Christians, Stay Away From The Planned Protests & Pray For Nigeria - Suleman
Agents from Department of State Security (DSS)—or SSS as they are popularly known—made an attempt to arrest ‘Apostle’ Johnson Suleman few days back at Ado-Ekiti based on his inciting speech before a congregation where he asked his followers to “kill any Fulani herdsman seen close to his church”. The attempt was foiled because Suleman got wind of it, panicked and cowardly called for the assistance of the state governor, Fayose. The governor protected him and lambasted the DSS saying that it should rather invite Suleman to its office than attempt to arrest him in public.
I agreed with Fayose on this point. And so did the DSS. News has it that the DSS has asked the apostle of murder to report at its Abuja office by 10am tomorrow, Monday, 30 January 2017. This is a good development for any peace loving Nigerian, including Fayose and guys like me. The law is about to take its course. It will ask Suleman to defend himself against the inciting video and either prosecute him if it finds sufficient ground to do so or let him go if it does not find any need to do so. It may even just warn him against such statements, reminding him of his position of ‘apostle’ who should be preaching peace rather than violence. In the end, we may even see Suleman convert into an apostle of love, who condemns the killing of innocent herdsmen and Christians as well.
But while peace loving Nigerians see nothing with the DSS invitation, there are some architects of violence, as expected, who want to shield Suleman from the law using primordial sentiments of religion. They claim that he spoke the minds of “all of us (Christians) and appeal to “every Christian” to “come out in a procession to accompany Apostle Suleman to the DSS office.” The message written by one Barr A, Tarere, which has been circulating among Christians in the country since yesterday, reads ad verbatim:
“URGENT !!! The DSS has invited Apostle Johnson Suleman to appear b/4 the Abuja office for interrogation by 10 am on Monday 30/1/17. Let every Christian come out in a procession to accompany Apostle Suleman to the DSS office. He spoke for us all. We stand against the shameful silence of Nigerian government over killing of Christians in Nigeria; intimidation/ harassment of the church with state security agencies and the Islamic Agenda of this regime. United we stand & Together we will win this battle. Christians awake!!!!! Pls forward this invitation to every contact and God will fight your battles in Jesus name. Barr. A. Tareri”
Well, I am not against Christians accompanying Suleman to the DSS office. It is their constitutional right. However, I am against the false premise on which the call is made—the short phrase: “He spoke for all of us”. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Suleman did not speak for all Christians in Nigeria, Barr. Tareri. He spoke for himself and for the bloodthirsty murderers that welcome his call for killing the innocent. I believe that there are many of my Nigerian Christian brothers who still believe in the Biblical commandment “Thou shall not kill”.
Yes. Searching through reactions to Mr Tarere’s call on Facebook was sufficient to prove him wrong. For example, one John Obienu said, “He should go and carry his cross alone. He didn’t speak for Christians. He has no right to… I don’t know him. He is on his own.” Replying Obienu, Michael Omole said, “…I agree with you that the Apostle is wrong on this one, his message on the Fulanis can never be of Jesus Christ.”
I will implore the Christian community to ignore Mr Tarere’s message if it means to support Suleman’s call to murder and shield him from the law. It should allow the authorities to call the likes of Suleman to order. It always pays to allow the law to take its course. Any society that protects criminals does so at its own peril because such criminals become its nemesis. By this invitation, the DSS is doing the Christian community and Nigeria a very good job. We have learnt this lesson on many occasions in Nigeria. Here, I will like to give two examples from the Muslim and Fulani communities.
Throughout the Obasanjo era, Boko Haram was allowed by the authorities to spread their ideology and obtain pardon when they attacked a police station in Yobe under the name Nigerian Taliban in 2005 or so. The head of the DSS then, Mr Gadzama, was every vocal in security circles as to why a group would be allowed to pile weapons and openly defy constituted authorities. His call to nib them in the bud was ignored by the Obasanjo regime.
By the time Yar’adua wanted to take action on Boko Haram in 2010, it was too late and did it through crude force in violation of the law. The host community in Borno was also inexperienced in handling an issue of this magnitude which had no precedence. If the government were proactive, the community would have supported it. But when it was late and Boko Haram had even started killing individuals, parents and community leaders who were informants to security agencies, the public—which was not enjoying government protection especially as individuals—kept silent.
To worsen matters, Jonathan’s military chiefs were simply not serious in ending the crisis as we can now see. If the military chiefs had since 2012 resolutely applied themselves to the job as Brutai has now done, the crisis would have been over long ago. Instead, they chose to prolong it, stashing their bank accounts with billions of blood money while they allowed Boko Haram to run over military barracks, towns and swathes of land. Consequently, no society has suffered worse than the Northeast. This blunder also cost Jonathan his presidency.
In fact, that is why Muslims in Nigeria will hardly forgive Obasanjo and Jonathan over Boko Haram. The two did not create the group, of course, but they allowed it to proliferate and failed to be proactive in checking it. So it always pays to support the authorities in calling inciters like Suleman and his bloodthirsty supporters to order; otherwise, the lawlessness they incite will come to affect the Christian community in no lesser degree than it will affect Muslims. Boko Haram too started pointing its finger at Christians. However, in the end, the statistics of Muslims among its victims outnumber that of Christians by many folds. Two weeks ago, after bombing Muslims at Unimaid, Shekau released a video vouching to attack Muslims who do not join his struggle in mosques which the group has been doing anyway!
The second example is from a cluster of Fulani communities in one of the North-western states. With the recent introduction of kidnapping to Northern Nigeria from the East, a number of kidnappings started in their communities. Members of a family would be picked by a gang of youngsters who demanded for huge ransom money before the victims, who included girls and married women, were released. The family head would sell many cows before he could meet the demand. It was an easy substitute for cattle rustling that was looking cumbersome to the youths, many of whom started showing off wealth from unknown sources. To worsen matters, the police often released these youths just few days after their arrest. There was no light at the end of the tunnel for the ethnic communities. The authorities have failed them.
Eventually, push came to shove. The ardos—Fulani leaders—of the cluster athered and decided to stop the menace through a very ruthless way. Any youth involved in kidnapping will be killed regardless of his background, the leaders decided. And trust them. They carried out their resolution faithfully to the extent that even parents were turning in their sons. Within two months, the menace was over. Chapter closed. And they could sleep peacefully.
The Christian community should learn from this lesson. It must not support murderers of Muslims and preachers of hate and violence among its people. More important though is that it must not protect them when the law comes knocking on their doors. It should allow the law to take its course. If any preacher tries to rope in his community against the law, he must be resisted. Let him be told, “Look, we did not mandate you to preach hate or murder. Go and carry your cross.”
This message is not only for our Christian brothers that are now challenged by the cowardice of Suleman, who wants to hide behind the cover of the great religion of Jesus (May peace of God be upon him). It is for Muslims in Nigeria as well. Any preacher propagating hate or violence must be reported to the authorities by members of his faith and the law must be allowed to take its course. I am happy that the Muslim community has learnt its lesson as it became evident from its support for government to curtail the unconstitutional activities in the IMN of Sheikh Zakzaky. What we only condemned vehemently is the massacre of his followers and his continuous incarceration without recourse to the courts or—now—in violation of a court order. The Christians must do the same to the Sulemans among them. Only then will this country know peace.
For the records: if I publish any inciting post that warrants the DSS to invite me, I will honour the invitation without hiding behind Islam or roping in Muslims. I challenge Suleman to do the same.
Finally, let me assure Suleman that I am a herdsman. I have a herd and I take my cattle to graze in the fields. None of my Christian friends will kill me. As I drop my pen, I am right away going to play golf with about six of them, all from Southern Kaduna and Otukpo. What they are saying by not attacking me is simple: Apostate Suleman—the coward, you are on your own.Carry your own cross to the DSS headqaurters, jare.
May God bless those who share this message before tomorrow especially to our Christian brothers and sisters.