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Reporter receives death threats from church members, asks security service for protection

(MRA/IFEX) - Mrs. Ibiene Rowland Ogundu, a reporter and programme presenter with Rivers State Television (RSTV) in Port Harcourt, South-South Nigeria, on 2 October 2008 petitioned the State Security Service (SSS), Nigeria's intelligence agency, in Port Harcourt over threats to her life from the presiding pastor and members of a Port Harcourt-based church, Salvation Ministries (aka Home of Success). The threats followed a documentary she made entitled "Prosperity, Right Here, Right Now".

The documentary, aired on RSTV at 10:00 p.m. (local time) on 27 September, looked at churches that preach instant prosperity. In the documentary, she used clips from a service of Salvation Ministries.

The church's presiding pastor, David Ibiyeomie, reportedly placed a curse on her and asked members of the church to also curse her and her family. Thereafter she began to receive text messages on her mobile phone, some threatening her and her family with death and others cursing her and her family for making a documentary that "cast aspersion on Salvation Ministries."

According to Mrs. Ogundu, on 28 September from about 7:30 p.m., "I began receiving death threat messages from those who say they are loyalists and members of Salvation Ministries. Some of these members informed me through phone calls how their pastor had stood on the pulpit that morning and issued death threats and also mandated his members to join force with him to put an end to my life in what he describes as the misrepresentation of the church to the public."

"The calls have not ceased as I have received over two thousand calls and countless text [SMS] messages that I have lost count of. The number and manner of these threats have become increasingly sickening and desperate. The threats are centred on my life and that of my family," she disclosed.

She therefore urged law enforcement agencies in the state to step into the matter as she was feeling very threatened.

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