The Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), the apex Islamic body in Nigeria, has debunked allegations that it and Isa Pantami, Miniser of Communications and Digital Economy, plotted the assassination of Patrick Yakowa, a former governor of Kaduna State.
The JNI made the rebuttal in a statement signed by Khalid Aliyu, its Secretary-General, on Friday in reaction to a publication about a purported meeting which discussed how to exterminate Yakowa.
In a document now making the rounds, Pantami had allegedly chaired a zonal meeting of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) in July 2010 where plans were allegedly hatched to kill the late Yakowa, who eventually died in December 2012 in a helicopter crash in Bayelsa state alongside Owoye Azazi, retired general and former national security adviser (NSA).
But reacting, the JNI said the allegations are designed to tarnish its image and that of other Muslim organisations.
The religious body noted that there was no way Pantami, who is currently embroiled in a call for resignation after previous videos and audios of his sermons surfaced on social media, suggesting that he tacitly supported the activities of terrorist groups, including Taliban and Al-Qaeda, could not have chaired the meeting as he was not an executive member of JNI.
The statement read: “The JNI under the leadership of His Eminence Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR, mni, the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the JNI, was taken aback by the desperation of some disgruntled elements who in their desperate attempt to smear the image of the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy drag the name of the JNI as being part of an alleged plot to assassinate the late Governor Yakowa of Kaduna state.
“To start with, how could Sheikh Pantami chair a JNI meeting while he was not one of its leaders either at the National or state levels? What could have necessitated the combination of Bauchi, Plateau, Niger and Kaduna states from different geo-political zones in the meeting? If Yakowa was vehemently hated by the Muslims and were desperately trying to ‘get rid’ of him. How did he win the 2011 elections in a Muslim dominated state of Kaduna where a Muslim-Muslim ticket recently sailed through? Who voted him in?
“The so-called pieces of minutes shared by the media to further confuse and manipulate an average Nigerian’s mind into believing this orchestrated lie has further confirmed the desperation of the perpetrators. It is very perplexing and heart-rending that minutes of an assassination plot could be written and kept. How disheartening and disgusting!
“We thought the plot against Sheikh Pantami is politically motivated, but surprisingly it is assuming to be a more sinister dimension born out of a well thought-out scheme designed to smear and tarnish the image and the good name of the JNI and other Muslim organizations.
“Considering the various concerns raised by many citizens, vis’-a’- vis the attendant consequence of the scandalous allegation, we wish to place on record and for posterity that such never occurred and the JNI does not operate in such a dubious manner. We are at loss as to why is this allegation coming up just now, many years after the demise of Mr Yakowa?”
The JNI called on the security agencies to investigate the allegations and take actions against those circulating the controversial document.
“This should be treated with utmost urgency and the JNI is ready to fully cooperate with the security agencies in this regard,” it added.