Professor Samuel Achi, a former lecturer of Industrial Chemistry at the Kaduna State University, has said Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, was the Chief Imam of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ABTU) mosque when his son, Sunday, was killed in the mosque.
Recounting his son’s ordeal in an interview published on Thursday, Achi said the late Sunday was strangled to death in the mosque for alleged blasphemy on December 9, 2004.
The claim by the professor comes amidst the intense criticism Pantami has been subject to 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 the 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.
But the renunciation did not spare the minister from a deluge of criticisms, with some Nigerians calling on him to either resign or be sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to Achi, his late son, who was the leader of the students’ fellowship of the Evangelical Church Winning All Ministry, was alleged by the Muslim students of having circulated a tract that contained blasphemous content.
The professor claimed the Pantami-led Muslim community at the university pronounced a ‘fatwa’ on his 24-year-old son and 400-level student of Architecture at ATBU at the time and killed over the allegation in the school’s mosque.
He claimed that the Muslim students killed his son and threw his body off ATBU mosque, adding that he was able to retrieve the remains of Sunday with the intervention of the then governors of Kaduna and Bauchi states.
Achi insisted that his son did not share any tract containing blasphemous content.
“The incident happened in the early hours of the 9th of December (2004). It was from the night of December 8 to the early hours of December 9 that it happened. From the fact that I had; from clear indications; from the confirmed information that I had, he was not stoned. He was actually strangled inside the mosque. His body was discovered outside the university mosque,” Achi told the Punch.
The academic, who said he had forgiven all those involved in the killing of his son, however, emphasised that were Pantami, who was the then chief imam of the mosque, a man of peace, the killing of his son may not have occurred.
He said: “As a Christian, my belief is that even though they killed him by pronouncing fatwa against him, he was doing God’s work, so, I don’t think we have to worry about it. God has comforted us and we have been able to forgive everybody that did that terrible act.
“Of course, we have no control over it but the blood of my son would always hunt whoever has a hand in killing him.”
When asked specifically by the newspaper if he knew that Pantami was the Chief Imam at the ATBU mosque at the time of his son’s death, the professor, who sounded dejected, said: “Of course yes, it is all over the place, I don’t want to go back on that.”
“We are not surprised to hear news out of it. We have actually forgiven everybody involved in his killing.”
A top official of ATBU also told the newspaper that Sunday was killed in December 2004 when Pantami was the Chief Imam of the school.
“We lost a student called Sunday Achi in 2004 when Pantami was the Chief Imam. Pantami was a student but was later retained in the school,” the official said.
However, when contacted, Pantami’s media aide, Uwa Suleiman, said the claim by Achi was untrue.
The minister’s aide said, “The allegations are not true. Do your research but the allegations are not true,” the newspaper quoted her as saying.