Can Sterling Bank MD Joke With Mohammed? … More Outrage Trails Bank’s Odious Easter Message


Sterling Bank’s Easter message to Christians has continued to generate more outrage many hours after. The message which compared Jesus Christ to Agege bread, has left many wondering if the bank’s managing director, Abubakar Suleiman, who is of Muslim faith, would have tolerated such a joke if told about Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

This is even as the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), has vowed to sanction Sterling Bank over the ‘distasteful’ Easter message.

Recall that Sterling Bank had in the controversial message, said that Christ had risen, just like Agege bread, an attempt to draw an analogy between the resurrection of Christ which Christians celebrate on Easter Day, and the rising of bread when subjected to heat.

Agege bread’ is one of the most popular Nigerian breads, known for its puffy, soft, stretchy and chewy texture. It’s a slightly sweet white loaf, usually unsliced, oblong and baked in a tin, whose defining characteristic is that it’s fabulously soft and fluffy.

The bread is called Agege bread because it originated from a suburb in Lagos called Agege. Despite its sweetness, it’s alleged that the bread is not healthy for eating due to some ingredients used in its production.

According to Christian doctrine, Easter marks the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and his ascension into heaven. In essence, the bank was trying to depict that Jesus Christ rose like ‘Agege bread’ that are puffy.

The comparison, which triggered a wave of condemnation from Nigerians, had forced the bank to tender a sort of apology, asking, in reference to the Bible, that “let he who never sinned cast the first stone”.

However, the apology failed to assuage many who insisted that it was done halfheartedly, even as several commentators argue that the message was done in bad faith.

“How can you compare the rising of Jesus Christ with the rising of Agege bread?😡 is this a joke or what?” wrote @Airsae on Twitter. “Sterling bank, O wrong now!”

On his part, Omatsuli Oyekan, a member of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), wondered if the bank’s MD, Suleiman would joke with the Muslim prophet in the same manner.

“The agency that developed it is insane, the corporate comms person is equally mad and the MD is crazy. Can Sterling MD, Abubakar Suleiman joke with his Prophet Mohammed?” fumed Oyekan,

“They can never joke with their Mohammed like this, war will break out. Don’t give what you can’t take. It’s annoying.”

Also reacting to the message, David Oloyede, noted that “the agency that developed it is insane, the corporate comms person is equally mad and the MD is crazy. They can never joke with their Mohammed like this, war will break out.

“Don’t give what you can’t take. It’s annoying.”

Also condemning the message, another twitter user, The Revolutionary Seeker, @The_Seeker76, called for sanctions to be meted out to the bank.

“There must be a consequence for STUPIDITY & INSENSITIVITY,” he said. “@Sterling_Bankng MUST take disciplinary steps against all those involved in this unwarranted, public insult to the Christian Faith and it’s billions if followers.

“This is totally UNACCEPTABLE.”

A user equally alleged that the bank’s action may be because its MD is a Muslim.

“Is it because your MD, Abubakar Suleiman is a Muslim and you think you can humiliate Christians? Shameless and useless bank. All Christians must boycott this bank,” the user tweeted.

Another user, LaWreNce Karka, @karka_lawrence, said “Dear Sterling Bank, Your Easter message is really in bad taste. It is disingenuous and ludicrously mischievous.. You can do better.”

Meanwhile, as outrage grew on over the message, shared another post asking, in reference to the Bible, that “let he who never sinned cast the first stone.”

Again, many took exception to the apology, accusing the bank of displaying arrogance and passing it off for an apology.

Following outcries and anger over the ‘offensive’ message, Sterling Bank, rather than show remorse, further displayed arrogance in a follow-up tweet which seems to be an apology.

“First picture insulting the resurrection power of Christ Jesus. Giving a comparison with Agege bread. Sabi Agege was accused, tortured, crucified, died for the sins of who believed. Secondly picture giving us an apology and showing no remorse telling us we aren’t even qualified to… ” wrote Okeke Okechukwu, @amkingsleykk.

In response to the ‘insensitive’ message, the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, (APCON), said sanction will be meted out on Sterling Bank.

In a terse statement issued on Monday, the advertising industry regulator said that, “APCON will take necessary actions to ensure that Sterling Bank is sanctioned for the exposure of such offensive advertisement according to law and that no religious belief or faith is ridiculed or any blasphemous advertisement exposed in any issue.”

A statement signed by the Registrar/Chief Executive of APCON, Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo further stated that , APCON has observed with displeasure the insensitive and provocative Easter celebration advertisement by Sterling Bank Plc, which compared the resurrection of Christ with Agege bread.

Dr Fadolapo said, “The distasteful advertisement was neither submitted nor approved for exposure by the Advertising Standards Panel (ASP), the statutory panel charged with the responsibility of ensuring that advertisements conform to the prevailing laws of the federation as well as the code of ethics of advertising in Nigeria.

“We also found out that the brand management/ corporate communications department engaged a ‘roadside’ consultant to create the copy that has been found to have breached the advertising law in Nigeria.

“The bank has also run afoul of the law by not submitting the copy to ASP for approval before exposure.”



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