The furore, over an Auchi, Edo State, priest’s latest fatwa on Fulani herdsmen, appears the latest excitement in a tense polity.
Apostle Johnson Suleiman, in a video gone viral on cyberspace, had told his cheering Omega Fire Ministries Worldwide audience to “kill” any Fulani herdsmen they found lurking around his church premises.
He claimed the new fatwa was contingent on a telephone intelligence that some “Fulani herdsmen” were after his life, based on his principled stance on the southern Kaduna crisis.
Now, southern Kaduna is a tale of blood and gore, of hideous mayhem, all pressed in the alleged mass massacre of local Christians, by an alleged Muslim cabal, allegedly supported by the powers-that-be.
Though there appears no “smoking guns” regarding official complicity, a vibrant rumour mill, projecting ancient but mutual animosities, magnified by equally bitter media allies, has given the allegation an ugly life of its own.
That manoeuvre has created two opposing armies of fearsome hate, arrayed in ethnic, religious and regional battalions, sworn to dooming each other in fierce verbal combat — or much worse! Pray, in matters of faith and perceived ethnic slur, who indeed keeps his head?
Not the good apostle, he of the incendiary pulpit! Apostle Suleiman would appear the classical neophyte, ready to risk all in defence of his adopted faith.
After sentencing poor Kaduna Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, to a “divine” death sentence, for the temerity to attempt controlling religious fanaticism, Muslim or Christian, in his state, the crusading Apostle and fiery Holy Michael of besieged Christendom Nigeria, also feels obliged to christen El-Rufai “the short man devil that calls himself governor”, in the final flurry en route to proclaiming his latest Fulani fatwa!
Why? Perhaps because the good Lord still gives the governor life, while the angry man of God had proclaimed him dead!
Still, let it not be supposed that the opposing Muslim partisans, for whom the much hated “Fulani herdsmen” are nothing but scary faces of gargoyle, are angels, meek and innocent. Far from it.
For too long, Islam has, in the North, been projected as the swashbuckling faith of power, before which other adherents must bow and cow. That has, over the years, come with soulless impunity, which has chiselled away at citizens’ most fundamental of rights — the right to life.
By commission or omission, you could routinely get away with murder, only if you killed in the name of Allah — never mind that that was convenient screen for base bigotry against citizens of other faiths; or even sundry criminality. That has resulted, in the victims’ camp, in bitterness and dissonance.
But, in the great theatres of this war, like southern Kaduna, with its chequered history, the battle would appear on two fronts. While the victims count their losses in lives and limbs, the aggressor class are savaged with wholesale demonization, by the media, sympathetic to the victims.
That, with time, becomes received wisdom — or, more accurately, received folly — as every Fulani is no devil any more than others are saints.
That is the sentiment of explosive resent that super-sympathizers, like Apostle Suleiman, tap into — perfectly understandable, given the extant atmosphere of mutual and vibrant hate.
Still, crusading for the cheated is one thing. Goading congregants to free murder, under whatever guise, is another.
That was the point, it would appear, the man of God entered the Department of State Services (DSS) radar.
But even before dealing with state intervention in the matter, on what plank, secular or divine, might Apostle Suleiman stand, on charging his church members to kill other citizens?
On his Christian creed? Even at the point of arrest and subsequent crucifixion, the last miracle of Jesus, the Christ, did was restoring a cropped ear — a big blow for non-violence, no matter the provocation.
If you plead the Mosaic law of “an ear for an ear”, could the Apostle then be practising Judaism in Christian garb? Or is it that Christ was too divine, to be relevant in this era of cocky impunity by the hateful Fulani?
In the secular world, is the Citizen Apostle simply rooting for self-help, despite the apparent danger to himself and his flock? If he was, what sort of citizen might he be?
Of course, the reported DSS attempt to arrest Suleiman added even a more grotesque twist to the ridiculous drama, of a man of God baying for blood.
Enter, Ekiti’s Peter Ayodele Fayose, the perfect example of a gubernatorial burlesque, if ever there was one.
Somewhat, the much hated “Fulani herdsmen” are drawing Christian clerics, spanning the good, the bad and the ugly, to the Fayose burlesque.
At Yuletide 2016, Fayose drew fulsome, if impolitic, praise from The Redeemed Church of God’s Pastor Enoch Adeboye, provoking a raft of reactions, for or against.
Fayose’s unscripted citation, on that grand occasion, was his heroics against killer “Fulani herdsmen” — admittedly one of the few good policies the excitable governor can boast, applying due process to a clear and present danger.
Less than a month after, again relating to “Fulani herdsmen”, Fayose was rushing to save an apostolic loose cannon from DSS arrest!
Again, on what plank might the governor stand, embarking on such outlawry?
That, a governor, sworn to keeping the law, can foil other organs of state, doing their work? Or that the creed of a governor installed by law, on due process, is to push for self-help, over and above due process, using his exalted office as abused collateral?
And just imagine, the putative collateral damage in Nigeria’s pseudo-federalism, when the governor, though chief security officer, doesn’t have any of the state security arms under his control? And just suppose, a crazy trooper, just tired at a governor standing on his official dignity, each time they try to do their work, and cocks a gun — or worse!
Bedlam in the human rights chamber, now as quiet as the grave yard?
Let neither the outlaw priest nor the outlaw governor test the will of the law. Both are assured of nothing but doom, whatever fancies colourful emotions conjure.