12 August 2021
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The Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, has detained a Youtuber, Israel Balogun, over allegations of criminal defamation and cyber stalking of the General Overseer of the Omega Fire Ministries International, Apostle Johnson Suleman.
PUNCH Metro gathered that the 38-year-old was interrogated for about four hours and later detained after being given stringent bail conditions.
Our correspondent learnt that Balogun posted a video on his Youtube channel where he showed clips of Suleman declaring to his congregation that angels would deposit money into their bank accounts.
The clips were from ministrations of the cleric in Atlanta, United States, and Auchi, Edo State, where worshippers showed their phones to testify to receiving credit alerts in their bank accounts.
Balogun described the claims as false and slammed Suleiman.
His remarks were trailed by mixed reactions on social media.
While some commended Balogun for his boldness, others said he was seeking relevance.
The businessman told our correspondent that he later got a threat call from one Obi-West.
“He said he is the eyes of Apostle Suleman on social media and said I should expect to hear from them. He said I will be missing and he will make sure I get punished by officers from the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters.
“He said killing me is nothing to them. I recorded the whole conversation and used it in recording another video where I called people to rescue me because my life was in danger,” he added.
Balogun noted that he received a letter from Suleman’s lawyer on Monday, August 2, 2021, demanding a public apology within seven days.
He said, “I was still consulting with my lawyer when somebody called to notify me that some guys from Abuja were in Lagos to pick me up to Abuja. My wife, daughter and I immediately abandoned our home and went into hiding.”
The Ogun State indigene said he later received an invitation from the Special Enquiry Bureau, FCIID, Abuja.
The invite, signed by one ACP Yahaya Abubakar, asked Balogun to report at the FCIID on Wednesday, August 11, 2021.
Balogun’s lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, told PUNCH Metro on Wednesday that the Youtuber had been detained.
He said, “The formal interrogation was for about four hours, including the time they used in taking his statements. Part of his bail conditions was to provide two sureties with landed property and certificate of ownership in Abuja, and a Level 14 civil servant with either a letter of last employment or letter of introduction.
“We have somebody with CofO, and presented a Level 13 civil servant, which they accepted. But they insisted that the person should bring a letter of introduction, whereas the person has a letter of last promotion. Even though we said we will bring the originals tomorrow, they rejected it and put Balogun in the cell.
“The conditions are difficult and unnecessary given the nature of the offence. There is no reason why the police should get involved as he (Suleman) should have gone to court to file legal action if he felt he had been defamed.”
A spokesperson for the FCIID, Abuja, Funmi Eguaoje, said the bail conditions were normal.
She said, “If you bring a surety that is a civil servant, there should be verification from the office of the civil servant. There should be a letter of introduction from his boss to show that he is a staff member. They should bring it tomorrow (Thursday) and they will release him.”
Suleman’s counsel, Samuel Amune, said he only wrote Balogun to recant his statements and apologise for using derogatory remarks.
He added that he knew nothing about the petition.
Suleman, in a recent video, said he observed that Youtubers usually abused him to gain traffic to their page and make money.
He said he had decided to also get paid for the criticism.
The cleric said, “Now, when anybody wants to open a Youtube channel or have a blog, one of the strategies to make people get attracted to get lots of views and comments is to attack pastors and I am one of the major subject matters.
“I don’t have a problem with that because a million abuses cannot do nothing; but what I have a problem with is that at the end of the month, Youtube is paying you for insulting me.
“So, we need to have an agreement, go ahead and insult me but pay me. If you want to insult me, pay me and then do the videos, abuse me; you have my permission because one million videos cannot bring a true man of God down