Pastor Ajisafe detained ‘for his own protection’


September 27, 2017

Pastor Victor Ajisafe

Popular Nigerian Pastor, Evangelist Victor Ajasafi, was yesterday detained by the police “for his own protection” after video and audio clips attributed to him went viral on social media.

The evangelist could be seen and heard making disparaging statements against the Grand Mufti of Zimbabwe, Ishmail Menk, who last week visited the country, attracting thousands of both Muslims and Christians to the national stadium in Freetown.

In clip, Pastor Ajisafe referred to the charismatic Islamic cleric as ‘a liar and an angel of darkness’, adding that the moderate preacher had no message or power to deliver people and that the Muslim faith is synonymous with terrorism.

He could be also heard saying unpleasant things about the late former President, Ahmed Tejan Kabbah.

Sierra Leoneans are renowned around the world for being religious tolerant. As expected, Muslims and Christians alike took to social media to condemn Pastor Ajisafe, who they accused of preaching hate speech that has the tendency to spark a violent religious conflict.

The government, through the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s’ Affairs convened an emergency meeting of the Inter-Religious Council, police and Office of National Security.

A statement released subsequently said the meeting concluded that the pastor’s statements were “untrue, hateful and inciting.”

It further states that Christian leaders have distanced themselves from the statement of Pastor Ajisafe, with one of them, Rev. Dr. Usman HJesse Fornah quoted to have said that: “We have enjoyed peaceful co-existence with Muslims and we want it to continue.”

Muslims leaders at the meeting are also quoted to have emphasised that Islam stands for peace as they urged “true Muslims” not to react violently to the provocation.

Also, the release said that police have been deployed at all premises belonging to the Sanctuary Praise Church to protect them from anticipated arson attacks, citing intelligence reports.

The release said that operations of the church would be suspended with immediate effect in all locations across the country, apparently for the safety and security of worshippers.

In addition, the Independent Media Commission, which regulates the media, is reported to be looking into broadcasts by a radio station operated by the Sanctuary Praise Church.

The media regulatory body, in a press release yesterday, said it had listened to the sermon preached by Evangelist Victor Ajasafe with ‘dismay’ and found it “inflammatory and has the tendency to affect religious tolerance in the country.”

Meanwhile, the government has called for calm and restrain by both sides of the religious divide, while the United Council of Imams, in a press release, called on all Muslims to maintain peace and order.