The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on Friday has voiced its dissatisfaction over the silence of Acting President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on the harassment of pastors by security agencies.
In a statement issued on behalf of the CAN President Dr. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle by his Special Assistant (Media and Communication), Adebayo Oladeji, the CAN leader said of the VP “his studied silence is no longer golden.”
While threatening to resist any attempt to turn Nigeria to a refugee camp for Christians, the organisation condemned the harassment of the fiery pastor and General Overseer of Omega Fire Ministries Worldwide, Apostle Johnson Suleiman, by the Department of State Services in Ekiti State.
CAN also raised the alarm that Apostle Suleiman “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.”
Excerpts of the statement read:
“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.”
“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.”
“Why we have yet to recover from the genocide in Southern Kaduna by the murderous Fulani herdsmen and its attendant consequences, the Jigawa State Government began the pulling down of our churches with impunity.”
“As if that was not enough, some operatives from the DSS reportedly invaded a hotel in Ekiti on Tuesday where Apostle Johnson Suleiman and his team who were in the state capital for a crusade were lodging.”
“According to what we heard, they insisted on remaining in the hotel until Apostle Johnson Suleiman surrendered himself for arrest. But for the timely intervention of the management of the hotel and other well-meaning Nigerians around, the invasion could have resulted into bloodshed as the minister of God was there with some MOPOL men and officers. Apostle Suleiman 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.”
According to the organisation, if there is an urgent need to interrogate Apostle Suleiman on any issue, it would only have been proper to extend a formal or informal invitation to him by the DSS, rather than the Gestapo approach used in the attempt to arrest him.
“Treating ministers of God and our members as common criminals is unacceptable to CAN. Enough is enough! Despite all the promises made by Governor Nasir el-Rufai, none of those who were responsible for the killings of our members in the Southern Kaduna has been brought to book. Instead, 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 just no cause.”
Meanwhile, some pastors have said that there was nothing wrong in Apostle Suleiman’s comments that Christians should start retaliating any attacks or killings by Fulani herdsmen.
They said that if the Federal Government had shown seriousness in stopping the Fulani herdsmen crisis, the religious leader wouldn’t have asked his followers to defend themselves against the herdsmen.
The founder of Life Anchor Ministries International, Pastor Bayo Akinjiyan, said, “Even though I wasn’t at the programme where he preached, going by what was reported, I want to believe that what the Apostle was saying was that Christians should defend themselves and that there was nothing wrong with self-defence.”
“If somebody is coming to your house to kill you, you have the right to avoid being killed. As Christians, we don’t encourage violence, but I think a time has come that people need to be security conscious so they don’t die before their time.”