Nollywood actress, Chioma Grace Ifemeludike recounts how devastated and mentally drained she was after confessing to having been paid after sleeping with the Omega Fire Ministries International founder, Apostle Suleman Johnson.
Recall that the actress, months ago alleged that she and the pastor had some romantic escapades in which she was paid for the services rendered. This however generated brouhahas as she was dragged on social media.
However, reminiscing on the saga, during an exclusive interview with Saturday Sun revealed how disturbing and hard the confession was on her mental health while addressing other related issues.
Read the interview below:
You’ve been quite outspoken about issues concerning Nigeria lately. What prompted that?
It started way back when I was in the university. I was a staunch member of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), which made me courageous and outspoken. I attended conventions and interacted with different student leaders across the 36 states and that gave me a lot of exposure. And then, I’ve always been someone that doesn’t like injustice. I’ve always had this passion to speak out or stand up for people who are being intimidated, bullied, harassed and oppressed. I studied Political Science, so I have a good knowledge of politics coupled with the fact that I took part in student unionism. Yes, that was where it all started for me, and today, I’ve become an activist. I think it’s one of my life’s purposes and I don’t regret following this path.
After your alleged incident with Apostle Suleiman, you cut your hair, what prompted that?
I cut my hair because I’ve always wanted to do so. It’s not because of anything but I’d always planned to do it, I kept procrastinating; I just knew because it was a fashion thing and also because my hair needed to grow again. There were a lot of dead ends and corners so I needed to start again. Maybe the whole incident gave me more time and more reason to get it done. It’s nothing serious; it’s not really attached to the confession I made.
How has life been treating you since your confession?
Life has been great. Even though, in the first few days after the confession that went viral, the backlash kind of affected my mental health. But because I’m this kind of person who looks on to God and not man, I’ve always been very attached to God, so it wasn’t difficult for me to find my feet spiritually, mentally and physically. Yes, things were tough for some days but over time, I had to deal with the situation in my head. And as the days went by, I was motivated and became stronger.
Have you been in any movie recently, how was the reception on set?
No, I haven’t been on set and that’s deliberate. I felt I needed to do some self-healing before I go for any job. And then, I had some personal emergencies that came up, so I’ve not even considered getting back to work. I think that would happen depending on how ready I am.
Some of your colleagues didn’t stand by you during those trying times. Are you holding it against them?
I am not holding anything against them. People have their personal beliefs, faiths, decisions and characters, because we came from different homes and areas of life. People know what they know. People are people, so I don’t blame them. That’s how they felt and it’s their way of expressing what they felt. I didn’t even expect it because when you expect something, you could get disappointed. I knew that I was not going to get support from Nollywood, and that if I did, it’s going to be very few people who are going to say, ‘Oh… I know Chioma, she did this and I think it’s worth it’. But I wasn’t surprised at all and I don’t hold anything against anybody, nothing! I totally understand their position and like I told one of them, ‘what I did was bigger than anybody, and anyone who feels bad about it, I’ll let them. But with time everyone will understand’.
Many people accused you of trying to extort money from Apostle Johnson Suleman. How would you react to that?
That’s laughable. The people who know me know that money does not freak me. What freaks me is character. Money and power do not move me. I need money but money is not everything. There’s a way I see life and there are things I value more than money. Extort whom? How much is he going to give me? Do you know the guilt I carried all these years for something that I did? I knew that I did it out of desperation; I did it because I wasn’t acting right. So, fast-forward to today, I’m dealing with the guilt and I come out to spill it and people say I want to extort the person? I don’t know how it works but even if they bring one billion dollars, I can’t be moved. The truth is the truth. It’s a fact, it’s bigger than me, the universe has taken record and there is something bigger than the universe, something bigger than money and something that puts us here. We must always think beyond that. The day the world was created, the day everything you see was put together, money was not in the concept. Man conceptualized money and so, why would I want to do anything of that magnitude because of money? No, that’s totally wrong. I never did it to extort money from anybody; it’s just for my faith. So, children of God, I did it for my society and that’s what will matter for decades; for centuries, that’s what will count, not money.
How did you feel when the cleric denied your claims?
Did he deny it? The video that came out where he was saying something related (to the incident) was an old video. Apostle Suleman has not said anything about my confession. He hasn’t said anything to the best of my knowledge and that is subject to investigation. To the best of my knowledge, he hasn’t responded, he hasn’t said yes or no. But if by any chance he said it’s a fabricated story or that I’m lying or that he is denying, it’s totally fine. I made an open confession, whoever that feels that what I said is false, he knows what to do, he knows where to go, I’m going to meet him there and the truth shall be established.
Have you reached out to him since then?
I haven’t reached out to him because there’s no need for it. I lost his number way back; after the second time we met, I deleted his number and moved on. But even, if I want to get his number or if I have it, there’s actually no need (to call him). He’s a married man and we have no business and association whatsoever. So, there is no need to reach out to him. If he does reach out to me, I don’t even think there’s anything we are going to talk about. So, I’m afraid I might even be available for that sort of communication. But I hold nothing against him. In fact, I appreciate the fact that he has not said or reacted much about this. Maybe, he’s done personal healing or repentance, that’s fine. But the truth needed to be said and established.
Some people said you should have donated the money Apostle Suleman gave you to charity? Did you do that?
Giving the money out to charity is not a big deal. If that’s right, if that’s in order, I’m going to do it. The first money was N250,000 and it was split because it was Linda Clems that gave that part to me. The second was the one he (Apostle Suleman) gave me directly and that was N300,000. So, it’s a total of N550,000. I can give the money back to him, to his (church) members or to the society, but I need to be sure that it’s the right thing to do. So, that’s not a big deal. If that will help for the evil done, the evil of adultery with a man of God, if that is going to help for God to have mercy, why not? I’ll gladly do it.
Why did you actually call out Apostle Suleman?
I did it because of my repentance, my walk with Christ, my new life, and my resolution to be a better person in Christ Jesus. Secondly, I’m an activist and I work with the community. There are people out there who are working hard to make sure that oppressors are being thoroughly dealt with. So, if a man of God becomes oppressive and the people he is fighting are the same people in my community, the same colleagues, it’s not something you sit on, it’s not something you ignore.
How do you think people will see me if I ignore it? How do you think that would make me look? What would be the reason for being quiet about such a thing that I know about this man, even when it affects me directly? So, it didn’t come out of a desire to destroy anybody, it came out as a warning to people who feel that when they do things, it’s concealed and they become so big, and that people are not going to be courageous enough to come out and say the truth.
Do you regret ever confessing your ‘sins’ publicly?
I have no iota of regret, not even one. In fact, I feel so great. A lot of great things have been happening to me from the day I made that confession. It’s been a life-changing experience. So, why should I regret it? I did it because of my God and service to humanity. It cost me a lot, but it’s always at a cost that something new and good would happen. It’s always at a cost, a very sacrificial cost. So, yes, I did it, and I’m proud of it. I own it and I don’t regret it.
How did your fiancé, your family react to the whole thing?
My fiancé was quite supportive because he was the first person I confessed to; I told him everything and many more. He’s been in the picture even before I got baptized, he knows my spiritual life; he knows my relationship with God. So, when it was time, I told him. I said, ‘this is what happened and I’m sorry. If you don’t want to continue the relationship, that’s okay’ and he said ‘no, I love that you are bold enough to tell me this. I want you to make it public, I can’t keep it down anymore’. And I said, ‘fine, if that’s what’s going to help you, then who am I not to do it?’ So, my fiancé was very supportive, and thanks to him that I pulled through strongly. However, my family was tough, the calls and questions like ‘how can you do this?’ came up; everyone was angry. But I thank God for our spiritual leader who told them that it was good that I confessed. He said it might not be good for man but it’s good for God as He approves of it.
Do you think this issue would jeopardize your chances of getting married in future?
Jeopardized my chances of getting married? No, never! In fact, it is even now that more suitors are coming for me! I have suitors today and I will always have suitors. I’m not worried; marriage is a done deal. I can’t even marry a dumb person, because it’s only a dumb that would say ‘I can’t marry you because of your past’. Why? Okay, are you trying to say if I didn’t say anything, and I keep quiet about my past would make me any better? Some people have done worst things, terrible things. I think that’s even the best wife or husband to have, people who are ready to spill the truth whenever and at any cost. So, my suitors have even increased. I’m now the one to make a choice. I’m the one to decide who and when.