Why we arrested, detained SaharaReporters’ publisher — Mountain of Fire & Miracles

Omoyele Sowore, Publisher, SaharaReporters.com

The Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, MFM, has responded to claims of molestation of two citizen journalists, saying that it monitors people’s movement in the church due to security challenges in the country.

In a reaction to the alleged molestation and detention of the publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore, and a Lagos-based citizen journalist, Segun O’Law; the MFM insisted that the church maintains an open door policy to journalists.

“In as much as we don’t want to join issues with the media organization, we hereby state our position as regards the issue for the benefit of the public,” said the statement signed by Oladele Bank-Olemoh, Chair of MFM’s Publicity Committee.

“MFM has an open door policy as regards the media as many journalists were accredited to cover the Cross Over night.

‘Not Accredited’

Both citizen journalists had stopped at the MFM’s headquarters at the Lagos-Ibadan expressway for the New Year Eve’s Cross Over service, one of the largest church gatherings in Nigeria.

As much as 25 journalists were accredited for the night and the programme broadcast live on the internet, Idowu Ajanaku, a member of the church’s Publicity Committee told PREMIUM TIMES.

The church’s statement went further to say that Mr. Sowore and his correspondent were allowed into the church despite not being accredited to film the service.

“The event was live on social media. Sahara crew never applied and was never accredited as one of the media organizations to cover the event,” said the statement.

“Nevertheless, they were allowed inside the prayer city to film the event, and the crew was only stopped when they went beyond the parameters allowed for media men.”

It is still unclear what exactly triggered the church’s task force officers to swoop on the SaharaReporters’ publisher, but Mr. Ajanaku said that it could be because he moved closer to the podium from where the General Overseer was preaching.

“In view of the security challenges facing the nation and body of Christ in particular, MFM has the right to monitor the movement of people in and around our church premises,” said the statement.

After the church’s security closed in on them, Mr. Sowore said that they were dragged to the back of the altar by a “mob” who threatened to smash their camera.

“The mob later handed us over to the police and the SSS operatives attached to the church,” said Mr. Sowore, days after the incident.

Can SaharaReporters barge into a Mosque?

The statement did not talk about the alleged four-hour detention of the journalists nor did it react to claims of running an “illegal detention security post” within the expansive ground.

But it did, however, question if the journalists could “barge into a Mosque to cover an event without permission?”

“Is Sahara which is based in The United States of America saying it does not know the normal procedure for covering an event?

“Can Sahara barge into an event in USA to cover without an accreditation?

“Therefore, we appeal to the media to respect the authority of the church just as our doors are open to media organizations in the discharge of duties.”

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