John Joseph Hayab, Chairman of the Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has said insinuations linking Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, to the death of Patrick Yakowa, a former governor of the state, may have an adverse impact on the peace and national security of the country.
Hayab made this known in a statement on Thursday in reaction to a publication about a purported meeting which discussed how to exterminate Yakowa.
Pantami has been subject to intense criticism in recent days after his 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.
He, however, renounced his previous comments last Saturday, saying that he made some of the statements when he started his preaching at a young age based on his understanding of religious issues and that his views have now changed having got more enlightened over the years.
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 in a statement, Hayab, who served as religious affairs adviser to the late Yakowa, said he is alarmed by the allegation, noting that there was no inquiry from the family and the Christian community to determine the cause of his death, aside from the immediate and likely technical fault leading to the helicopter crash.
He, however, insisted that such allegations should not be considered until they are properly scrutnised by the security agencies.
The statement read: “I am alarmed by the dangerous turns of events, especially the issue linked with the release of some documents with doubtful authenticity linking the embattled minister, Pantami and the Muslim community with the death of His Excellency, Sir Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa.
“The church and Yakowa’s family consider the allegation very serious with a possible adverse impact on peace and national security. Consequently, the church expresses strong reservations and concerns about statements like the ones associated in the past by Pantami as circulated in audios and videos released on social media.
“Sensitive documents like the ones purported to be from the JNI meeting in Bauchi should be subjected to thorough security investigation and trials, not tools for social media warfare. The danger of making this a media issue, instead of a legal and security issue that it ought to be, is that we stand to lose the most important point; that of bringing to justice persons accused to have wronged the law.
“Accordingly, there is a need for circumspection and care so that we do not throw our communities into further chaos in the rush to hang one man. At a time of strained relationships between neighbours, what we need are mediatory interventions and peace building, rather than adding fuel to the raging fire.”
Hayab said those who have a grouse with Pantami should do so within their limits. instead of using the late Yakowa as a proxy in their fights.
He urged Nigerians to dismiss the allegations until they are proven.
The statement read: “Besides, if we support unverified allegations against someone today because we loathe the person, the monster could be deployed against us or someone we cherish tomorrow.
“As someone very close to the late Yakowa, I call on all Nigerians to ignore the insinuations linking Pantami with Sir Yakowa’s death, endangering national peace. This, I call on security agencies to step in and tame the circulation of such dangerous documents.”
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