Insinuations linking communications minister Isa Pantami to the death of former Kaduna governor Patrick Yakowa should be ignored.
This is according to the chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Kaduna state chapter, John Joseph Hayab.
Pantami, who is under fire for once holding views in support of terror groups, had allegedly chaired a zonal meeting of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) in July 2010 where plans were allegedly hatched to kill Yakowa.
Yakowa eventually died in December 2012 in a helicopter crash in Bayelsa state alongside Owoye Azazi, retired general and former national security adviser (NSA).
In a document now making the rounds as the purported minutes of the meeting allegedly chaired by Pantami in 2010, Yakowa and his family members were marked out to be killed for holding Christian views.
But reacting in a statement, Hayab, who served as religious affairs adviser to Yakowa, said such allegations should not be considered until proper investigations are done.
“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,” he said.
“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.
“Society’s discomforts and disagreements should, however, not be enough reasons for us to approve the circulation of phony and injurious statements against any perceived foe. However, we consider that the communique could be doctored. We are aware that in this age of technological advancements, we have to take any allegations with a pinch of salt until we are confident of the authenticity of the source.
“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.”
He said, to be sure, when Yakowa died, there was no inquiry to determine the cause of his death, aside from the immediate and likely technical fault leading to the helicopter crash.
He said the Christian community and indeed his immediate family acknowledged the tragedy, submitting to the will of God Almighty.
“And for that purpose, 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,” he said.
The cleric said those with an axe to grind with Pantami should do so within their limits.
He said as a church leader, he chose to speak because of his deep belief that justice is natural.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
He added that those who feel they have information to help the security agencies investigate whatever crimes against groups or individuals should do so within the provided window, without exacerbating the tension of formulating tales in the public space.