The Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), top Islamic body, has refuted allegations linking it and Isa Pantami, minister of communications and digital economy, to the death of Patrick Yakowa, ex-governor of Kaduna state.
The JNI said on Friday that such reports are “disheartening” and “disgusting”, adding that it never held a meeting on such a matter when Yakowa was alive.
An unverified document that has gone viral claims the embattled minister allegedly chaired a JNI meeting where plans were alleged to have been made to kill Yakowa.
The document is being shared as a communique adopted at the zonal meeting held in Bauchi in 2010, two years before the former governor died in a helicopter crash in Bayelsa alongside Owoye Azazi, former national security adviser (NSA).
It emerged amid the controversy generated by the minister’s past extremist views in support of terror groups which he has recanted.
In a statement signed by Khalid Aliyu, its secretary-general, JNI said the allegations are designed to tarnish its image and that of other Muslim organisations.
“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,” the organisation said.
“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?”
JNI asked security agencies to immediately investigate the allegation and fish out those behind it.
“This should be treated with utmost urgency and the JNI is ready to fully cooperate with the security agencies in this regard,” it added.
John Joseph Hayab, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Kaduna, who served as religious affairs adviser to Yakowa, had also dismissed the allegations.
He had said, “there is no point, now or later, to open up what will not bring back Yakowa but rather open up old wounds in a very controversial manner.”