The founder of the Omega Fire Ministries, Johnson Suleman, has been released and has left the office of the State Security Service, SSS, where he was questioned by officials of the service.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Suleman’s spokesperson, Phrank Shuaibu, confirmed his principal was released before 11 p.m. on Monday.
“The interviews have ended. We have left the facility just now. I will communicate the details later,” he said.
Mr. Suleman 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 PREMIUM TIMES at about 10:00 p.m.
The security agency summoned the controversial cleric after a video surfaced showing him calling on his congregation to kill Fulani herdsmen to protect themselves.
“If they are busy killing Christians and nothing is happening, we will kill them and nothing will happen,” he said.
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 Mr. Suleman on Sunday to visit the office of the SSS in Abuja on Monday.
Speaking shortly after his arrival in Abuja, the cleric said the SSS 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.