Free Speech and Consequences, DSS, President Buhari, Seed of Unity and the tenets of Democracy in Nigeria
It all started when the Byzantine Emperor, Alexis Comnenus, requested aid from the west against the Muslims. On November 27th, 1095, at Clermont in central France, Pope Urban II delivered the sermon which launched the expedition now known as the First Crusade. He called on the faithful, in particular the lords and knights who formed society's military élites, to relieve the oppression of Eastern Christians by Muslims.
But before the first arrow was fired, one man caused the death of thousands of Christians. He was a Monk, his name was Peter the Hermit, a monk and priest, he led an army of angry Christians to their death at the hands of the Turks in Asia Minor.
In 1187, after the capture of Jerusalem by the Moslem warrior Saladin (Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub) Pope Urban III collapsed and died on hearing the news. His successors, the short-lived Gregory VIII, and then Clement III called for a new crusade to reclaim the land of Christ’s birth for Christianity. This call-to-arms was received enthusiastically by many of the great nobles and princes of Europe. In England, France, Germany and the Low Countries crusading fever swept across the land like wildfire, and thousands of knights flocked to “take the cross”. Christian Europe mobilized the greatest forces even known in history to destroy Saladin and his Muslims and thus declared the third Crusade. This campaign was led by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I (also known as Barbarossa), Philip II, king of France and the fierce Richard the Lion Heart king of England. The Campaign was a disaster like previous ones. Emperor Barbarossa died before he reached Jerusalem, Lion heart and King Philip later abandoned the Crusade after failing to conquer Saladin and Millions of people died.
I took the pain to explain this fact of history because those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. After listening to Apostle Johnson Suleman's sermon where he ordered his members to kill Fulani herdsmen in self-defense and the circus that followed with the attempt of the Department of State Services (DSS) to arrest him, I felt sorry for Nigeria. While I may not hold brief for Apostle Suleman, I would rather advice caution. I knew the man of God spoke in good faith in defense of the people so dear to him, especially when these innocent citizens have repeatedly been victims of reckless and undeserved attacks. But an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind.
It’s very unfortunate that our nation has been so chronically misruled that men of Faith had to take the role of government to address national problems. If our social justice system had been functional, Fulani herdsmen would not have been killing innocent Christians and the course of justice would have been served and those implicated properly prosecuted. It was the failure of our government to protect her citizens that prompted the frustration and anger expressed by Suleman during his sermon
But again, words have consequences, Apostle Suleman, please sheath your swords. What we may certainly not wish for Nigeria at this moment of economic depression is another Crusade. Instead let’s use love to defeat hate, wisdom to defeat ignorance and mutual trust to sow seeds of National Unity. It is well; sheath your swords Apostle Suleman
Now, Selective justice like it’s vice “alternative facts“ is a political fraud. President Buhari who while addressing members of the CPC from Niger State in 2012 warned that 2015 would be bloody if elections were not transparent was not arrested by President Jonathan and was not grilled by the DSS. Why would Apostle Suleman be fit for arrest by the Presidency after making the same threat Buhari made few years earlier. Where was the DSS at that point in time, did they just wake up from slumber? We cannot move forward as a nation when we use selective justice to defraud tax-payers. It’s simply a witch-hunt.
Apostle Suleman erred in advocating jungle justice in a digital age, which has the dangers of setting a dangerous precedence but the Presidency also erred also by using the instrumentality of the state to intimidate a law abiding citizen who expressed his fundamental rights to free speech.
The government should rather make an inquest to the remote causes of this self-inflicted religious hate, find the problems and fix them where necessary. No Nigerian is a born terrorist; terrorists are made – by a combination of bad governance and failed leadership. President Buhari may not be the culprit here, he may have inherited the problems but as a leader, he should do everything possible to fix these problems as best as he can.
We have all made mistakes but progress is still possible. Let the president appoint Apostle Suleman and a respectable Iman from Northern Nigeria to lead a reconciliatory commission where all issues will be discussed and an inter-faith solution, mutual love, respect for life, respect for human dignity and education through religious tolerance promotional activities championed. Let us refrain from throwing away both the child and the water. Let us look into honest complaints and concerns from both sides, meet each other in the middle and everybody will be a winner
IKECHUKWU CHINEDU writes from Stockholm, Sweden