A pastor in Akwa Ibom State, Richard Peters, is advocating for capital punishment against critics of Udom Emmanuel, the Governor of the state.
“Any destructive criticism to any government is satanic,” Mr. Peters, a pastor with the African Church, wrote on Facebook. “And such person should be stoned to death.”
The governor’s success, Mr. Peters said, automatically translates to the success of every person from the state.
Governor Emmanuel “must succeed for eight years,” the 35-year-old pastor said.
The governor is just about two years in office and still has another two years before he will complete his first term.
Mr. Peters’ Facebook comment caused an outrage on the social media site, which prompted him to quickly backtrack.
“By stone to death, I mean such person should be shunned,” the pastor wrote.
The pastor later told PREMIUM TIMES that his comment was “a wake-up call” for Nigerians to give political support to the government at all levels, from federal, state to the local government, and even to the traditional chiefs in Nigerian villages.
He gave further explanation on what he meant by “stone to death”. “I was once an English student in secondary school and I was taught figures of speech. I was metaphorically saying that the person should be rejected,” he said.
Mr. Peters believes that the Akwa Ibom governor has been thoroughly and unfairly criticized, especially by people who felt that he was imposed on the state by his predecessor, Godswill Akpabio.
“For the mere fact that you don’t like somebody doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pray for his success,” he said. “But in Akwa Ibom we have one mentality if we don’t like a particular government we see the governor and everything about him in bad light.”
“Akwa Ibom people should change this mentality.
“The governor is doing is best for the people. And people should understand that it’s not possible for the governor to fulfill his campaign promises within one year.
“The APC government at the national level has not been able to deliver on the change they promised the people, yet I am still praying for them to succeed.
“Anybody that will come and tell me that (Governor) Udom has not performed, I will tell the person to go and sit down.”
Mr. Peters said there were several ways the church could reach out to the government “if there’s any part of government policies that has a negative impact on members of the church”.
Solomon Johnny, the editor-in-chief of Global Concord, a community newspaper in the state, called out the pastor for his controversial comment.
“You have committed an error. It can’t be beautified by any explanation,” Mr. Johnny said on Facebook.
“You have committed an error, a blunder that embarrasses your office as a ‘reverend’. Pull that comment down or edit it to expunge the provocative content.”
The pastor was yet to pull down or edit the comment as at the time of filing this report.
Governor Emmanuel early this year threatened to unleash militant youth on opposition elements who would dare to criticize his administration.
“If you use your appointment to come into the state and cause disunity, I can reassure you I have the full assurances of the youths, any idiot who will come forthwith to make any nonsense proclamation in the state, the youths will not let him go,” the governor had said in Uyo, the state capital, during a religious function to usher in the new year.
Akwa Ibom, though adjudged to be one of the most peaceful states in Nigeria, witnessed deadly violence during the 2011 and 2015 governorship elections.
Many people, mostly those in the opposition, were killed, maimed or kidnapped in the state during the administration of Mr. Akpabio.