The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, has issued a strong warning to the President of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Rev. Samson Ayokunle over his call that the Department of State Services, DSS, should probe the alleged link of the embattled Minister of Communications and Digital, Isa Pantami, to terrorism.
The group, led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Saad Abubakar, said this in a statement by its Deputy Secretary-General, Prof. Salisu Shehu, late Sunday.
The group also put up strong support for the Minister, describing criticism against his alleged link to terrorism as an attempt to tarnish the image of Islam.
NSCIA accused the CAN President of jumping into the ‘frontline of the unreasonable’ ones who have been criticising Pantami since controversies over the Minister’s alleged endorsement of terrorist activities became public.
The apex Islamic group in Nigeria added that the CAN President was ‘obviously driven by prejudice’ in asking the DSS to go after Pantami and ‘did not take into consideration the Minister’s very clear achievements on contributing to the development of Nigeria and indeed to nation-building and peace-making in making the call.
It also accused Ayokunle of neglecting the cordial relationship and mutual understanding and trust that exist between Christian and Muslim leaders in the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) to join in what it described as barrages and deluge of lies, fabrications and smear campaigns being churned out against Pantami.
NSCIA also claimed in the statement that because of such relationship, it did not ask for the arrest of “a one time prominent, active and vocal Christian Minister who at three different instances bailed the late leader of Boko Haram when the latter was arrested by the Nigerian Security agents.”
NSCIA said: “It becomes really appalling that the National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria would join the ignoble band-wagon of the architects of mischief who peddle lies and fabrications against the Honourable Minister.
“Forgetting the cordial relationship and mutual understanding and trust that exist between Christian and Muslim leaders in the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) and the painstaking efforts we are making to engender peaceful and harmonious co-existence amongst our followers, the President of CAN, obviously driven by prejudice, jumped into the frontline of the unreasonable ones, asking the DSS to go after Pantami.
“The National President of CAN needs to be reminded that the NSCIA has always exercised restraints on issues involving individual political office holders except when it becomes ultimately necessary like in the present case.
If the NSCIA has been as prejudicious and as pathologically hateful, it would have asked the Nigerian Government in 2008 and 2009 to arrest and investigate a one time prominent, active and vocal Christian Minister who at three different instances bailed the late leader of Boko Haram when the latter was arrested by the Nigerian Security agents.
“In fact, it is pertinent here to ask the CAN National President that between Honourable Minister Pantami who engaged the leader of Boko Haram in debates against his wrong and misguided ideologies and that Christian Minister who bailed Muhammad Yusuf three times who is it the country should rightly accuse of being a friend, supporter or member of the extremist group -Boko Haram?
“At this point, the NSCIA wishes to commend the courage, brevity, rightful intervention and patriotism of the Kaduna State Branch of CAN for standing up for truth and saying it as it is through their statement which unequivocally distanced Dr Pantami from the mischievous allegations peddled by purveyors of hatred with vilifying vituperation of venom as news causing confusion in the land.
It certainly takes brevity to say the truth and stand by it and on its side. This shows that the CAN President did not consult widely and it also shows that there are well-meaning Nigerians across all the divides.
“The NSCIA calls on Muslims and other well-meaning Nigerians to shun those trying to use any slightest opportunity to create disaffection among Nigerians.
Below is the statement;
The Nigeria Supreme Council For Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) under the leadership of His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Saad Abubakar, CFR,mni has been following heedfully and meticulously how the country and indeed, the world at large, have been so much inundated with barrages and deluge of lies, fabrications and smear campaigns being churned out against the person of the Honourable Minister of Communication and a Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami.
Knowing fully, with an unshakeable conviction that the Honourable Minister is a man of impeccable character, a genuine Islamic scholar, a responsible and right honourable public servant and a person globally recognized as a man of peace and integrity he would survive these campaigns of calumny and would come out clean and stronger when the storms of wicked lies wither away, as they definitely would. It would not take more than a layman’s intelligence to discern the lies contained in those stories and press releases. Besides the fact that they are surely the handiwork of premeditated and well-calculated plots of witch-hunt, they are as well obviously an outburst of hate, mischief and desperation all at the same time.
As it were, the NSCIA does not normally involve itself in addressing issues that affect individual persons, especially those holding political offices whether Muslims or Christians.
The NSCIA focuses on addressing issues rather than personalities. It has, however, been compelled to wade into this matter because of the dangerous dimensions it has taken. First, those whose stock-in-trade is hate and prejudice against Islam have found reasons albeit unfounded ones, to disparage him, pull him down and his religion as a Muslim scholar with all sorts of awful and dreadful publications.
Similarly, people that do not mean well for this country have also used the situation as a launchpad for fanning the embers of discord and causing disaffection to provoke nationwide violence and hostilities. In situations like this, it becomes imperatives to make rightful, just and honourable interventions.