OMEGA Fire Ministries general overseer Apostle Johnson Suleiman has been warned by the Department of State Services (DSS) not to grant anymore television interviews as his comments are inflammatory and could cite religious violence.
Earlier this month, Apostle Suleiman gave a controversial sermon in Auchi in Edo State, during which he asked members of his congregation to kill any Fulani herdsmen who came near his church. He said this in response to information that some herdsmen planned to kill him over his constant criticism of their ongoing battle with farming communities in southern Kaduna State that has resulted in thousands of deaths.
Following the clergyman’s comments, the DSS tried to arrest him during a recent sermon in Ado Ekiti and when that failed, he was invited to visit their offices for a chat. On Monday Apostle Suleiman visited the security agency’s offices in Abuja where he was directed to watch his tongue because of the importance attached to his messages by his followers.
During his interrogation by the DSS, on Monday night, Apostle Suleiman, who was accompanied by a former governor, was said to have been told that some unsuspecting Nigerians could cash in on his messages to cause havoc in the country. One security source at the DSS said that Apostle Suleiman was equally told by security operatives to know that his followership cut across Christianity and Islam and should therefore mind the way he speaks.
“We asked him why he made such a provocative statement and he defended himself. He said he made the statement based on available information that some herdsmen were planning to attack him and that he merely asked his church members to defend him and the church property.
“While we didn’t argue with him, we asked him to note that his followership cuts across the two dominant religions, which are Christianity and Islam. We also asked him to note that the federal government was doing its best to curtail the activities of the herdsmen and also fight crime generally,” the security source added.
According to the security source, Apostle Suleiman said that the government needed to do much more and that he was not out to cause religious crisis but was merely expressing his anger at the refusal to take action. During the conversation, both parties also agreed not to speak with the media on the outcome of the interrogation.
Apostle Suleiman’s spokesperson, Prank Shuaib, said the cleric was happy with the outcome of the interrogation. He added that it was a friendly interview that was devoid of any rancour and commended the DSS operatives because they exhibited the highest degree of professionalism during the interview.