the office primarily to represent the interest of the Christians and his studied silence is no longer golden,” it said.
Fayose Foils DSS Arrest of Suleman
Fiery cleric, Apostle Suleman became the target of the State Security Services, SSS, also called DSS, after he announced in a church service on January 15, 2017 that he had receive intelligence that Fulani herdsmen terrorists had marked him for elimination and that they would strike under the cover of the their cattle rearing kinsmen.
He announced that he had ordered his security team to kill any Fulani herdsmen they see coming near his Auchi-based church.
“President Buhari’s silence on the genocide in Southern Kaduna has continued to fuel mutual recriminations and distrust among the diverse ethnic and religious groups in the country,” Suleman said in an earlier service on January 2 in the church’s headquarters in Auchi.
DSS operatives attempted to abduct him from his hotel room in the dead of the night in Ado-Ekiti, where he had gone to minister at a crusade which was attended by the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose.
Governor Fayose and a crowd of worshippers intervened and successfully foiled the operation.
Suleman’s ministry issued a statement saying that the cleric was only calling for self-defence in light of the threats that he had been informed of. He said that killing terrorist Fulani herdsmen who came to his church with the intention of killing him would only be self-defence.
Additional reports by Premium Times