Murder for hire, By Wole Olaoye

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Reading Time: 5 mins read

I believe that every man and woman is entitled to subscribe to whatever religion they fancy. I believe that religion is designed primarily to draw God’s creatures to Him. As someone privileged to have a rich admixture of Muslims, Christians and Ifa devotees within the extended family, I have come to realise that religious bigotry is borne out of ignorance and mischief. That is the background of my aversion to the weaponisation of religion to create cleavages and disharmony among otherwise peaceful people.

Wanted Fugitive

The name Idris Abdulazeez Dutsen Tanshi didn’t actually ring a loud bell nationally until he was declared wanted by the police recently in Bauchi for the alleged contempt of court. A cursory search revealed that he is an influential Islamic cleric of the extremist hue, who enjoys considerable attention in some traditional circles. 

He has been playing hide-and-seek with the police since 2022 when he was arraigned in Bauchi, for alleged blasphemous remarks. He was also charged with “inciting public disturbance, insulting or inciting contempt of religious creed.” In one of his fiery audio missiles, he threatened to go on exile in the face of alleged persecution by the state governor, Bala Mohammed.

But the police issued a special bulletin last week declaring the cleric wanted and seeking the assistance of the public in apprehending him. “If seen, arrest and hand over to the nearest police station or to the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Criminal Investigation Department, Bauchi State Command, or call 08151849417, 09048226246”. 

An undisclosed reward awaits whoever is able to apprehend Idris or provide information leading to his arrest. The police declaration came after Dr Idris Dutsen Tanshi failed to appear before the Upper Shari’a Court 1 in Bauchi to continue his trial on charges of purported incitement to public disturbance.

The release of the police bulletin came at a time when an incendiary video clip of a little-known cleric trended massively on social media because it pole-vaulted from religious idiocy to an unmistakable campaign for murder. The attention-seeking bigot is so unknown that newsmen were unable to match the face with a name throughout the week. Apparently, he is not one of the big fishes in the pond, but he surely aspires to be a religious piranha.

Homicidal Cleric

In the video, the attention-seeking man claims that the Holy Quran specifically ordered the killing of spouses of Muslims who refuse to be converted to their husband’s Islamic religion. He did not provide the specific verses of the Quran where he lifted his horrendous injunctions, from but said enough to instigate any maniac sufficiently depraved to consider the murder of President Tinubu’s wife, Oluremi, as a religious duty.

“Now, Tinubu, his wife is an infidel. As a pastor, she is a leader among the infidels. God’s judgement says she must be killed. She’s a pastor… a leader of infidels (Christians); Allah says they must be killed… The Koran says all those kinds of people should be killed. Tinubu as a Muslim is not supposed to marry a woman who is an infidel. When such a person as Tinubu can’t convert his wife to become a Muslim, what is the value of the Muslim/Muslim ticket?”

The message that this loonie is passing to his listeners is that killing Nigeria’s First Lady on account of her religious beliefs is a sacred duty. Measure for measure, this man is an infinitely more dangerous man than the fugitive Idris because, though allegedly extremist and incendiary, Idris hasn’t yet declared a fatwa on any Nigerian on account of his faith. Or, perhaps I missed something there? 

As to be expected, the internet has been set ablaze by the mindless verbal terrorism of this wannabe sheik. However, the preponderance of opinion on the call for the assassination of Mrs Tinubu is that the so-called cleric could do with psychiatric help. Some of the more pointed reactions came from fellow Muslims who felt embarrassed that a man who claimed to be a cleric was misrepresenting their faith in the service of a political agenda.

Former Senator Shehu Sani observed that the cleric had crossed the red line: “Criticising the Government and its policies is within the ambit of democratic rights; but calling for the killing of Senator Remi Tinubu by the religious cleric is unacceptable and utterly condemnable.”

Political activist Aisha Yesufu also weighed in: “What the heck is wrong with these clerics? Killed for her religion? What brand of Islam are these clerics practicing? This is a direct threat. She should be killed because she does not practice his religion? Has he been killed for not practicing other people’s religion? When it is time to do bambiala he will not care that she is not a Muslim. These fanatics make me want to puke!”

One commentator, “mustiboy”, thought it was time the cleric was canned. “That man should be arrested. Na dem they brainwash our people. I’m a Muslim but this is not what Islam teaches. They need to make that man an example. Arrest him asap,” said “mustiboy.”

However, if the intention of the hate vending cleric was to cause religious disharmony and disaffection, he had partial success in the intemperate exchanges between some younger elements in the society, who saw his instigation to murder as proof that project Nigeria is not workable. Some seized the opportunity to chip in their own biases and validate age-long stereotypes, arguing that the true face of Islam can only be found in those sections of the country where Muslims live in harmony with adherents of other religions.

Condemnation 

The most positive outcome for me is that all the commentators, no matter the amount of bile spewed, condemned the nameless cleric for openly advertising a murderous intent covered with religious icing. And such commentaries came from people from all walks of life and across the various political divides. The baying for blood was not considered a partisan issue; killing of innocent Nigerians because of their faith is wrong, ungodly and evil. On those scores, Nigerians are in unanimity.

The politicians are unanimous in condemning the hate vendor because they know from history that, “If you don’t speak out in condemnation when they are openly advertising the proposed murder of your opponent’s spouse, no one will come to your aid when it gets to the turn of your wife to face the cudgels of the mindless mob.” 

By the way, where does the Ignoramus want to start in a multi-religious world where there are 2.4 billion Christians, 1.2 billion non-religious, 1.1 billion Hindus, 506 million Buddhists and 100 million adherents of African Traditional Religion, among other faiths?

Many have wondered what is delaying the police in reining in the murder instigator. Perhaps the police are thinking that ignoring the man would deny him the publicity he is obviously seeking. But that is a faulty logic. Evil does not disappear just because you refuse to acknowledge it. Evil festers. Then it spreads. And before you know it, some street urchins will be gunning for the jugular of some notable non-Muslim in obedience to the preachment of some misguided mallam.

It is true that times are hard today more than ever before. Many Nigerians operate on very short fuses. It takes very little irritation to ignite the flame of discord. Thank God, Nigerian Muslims know that their Christian brothers are not their problem. People like the homicidal cleric are half-baked religious artisans who try to make up for their lack of depth and theological expertise, with outrageous claims about God instructing them to spill innocent blood.

Over To IGP

This is one time that the Inspector General of Police should show the lion in him. Drag this fellow before the court of law to teach him that instigation to murder is a crime. Otherwise, you may not have long to wait before the followers of such misguided preachers begin to execute the pseudo-divine directives of their barbarous clerics.

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