Apostle Suleiman, senior pastor of Omega Fire Ministries recently received phone calls twice, alerting him of imminent attack on his church by Fulani herdsmen and orchestrated assassination of his person. Then said he to his aides, in his narrative to his Sunday morning congregation ; “any Fulani herdsmen you see around you or in the church premises, kill him…”.
This pronouncement went viral on social media and has been termed by many as inciting, unBiblical and deserving of reprimand by the Nigerian authorities.
He did not order Christians to kill Muslims.
He couldn’t have, when he was born a Muslim himself and yet has a sizeable number of Muslims as relations.
He couldn’t have, when the headquaters of his church is located in Auchi, a town in the Nothern region of Edo state with a large Muslim population, where in fact Christians and their Muslim neighbours have co-existed peacefully for decades.
A few days later, officers of the Department of State Security (DSS) trailed him to his hotel room in Ekiti state, where he was conducting an open-air crusade, perhaps with the intention of taking him into custody to account for his pronouncements, a move that was botched by Ayo Fayose, the governor of the state, who stormed the hotel premises with a crowd at about 1.00am that night, in response to a distress call from the Preacher.
In recent times, Fulani herdsmen have disregarded the sanctity of life and the dictates of the Nigerian constitution by invading communities and killing the inhabitants therein wantonly under the guise of grazing their cattles.
Up until this moment, not a single person has been prosecuted for homicide, with not a few murdered in cold blood and many becoming orphans, widows and widowers almost on regular basis.
THE POSITION OF THE LAW
Sections 306, 307 and 316 of the Criminal Code address the subject of Homicide in relation to the subject matter expressly.
Black’s Law Dictionary defines homicide as the killing of one person by another and criminal homicide as the act of purposely, knowingly, recklessly or negligently causing the death of another human being
The law pursuant to S.319 of the Criminal Code prescribes the death penalty as punishment for homicide
A lawful homicide is a killing that is authorized or justified or excused by law. As a result, it is not every killing of a human being that is considered to be unlawful. It is only when homicide occurs under such circumstances as the law seeks to prevent that it is said to be unlawful
In effect, homicide is considered lawful in the following circumstances; Execution of sentence, SELF-DEFENCE, DEFENCE OF PROPERTY, death by misadventure, death arising from lawful arrest or while preventing escape or during rescue after arrest, death caused during a suppression of riot
Unlawful homicide is a killing that occurs under the circumstances which the law seeks to prevent, and these circumstances may be murder, manslaughter, suicide or infanticide.
Without much ado, the killings by Fulani herdsmen fall under unlawful homicide, while the law recognises the place of killing an aggressor in SELF-DEFENSE as a prelude to self-presrvation.
THE POSITION OF RELIGION
Fulani herdsmen are predominantly Muslims, while Apostle Johnson Suleiman is a Christian, in deed a Christian religious leader. Both parties are thus expected to relate within the context of their religions per time, upon which the public judge their acts thus far.
What does the Quran teach about self defence?
QUARAN Chapter 2:190- 193
 You may fight in the cause of GOD against those who attack you, but do not aggress. GOD does not love the aggressors.
 You may kill those who wage war against you, and you may evict them whence they evicted you. Oppression is worse than murder. Do not fight them at the Sacred Masjid, unless they attack you therein. If they attack you, you may kill them. This is the just retribution for those disbelievers.
 If they refrain, then GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
 You may also fight them to eliminate oppression, and to worship GOD freely. If they refrain, you shall not aggress; aggression is permitted only against the aggressors.
From the above, the Quaran does not encourage Muslims to be aggressors, but to stand in self defence and kill the AGGRESSORS if it be so necessary in their quest for self preservation . The Fulani herdsmen who attack innocent communities (without initial aggression from the communities) therefore run foul of Quaranic injuctions and cannot situate their actions on Islam, but on sheer criminality.
Now, what does the Bible teach about self- defence?
In Matthew 5:38-39, Jesus said; “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Matthew 26:52: Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
2 Corinthians 10 : 4: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.
 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
From the above Biblical points, Christianity does not encourage its faithfuls to kill in self-defence. Any Christian who so does therefore is not acting in line with Biblical injunctions.
THE POSITION OF COMMON-SENSE
The Nigerian Criminal code recognises that a citizen can kill another in self-defense, so long as he’s not the aggressor, classifying it thereof as “lawful homicide”.
In Islam, the Quaran gives credence to the same position as advanced by the Nigerian criminal code.
However, in Christianity, the Bible canvasses the contrary, for vengeance “is of the Lord” and the weapons of the Christian’s warfare “are not carnal”.
If a Muslim thus kills his aggressors in self-defense, he has not gone against his religion, and certainly not against the Nigerian laws.
If a Christian however kills his aggressors in self defense, he has gone against his religion, but not against the Nigerian laws.
In sane societies, he that kills his fellow man is arrested, arraigned and sentenced accordingly to serve as a deterrent to others.
This however cannot be said to be the case in Nigeria, where scores are murdered by Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haramists yet not a single person has been prosecuted hitherto. In fact, those arrested were “counselled”, “de- radicallised” and released back to society to go and ‘sin no more’, in the spirit of “amnesty”!
Is there thus wisdom in Nigerian Christians turning the other cheeks whenever they’re attacked, in line with Biblical injunction in times like this, in a society such as this?
Or, is it wisdom for them to look beyond the ‘dissenting’ Scriptures for now, conjuring other scriptural juxtapositions akin to David killing Goliath, upholding their constitutional right to self-preservation thereby and later deciding to obey the “other-cheek” Biblical injunction, when sanity returns to the antithetical Nigerian polity, where logic stands on its head?
Thomas-Wilson Ikubese is an Akure-based Medical Practitioner and a Social Commentator.