Apostle Johnson Suleiman, the founder of the Omega Fire Ministries, has been released and has left the office of the Department of State Security Service (DSS), where he was interrogated by officials of the security agency.
Speaking in an interview with newsmen, Apostle Suleman’s spokesperson, Phrank Shuaibu, confirmed his principal was released before 11pm on Monday, January 30.
“The interviews have ended. We have left the facility just now. I will communicate the details later,” he said.
The cleric was questioned for statements he made asking his church members to defend themselves by killing Fulani herdsmen.
His spokesperson had earlier provided details of the interview.
“We arrived here (SSS office) this evening, at about 7 p.m. and the people to question him were not immediately available.
“The questioning began about 40 minutes ago. But we are sure that in a short while we will leave this place,” he told newsmen at about 10pm.
The security agency summoned the controversial cleric after a video surfaced showing him calling on his congregation to kill Fulani herdsmen to protect themselves.
Premium Times reports that over 200 people have been killed in clashes between Fulani herdsmen and local farming communities in Southern Kaduna. Similar violence in other states of Nigeria have also caused the death of hundreds of people.
The Southern Kaduna crisis has since taken a religious dimension despite warnings to the contrary by government officials and peace envoys.
Shortly after the video went viral, the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, prevented Mr. Suleman’s arrest in Ekiti when the cleric went for a program there.
The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, condemned the planned arrest describing it as a “ploy to turn the preacher into a refugee in his own country.”
“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,” the association said.
An invitation was later extended to Suleiman on Sunday to visit the office of the SSS in Abuja on Monday.
Speaking shortly after his arrival in Abuja, the cleric said the DSS acted lawfully by inviting him.
“I presume the right thing was done. They have been in touch with me to come and that is why I am in Abuja, so that I can see them,” he said.
In a similar vein, the controversial preacher, has denied fueling any religious war as being speculated in some section of the media.
The man of God said he was misquoted and misunderstood.
Speaking with AIT on Sunday night, he said he was referring to his security men after receiving information that some Fulani herdsmen would attack him.
Meanwhile, The Christian Youth Project (CYP) has stated that the General Overseer of Omega Fire Ministries (OFM), Apostle Johnson Suleiman, should not have been treated as a criminal by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
It condemned the continuous killing of Christians by Fulani herdsmen in northern Nigeria, especially in Southern Kaduna, stressing that injustice anywhere will be a threat to justice everywhere.
CYP, through its National President, Pepple Ibiwari Jnr., stated these yesterday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, during a news conference.
It said: “We (CYP members) strongly and unequivocally condemn in totality, the ridicule and public embarrassment of Apostle Suleiman by the DSS.
“Apostle Suleiman, being a religious leader and a public personality of high repute, should have initially been invited to clarify himself, as being done now and not treat him like a common criminal. Religious matters are very delicate. As such, should be treated with caution, to avoid misrepresentation of such actions on Christians.
“This should not be a new trend that has started with Apostle Suleiman, which may also be targeted at other Christian leaders. We call on Christians to be vigilant and security conscious, to avoid being victims of religious and hate attacks.
“The gospel of Jesus Christ advocates love and peace, not hate. As such, Christian youths do not conform to religious crisis or killings on any grounds.
“While we appreciate the DSS and other security agencies in ensuring peace and security in Nigeria, we call for intensified efforts to put a final stop to the continuous and increasing killing of Christians by Fulani herdsmen. We await the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators.”
The non-denominational coalition of Christian youths from churches, Christian organisations and groups across Nigeria also expressed displeasure at religious intolerance and hate speeches in Nigeria, while admonishing Christians not to be stupid or foolish.