The almost one year accusations and counter accusations between a Canadian based night club stripper and musician, Stephanie Otobo and Apostle Johnson Suleman over allegations of illicit and secret amorous relationship finally came to a climax on the night of Friday, January 26, 2018.
During the monthly ‘Fire Night’ programme organized by Omega Fire Ministries, OFM where Apostle Johnson Suleman is the founder and overseer, it was a bemused multitude of worshippers who witnessed Otobo, the accuser of the man of God step out to speak to the congregation, Otobo confessed in the glare of cameras and over 5,000 worshippers that she was paid to bring down the man of God. But without being specific, Otobo claimed that she was handsomely paid by some top politicians and men of God to discredit and destroy the reputation of Apostle Suleman.
But who are these politicians and men of God? Otobo told OFM media in Auchi, Edo State, that for her safety she will not disclose their names for now. However, she disclosed that all the interviews and videos she did in the past to discredit the man of God were arranged and authored by her lawyer. “They told me what to say and when”; she said.
As for the statement of defence filed by Keyamo on behalf of Otobo on January 24, 2018, the controversial Canadian based artist distanced herself from it in entirety, claiming she signed a bundle of documents, which was not read to her and that the photographs contained therein did not come from her.
According to Tony Ojei, an Ikeja based legal practitioner, Otobo’s confessions is an outright denouncement of Festus Keyamo as a counsel. “If indeed she said what she said, it amounts to disowning Keyamo and that would amount to serious ethical breaches.”
Apostle Johnson Suleman could not be reached for comments. However, his lawyer, Osa Director said the confessions of Otobo did not come to them as a surprise. “I knew it was a matter of time before the cookies crumble because you need more lies to sustain a lie, and at the end of the day it becomes an unsustainable project.”
However, the news which trended on several blogs and social media has ignited swift reactions from Nigerians. Many that spoke to Sunday Sun were outraged at the heinous lies that have been peddled against the Man of God, Apostle Suleman, urging him to seek legal redress. They lambasted Ms. Otobo and her employers, saying they deserve to rot in jail to serve as a deterrent to other blackmailers out there that lie against clerics.
One of the respondents, Ms Queen Ameh, President of the Human Rights Defender and Advocacy Centre (HRDAC) expressed dismay at Ms Otobo’s lies and encouraged Apostle Suleman to seek justice at the courts. “I followed that incident right from when she accused him of impregnating and breaching a promise to marry her. I recall all the sordid things she said about the cleric. So I felt appalled when I watched her yesterday saying she lied and pleaded to be forgiven. That is just too bad! So I would advise him to seek justice, so that Ms Otobo and her cohorts can stay a few weeks in prison. I’m sure that would serve as deterrent to others.”
Also, Comrade Toyin Okanlawon, a child rights activists and founder of World Youth League International (WYLI) agrees with Ms Ameh. According to Comrade Okanlawon, the weight of Ms. Otobo’s lies and the extent of damage on the image of apostle Suleman is too much to be allowed to pass by a mere wave of the hand. He called on the cleric to allow the law take its full course. “Noway! Such slanders and character assassination of such magnitude should not be swept under the carpet. I strongly recommend that Ms. Otobo and her gang be dealt with, and be allowed to face the wrath of the law. Because of that singular incident, Apostle Suleman’s integrity and honour that he built over the years, was put to doubt within and outside Nigeria. So justice must be done.”
For Mrs Arinze Ugokwe, a public relations officer, she decried it saying is becoming a routine for blackmailers to aim clerics. She argued that mischief makers target clerics because they are morally under the oath to forgive any wrongdoing. “That one is a cleric is not enough reason for one to seek justice. But if Apostle Suleman must forgive her, I would suggest that he insists that Ms Otobo should publicly name those behind the scene that manipulated her.”
For Mr. Willie Walkman Ogah, social worker and Founder, Advocacy for Widows Empowerment Foundation (ADWEF) the agreed that Apostle Suleman could pardon Ms Otobo, but should not forgive the master minders behind the messy scandalous allegations. “I think Pastor Suleman should just forgive her, and then curse those who initiated the blackmail against the prophet of God.”
Even with the outrage, some Nigerians still believe that Apostle Suleman, as a popular religious leader is bound to forgive and allow bygones be bygones. According to Anthony Nwachuanya, the immediate past coordinator, Amen Prayer Group of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, Apostle Suleman must practice what he preaches by forgiving Ms. Otobo and all that worked with her. “As a man of God, he must forgive her and leave everything to God. He should see the lies against him as temptation and a test to his faith in God. Hence I would suggest he uses that experience to teach and preach about forgiveness to his members.”
Also Mr. Donatus Okolie, an Accountant feels that even though the stories circulated were distasteful, there are some positives for Apostle Suleman. “Apostle Suleiman is an accomplished man of God. So I don’t see what he stands to gain if he seeks indemnities by taking Ms. Otobo to court. Although the falsehood peddled by her was salacious, but it somehow made Apostle Suleman more popular in the media, so he should just forgive her because he has everything to gain by doing so.”