Apostle Suleman: From pulpit to Golgotha?
Apostle Johnson Suleman’s name is fast becoming a household one, as it keeps coming up in recent public discourses.
Suleman who trained as a mass communicator and had his time as a journalist with Tell Magazine amongst others, pastors the Omega Fire Ministries headquartered in Auchi, Edo State, Nigeria.
The pastor, born of a Muslim father, in an interview had said he used to be a dignified cultist, and comes from a home of separated parents. “Any child from a home like that is bound to fall into the streets,” he said of himself, adding that he got into school and wanted acceptance somewhere.
“Someone told me that there is something called brotherhood and that I would be accepted as a family member and I liked it. I didn’t know there was a beating part and being taken to the bush.
“I didn’t like that. But you have to go into it. What I always avoided then was the assignments. I was just like a floor member. I would go to meetings and when assigned to do something and I couldn’t, I had to look for someone to do it and pay for it. I was not really happy but I was there.”
The Apostle, when on a preaching tour last year to South Africa and Rwanda, told an interviewer that he rejected a plane gift because God told him the giver was not pure. “You may have seen the pictures of the jet on the internet. In fact, I collected it. But when I prayed over it and found out that the source of the giver’s wealth wasn’t sincere, I politely turned it down,” he said.
At the time, he stood out amongst some top Nigerian pastors who owned private planes. Similarly putting his name in a good light, were reports of his generosity. One Victor Uzochukwu Umani, a member of his church, was a beneficiary of a Nissan Xterra car and N500,000 cash, during the church’s Sunday service sometime in January this year.
At the service, Suleman said, “Pastors should have investments. Apart from ministering, pastors should emulate Paul the Apostle, Acts 18; 1-3. Pastors should have other things doing in order to avoid the shame of milking their church members. That’s why I’m into a lot of investments.”
He explained that he was called to minister and to deliver, adding that he had to go into investments so he can help his church members and won’t need to look to them for survival. “All the cars I give, I buy from my pocket. The money I give is my personal money from my various businesses. My church has more than 500 choristers, I pay the school fees of more than a quarter of them. Many of the congregation I pay their rents. What I spend on my members in a week doubles what the ministry realizes in a month, and the tithe I pay to the church every Sunday is equal to the tithe the church members pay in two Sundays. This is just to tell pastors to strive to help their members not milking them”, he counsels.
In the same vein, international gospel artist, Dr. Chris Morganalso got a brand new Mercedes matrix from the Oracle of God—as Suleman is fondly called.
Suleman, over the years, has been known to always dish out ‘prophesies’ around big names which has thrown him into sorts of controversies. Some have dismissed his prophesies as mere predictions, while some hold onto them, and seriously wait for them to be fulfilled.
At the time the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, started seeking a law that will ban preaching in the state unless such a preacher obtains permission from the government, Apostle Suleman came for the governor in unsettling prophesy or maybe, a declaration.
Describing the governor as Herod of Kaduna, the Apostle said, “His days are numbered. It has started with slap, watch out for what will happen. I am not a rabble rouser, neither am I running my mouth. In the 1999 constitution, chapter four under the fundamental human rights, section 38; it says that: every one has the freedom of thoughts, conscience and opinion and they are very free to exercise their religion either in a community, in public or in private. In public means putting the speaker anywhere.
“That means he is going against the nation. He is going against the constitution. The Herod said he did it in Abuja and nothing happened. He entered a Christian community in Kaduna and demolished the place and nothing happened. If I be a man of God, the Herod of Kaduna will die.”
Months later, Suleman was visited by men of the DSS who alleged that the Apostle had called on his followers to kill any Fulani man who comes around them.
As though troubles had queued up for the preacher, not too long after his case with the DSS, a Canadian-based singer, Stephanie Otobo accused him of breach of promise of marriage, having slept with her serially.
“Most of the times we spent together, we had sex,”Otobo told journalists in Lagos. She further claimed that the Apostle, being her lover, sent money to her on few occasions.
The embattled preacher, through his Church, denied the allegations in a statement released almost immediately. The Church, however, confirmed that indeed, in the Apostle in his usual way of giving, had sent money to Otobo and claimed that their pastor had never met with the woman.
Upon Otobo’s revelation, reports emerged that Nollywood actress, Daniella Okeke, may have gotten her Mercedes-Benz GL450 and her Maryland house from Apostle Suleman whom some alleged is one of his numerous girlfriends. Okeke has however denied the talks and threatened those who peddled it with a lawsuit.
In the wake of all of these, the Apostle has pointed at el-Rufai as the enemy behind these allegations against him. He claimed that the Kaduna governor is after him because of his stance against the killings of Christian in Southern Kaduna. “It is clear that Mallam Nasir El-Rufai is the mastermind of these allegations,” a statement from the Apostle’s spokesman read.
“The masquerade has been unveiled and is now dancing naked in the market Square. We don’t need to look any further for the source of the smoke,” he added.
Connecting the dots; it could be true that Apostle Suleiman genuinely gives from his own purse and not that of the Church to people who are in need, and Otobo’s case may not have been an exception, but it appears the Church has not been able to prove this beyond reasonable doubt.
In its press releases so far, the Church has a way of going off track and dwelling more on the surface. They must have forgotten that their Apostle, seemingly admitting his greater challenge, once said, “The general challenge in respect of the call is the flesh and the devil. If these two things are removed, there won’t be any challenge.”
Also, could it be true that Kaduna Governor el-Rufai has a hand in this as a new alleger, one Queen Esther says she won’t provide more details into her sexual relationship with the Apostle until her protection is guaranteed by the Kaduna State Government?
Whatever the case may be, one thing though is for sure. The Apostle still has battles of the flesh to fight, as Otobo has vowed she will not let down, that she lost her pregnancy, and that Suleman must pay.
The petit damsel says the man of God may have done such acts in the past and gotten away with it, but her case won’t be the same. She has threatened to go to court, and has even petitioned the police against Suleman.
But Suleman has taken the Ostrich approach to hiding from a threat by ordering his followers not to join the issues around him on social media, maybe hoping it will die a natural death. Is Suleman being persecuted for his stance against certain issues, or did his lust for a forbidden fruit land him in a place angels do not thread. Like he said, “if I be a man of God the truth will be revealed”.
By Femi Owolabi
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