Two aides to Communications Minister Adebayo Shorty were sacked as a result of a memo addressed to him demanding payment of their emoluments. The memo, since gone viral on social media, also mentioned disclosure of the Minister’s sudden wealth. Their firings and disclaimer were contained in a statement by Deputy Director of Press in the…
God using me to expose Apostle Suleman – Stephanie Otobo
We’re in court, can’t comment – Suleman
By VINCENT KALU, KATE HALIM, VIVIAN ONYEBUCHI, Lagos, TONY OSAUZO and IGHOMUAYE LUCKY, Benin
The adultery scandal between the General Overseer of Omega Fire Ministry (OFM) Worldwide, Apostle Johnson Suleman and his alleged estranged mistress, Stephanie Otobo, took another stormy turn last weekend, with the appearance of a new online video in which the velte club stripper in an interview with Canada-based Worship Media displays UBA bank statements of alleged payments made by the cleric to her account in 2015. If anything, the new revelation is an indication that the bitter feud is not ending soon, despite a pending libel suit by the cleric against his supposed traducer.
The Suleman-Otobo affair is the latest episode of Sex and Men of God soap opera since the fall of televangelist Jimmy Swaggart.
The trial of Apostle Suleman is similar in plot to that of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) founder, Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, who in 2013 was accused of a fling by an ex-member of the church, Ese Walter. Other popular Pentecostal leaders hitherto, associated with supposed sexual misconducts include Believers Love World Ministry’s Pastor Chris Oyakhilome who in 2014 was dogged by such rumours, which his wife of many years cited as irreconcilable differences that forced her out of their marriage and Pastor Sunday Adelaja, Founder and Senior pastor of the Embassy of God church in Kiev, Ukraine, traduced in 2016 of adultery with 20 women of his congregation. They all denied the accusations.
Suleman’s predicament began early in the year when Otobo’s lawyer, Festus Keyamo, wrote to the cleric to demand N500 million damages for his client on account of an alleged breach by Suleman who, instead of fulfilling his promise to marry her, jilted her, and shrewdly aborted her pregnancy. The controversy deteriorated with the arrest of the Ontario, Canada-based musician in a Lagos bank on March 3. After her bail on March 9, 2017, Otobo went on the offensive. She has since been having a field day regaling the public with explicit accounts of their supposed dalliance.
Apostle Suleman––consistent in his denial of any involvement with the Canada-based stripper whom he accused of abusing his altruism––draws a huge support from his church and his wife, who has released a “My Hero” music video for him. He also enjoyed a rare support of an unlikely politico, outspoken Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, who termed the controversy a political witch-hunt.
Indeed, critics have faulted the timing of the scandal, which came on the heels of the cleric’s controversial comments against reckless and indiscriminate killing of Christians in Southern Kaduna.
Many regard the unfurling “Otobogate” a political machination, especially, against the backdrop of the encounter between the Auchi-based clergyman and the Department of State Services (DSS) over his herdsmen comment.
Charged with the burden of proving beyond reasonable doubt, the substance of her allegation, a turbo-charged Otobo seems to have commenced an all-out battle, firing her first salvoes with the release of the bank transaction details and screenshots of a chat thread between Apple Johnson! and Queen Elena that shows a racy exchange replete with risqué humour. Ms. Otobo promised to release her call logs soon. Still steaming with rage and a burning desire to get the pastor own up, Stephanie in an exclusive interview with Saturday Sun from her base in Canada on Wednesday said it is God using her to expose Apostle Suleman, even as she gave further insights into their alleged relationship.
The Suleman camp – the cleric, church members, lawyer and spokesperson – abstained from commenting on the latest development. Attempts to speak with members of the church in Benin, the Edo State capital, were rebuffed. Saturday Sun reporters who visited a branch of the church at Uwa Road, off Murtala Mohammed Way, were turned away. At another branch, located at WAEC Road, Aduwawa, a church member told them matter-of-factly: “We have been warned not to speak or utter a word on the matter. Please leave the premises.”
We’re in court, can’t comment – Suleman
Osa Director, counsel to the embattled Apostle Johnson Suleman, has dismissed the bank statement purportedly released by Stephanie Otobo that shows payments, allegedly made into her account by the man of God.
Speaking with Saturday Sun, the lawyer observed it is prejudicial to comment on a case already in a court of competent jurisdiction. According to him, they are not going to join issues with her in the media.
Stephanie Otobo released a bank statement showing payments allegedly made into her account by Apostle Suleman as a proof that there was a relationship between her and the man of God. What do you say to this?
I have not seen any bank statement that she purportedly released, because I have been in Port Harcourt for the African Bar Association meeting.
On this, we have already filed a suit against her, and so what she did was to further commit other libel, which is actionable and also contempt of court.
It will be prejudicial for me to start making statements as regards the substance of an issue that is already before a court of competent jurisdiction. We have filed a case against her at Ikeja High Court, asking for N1b damages.
Considering the damage already done to the reputation of the man of God, don’t you think it is prudent to consider out-of-court settlement to end the matter?
Settle with who? You only settle with somebody that you have transaction with. We don’t have any transaction with her, so we cannot do any settlement, apart from the settlement by court of justice, and that is where we are going.
She alleged a breach of promise to marry, that drinks were taken to her parents for the marriage introduction, but her dad came out to disclaim that, and her mother also came to say such a thing never happened.
Secondly, if there was a breach of promise to marry her, why has she not sued for breach of marriage promise?
If she is happy with the media trial, let her continue; we are already in a court of justice, and waiting on pronouncement on the issue. We are not going to join issues with her on the pages of newspapers and the social media. We are not going to do that because we are professionals.
Whatever she is alleging, good luck to her. We have already filed a suit in court and we don’t want to be guilty of contempt of court. We don’t want to make a prejudicial statement. If she continues to release statements, fine and good for her, at the end of the day, the court will make the final statement.
If she said my client breached the promise to marry her, let her sue him, instead of banking on media trial.
Settle with her for what purpose? Is it not when there is a contract that settlements are discussed? My client has never met her before. Let her continue with her blackmail, we are already in court. If she has any substance let her go to court, certainly we are not going to join any issue with her.
From all indications, they are the ones that should go to court but they didn’t. We went to court. Lagos State government and the Inspector General of Police have dragged her to court for criminal blackmail, threat to life and efforts to obtain money by false pretense at Magistrate Court in Tinubu, Lagos, and we also sued her at Ikeja High Court.
We are not going to join issues with her. We are asking for one billion naira damages from her and also, one billion naira damages from Sahara Reporters.
It’s God using me to expose Apostle Suleman – Stephanie Otobo
‘Apostle Suleman should own up’
In an exclusive interview with Saturday Sun, Stephanie Otobo called on Apostle Suleman to tender public apology to her, as well as, to his congregation before she could back down from the battle God is using her to wage against the cleric to expose his true nature.
When most people doubted your claim on Apostle Suleman, you came up with evidence that people thought was not available, why were you holding this back since; why did it take you so long to release the bank statement, and BB chat?
My laptop was stolen when I came to Nigeria last year, and it was when I returned to Canada and bought a new one that I was able to recover most of the information, and I went to my BB conversation to crosscheck the things that he was saying and found them funny.
We also learnt that you have more evidence like text messages because some of Apostle’s supporters are saying that BB chats could also be forged. Is that correct?
What do you want now, do you want peace; do you want out of court settlement?
No matter what he is offering, I want a public apology. He has to apologise for the embarrassment and the denials. He can’t be too big to apologise to the congregation that he has thrown into shame. He arranged for the law enforcement agents to pick me up and froze my account.
Do you not fear for your life in the face of all these?
I should ask you guys who are asking me for more evidence, are you not threats to my life? Those asking for evidence, can they come up and speak to that man? I won’t even appreciate anybody asking for more evidence. I pray and believe in God, and I know the truth and the truth is the word of God and Christ is the way, and I pray that the truth comes out. I know they say we are all in the market here on earth and heaven is home but the truth is that, we are all in the farm, what we sow, we will all reap. That’s why we should make sure we are good today to inherit goodness tomorrow.
I had much on Instagram, which I deleted. Recently, I started writing a book on what happened, and few days ago, I woke up in the night and continued with the book. There were so many evidence, which I deleted as I didn’t know that this was going to happen at all.
Since then, he has been trying to fight me, he has been trying to kill me; he has tried spiritually, he couldn’t get me, and now he wants to use physical power, but my God is stronger and greater than him.
Was it true that you asked your mum to go and beg him, as shown in a video with your mum and sister coming to his church to beg him; are you the one behind that or are you angry with your mum for doing that?
I would not have done that. It was a betrayal to me, but I forgive my mum because anybody in her position will do the same and it is because of how big the man is, that is why my mum is scared. This man lives in a community where people are scared of him; my mum is scared of him. I know what I am saying is true…
Especially when you know that something went on between the two of you?
Yeah. A man of God would have given the issue to his lawyer and say that he didn’t know the girl. And you call yourself an Apostle, how are you teaching people the way of God? He wanted to silence me; that is what exactly he wanted to do. I wouldn’t appreciate people asking me for more evidence.
As I have presented my own bank statement, he should bring his own. He and I were in Europe together, he should show his passport that was June 2015, in Italy.
Were you actually in love with him, and if you were, do still have any feeling for him given what has happened?
He lied to me, telling me that he and his wife were not going to be together anymore. That was why I followed him with the marriage proposal. So, for him to lie… and then gave me something to drink, I don’t believe he’s a man of God. I don’t have anything to say to him than for him to go ask God for forgiveness because God would still forgive him.
With what has happened, he scammed you, that is marriage scam?
Yes, he promised me marriage and made me to lose my house; he promised car, everything. He told me he had divorced his wife, and the pictures would be out soon. He said I should not be worried and because of his personality that he couldn’t just speak out on the divorce issue.
During this controversy, pictures with his wife were released to the public, showing public display of affection, how do you feel?
I thank God for his wife. That is what a home is supposed to be, and I wish I could say sorry to her, that I didn’t know her husband was lying. I’m happy for her and her marriage and that is what I pray for everyone that is married.
I’m just happy, this is a wake up call for him. All he has to do before everything would end is that he owns up to the truth and apologise, because he can’t run away from it. I’m very happy for them. I’m sure his wife will be singing in her heart that she brought him back home.
This is not a big deal, it might be a wake up call, but the way he is handling it, arresting me, sending me to jail and trying to silence me before anybody would know, is not the right thing to do. You can’t treat people like that. He has made himself so much of a god that nobody who wants to turn away and give him the benefit of doubt; they just want to believe him. You can’t put yourself like that because it is not acceptable to God.
If he doesn’t peacefully change, God will disgrace him, because this is not me fighting him, it is God using me to expose him. He should own up to the truth and apologise.
What do want Nigerians to do for you now?
I want to apologise for the part that I played in all of this. This whole thing just happened suddenly and many people who had faith in this man were all disappointed. I’m sorry but this is the truth. I’m sorry this happened, and I’m sorry for the part I played in this.
Some men of God who erred came out openly to admit their guilt and apologised…
Yes, but not wanting to kill. If he has not done it before, he would be scared to do all these things. He’s trying to talk to government here in order cause me some immigration problems in Canada.
I’m suing him in Canada, but I don’t know if that is coming up now. My lawyer will bring that up.
Concerning the prayers and night vigil you said you have been holding, what are you asking God to do?
I’m telling God to let the truth come out and for protection as well. The word of God says no weapon formed against me shall prosper; and any tongue that rises against me shall be condemned. God’s word is power and I have that in mind, that God is protecting me.
Who is going to give Suleman the opportunity to wake up and harm me? Is it not God, and now that he is lying, he doesn’t have that opportunity to hurt me because he has to own up to the truth first before he can do any other thing. He can’t hurt me.
I’m sure you will be glad to have a man who will accept you the way you are?
For that one, I’m very okay. I’m minding my music because I’m releasing it someday soon.
Will this experience form the focus of the album you want to release?
Of course, the experience is part of it. It is a gospel song entitled, I depend on you. By God’s grace, I have been so busy and everything will settle when the truth comes out.
Has there been any communication between the two of you either directly or indirectly?
You are no longer having any feeling, especially old memory of him?
After he has arrested me and I went through hell. I don’t think I have any feeling for him. When you are in prison, you see a lot of things and make a lot of decisions.
I was asking God to have mercy upon me and I was not thinking about him. So, God showed me mercy and I have to move on with my life.
The Public’s Verdict
As the Suleman-Otobo face-off continues, the public is divided over the truth of the romantic tango claims by the Canada-based stripper against one of the most charismatic preachers in the country.
A Saturday Sun random opinion poll shows divergent views from a cross-section of the public who bared their minds.
I doubt if he is innocent of the allegations because his conduct so far does not suggest that he is. The girl has made some allegations and she is showing some evidence of contact between them. I expected him to go to court and sue both the girl and the chambers of her lawyers; instead he embarks on intimidation of Stephanie and her family. He admitted giving the girl some money but the sum involved has gone beyond what I call charity.
His wife too is part of the problem, because I think she knows he messed up, but she is rather covering up for him. Like every hypocrite, it’s payback time. Although I do not condemn him, we are all human. What I condemn is the lies, hypocrisy and misuse of power. The moral of the story: Most men have secret lives.
He didn’t deny knowing the girl and we don’t really know what went on between the two of them. Since the case is already in court, let’s wait and see how it unfolds. Everybody knows pastors commit sin, let’s hold on till more convincing facts emerge.
But in my view, he is guilty. He couldn’t deny the allegations, but was just looking for ways to shut the girl up. First, he accepted paying money into her account. What was the money for? The truth is quite obvious. But our mindset here is the major challenge. Because he is a pastor, people don’t want to accept that he is guilty.
Emmanuel Nnadozie Onwubiko
(National Coordinator of pro-democracy and non-governmental organization, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA)
This alleged sex scandal involving a self-acclaimed Canada-based songstress Miss Stephanie Otobo and a prominent Pentecostal leader Apostle Suleman Johnson calls for ethical and professional compliance by their lawyers.
I am worried the law firm of Festus Keyamo may have violated section 25 of the Legal Practitioners Act, Chapter 207, laws of the Federation of Nigeria, which prohibits lawyers from instigating litigation for their aggrandizement.
Specifically, section 25(a) and (b)(ii) of the Legal Practitioners Act, Chapter 207, states as follows: “(a) It is unprofessional conduct for a lawyer to proffer advice to bring a lawsuit, except in rare cases where ties of blood, relationship or trust may render it necessary, fomenting strife or instigating litigation is unprofessional conduct; or (b) (ii) seeking out claimants in respect of personal injuries and other causes of action as possible clients.”
There are sufficient grounds to suspect that some northern hawks are targeting the founder of the Omega Fire Ministry over his courageous act of speaking out against systematic genocide of Christians in Southern Kaduna by armed Fulani herdsmen. Caution on the part of all the parties involved is needed to avoid stoking the embers of religious upheavals in these tensed and trying times. I believe that he is totally innocent of those charges of sexual escapades as made sensationally by Miss Otobo until they are sufficiently proven by a competent court of law.
The accuser and her lawyer must stop insulting the moral conscience of millions of Nigerians by indecently rolling out intimate details of the alleged sexual escapades, which totally remains speculative, unsubstantiated and untested in the competent court of law.
My reaction is not to be judgmental because no one is perfect. I believe both of them had a relationship that went sour for some reasons. Neither side can be fully trusted to tell the truth. I think the Apostle is too embarrassed to admit the truth, and I hope he does not further compound his errors by trying to exterminate his erstwhile lover by all means.
I don’t believe he is innocent. I believe he had something to do with that girl. Instead of him to come clean, he’s busy trying to intimidate her into silence. She has revealed further evidence about their relationship, and I don’t know how people keep defending him. He’s a man, not God.
As a Christian, I have grown to understand that sometimes when you have been indulging in sin privately for long, and the Holy Spirit keeps warning you and you ignore, the next thing is open disgrace. Those are my private thoughts.
Knowing the God I serve, whatever a man sows, he reaps and if indeed he had that relationship with the girl, then he has to pay for it. I’ve seen a lot of things some men of God do that are really obnoxious, but I know God has His ways of dealing with them. All his defenders shouldn’t forget that he’s a man first and has weaknesses.
From what I can deduce from this case, he may indeed have had an affair with the girl. But after speaking out against the government and the Fulani cattle rustlers, they decided to teach him a lesson and discredit him publicly. All they needed to do was get DSS to dig into his history. Let him face the music if proven guilty in the end.
Stephanie Otobo is a fraud. She is so shameless that she is rubbishing her life just to bring down a man of God. That thing she released recently is not valid evidence. She’s fake. She’s a liar from the pit of hell. She cooked up instant messages. I hope she will be put to shame soon because the Apostle is innocent. With all these new evidence, is she willing to return the money she was given?
Evangelist Tony Ohakwe
(Public Relations consultant)
I don’t like to talk about the issue of pastors because they are ordained men of God. If it is true, that means that it is one of the things we prayed for at the beginning of the year that God should expose the evil people. Nonetheless, we should allow God to judge.
It is unfortunate. There is no smoke without fire. Apostle Suleman needs to get back to God. He has allowed flesh to take over. He has been overshadowed with pride, judging from his comments at times. With what is happening, God wants to teach him a lesson. He needs to go back to God. God wants to use this to humble him. I pity the man. The truth of the matter is that he should rededicate himself to God. What kind of charity are you doing when you pay millions into an account? Is that how to do charity? When you call yourself a pastor, you have to be very careful.
Bishop Nath Ofor
(General Overseer, Jesus Campaigners Ministry)
Why is she trying to make it public? When she was collecting the money did she tell anybody? Why is she complaining now? If it is true, she should have known how to settle the problem without making it public. No one knows what happened because it was a secret, and nobody can say what happened because there is no witness. Only God knows the truth.
Mrs. Nne Ukiwe
I believe Apostle Suleman
As per Otobo’s commentaries, there is nothing said that didn’t have an atom of truth in it.