Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna state chapter, John Joseph Hayab has urged the general public to ignore insinuations linking the minister of communications and digital economy, Isa Pantami to the death of a former governor of the state, Patrick Yakowa.
Pantami in a document making the rounds has been accused of chairing a zonal meeting of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) in July 2010 where plans were allegedly hatched to kill Yakowa and his family.
This followed the viral video which placed the minister under fire for once holding views in support of the Al-Qaeda and Talibans groups.
Yakowa in December 2012 died alongside a former National Security Adviser (NSA), Owoye Azazi in a helicopter crash in Bayelsa state.
In reaction to the allegations, the CAN chairman who served as religious affairs adviser to Yakowa when he was alive, urged that such accusation should not be considered until proper investigations are done.
Hayab in a statement said, “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 added, “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.”
The Cleric who stated that the Christian community and the former governor’s immediate family acknowledged the tragedy and submitted it to the will of God, added that no investigation was done to determine his death aside immediate and likely technical fault leading to the helicopter crash.
He said, “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.”
While calling those with an axe to grind with Pantami to do so within their limits, Hayab said he chose to speak because of his deep belief that justice is natural.
The church leader further said, “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.”
He encouraged anyone with necessary information to work with the security agencies in investigating whatever crimes against groups or individuals without aggravating the tension of formulating tales in the public space.