A controversial Islamic cleric accused of blaspheming Prophet Muhammad’s companions, Abduljabbar Kabara, on Saturday appeared in a public debate organised by the Kano State government for him to defend his comments.
But Mr Kabara refused to answer questions from his opponents, despite being the one who requested the public debate.
The moderator, Salisu Shehu, a professor of Islamic Studies, ruled that Mr Kabara “consistently strayed off the topic of discussion and avoided answering questions asked him.”
Mr Shehu ruled the cleric’s earlier comments on Prophet Muhammad’s companions “were his personal opinion, not part of Islamic teaching” as he claimed.
On every topic raised, Mr Kabara dodged questions and refused to open a book in his posession to clarify comments he made, citing short timing and not being fully prepared for the discussion, the judge said.
Mr Kabara also faulted the guidelines and time frame of the debate.
He said 10 minutes given by the moderator were not enough for him to respond adequately and that he needed more time to prepare himself.
After the debate, the state Commissioner for Religion Affairs, Muhammad Tahar, said he would present the report to Governor Abdullahi Ganduje for appropriate action.
Ban over comments
The state government had on February 4 banned Mr Kabara from public preaching following his alleged derogatory comments against Prophet Muhammad’s companions.
However, the embattled cleric denied the allegations and demanded a public debate with his colleagues whom he accused of misinterpreting his preaching.
The state government had also shut down Mr Kabara’s mosques and centres across the state and confined him to his house since February at ‘Filin Mushe’, a densely populated underserved community in Gwale in Kano metropolis.
The government also directed broadcast stations and social media platforms to stop airing “inflammatory preaching, sermons, propagation and any other religious discussions in the interest of peace and tranquility in the state.”
The government sid Mr Kabara’s mode of teachings is incendiary.
Ganduje appeals for peace
Meanwhile, Mr Ganduje had earlier appealed for peace while assuring that his government would not allow religious extremists to start a violent crisis in the state again.
The governor recalled the havoc caused by the Maitatsine crisis in Kano and spoke of how negative religious perceptions gave birth to the Boko Haram crisis in Maiduguri.
The Maitastine crisis, which occurred between 1979 and 1980, was triggered by the activities of the followers of a Kano-based Cameroonian cleric, Muhammad Marwa.
Over 5,000 people were reportedly killed in the crisis, including Mr Marwa and several police officers and soldiers.
“In Kano, we won’t allow the repeat of Maitatsine and we will not treat Mr Kabara’s threats with kids’ glove as was done with his accomplice in Zaria,” Mr Ganduje said in an apparent reference to Ibrahim El-zakzaky, the detained leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (Shi’ite).
He said the government was determined to ensure peaceful coexistence in the state and called for the support of the people.
The governor also said “it has enough evidence on Mr Kabara’s activities”, and lamented that “the people did not act early to stop him”.
Mr Kabara is controversial for his religious commentaries and lavish spending mostly on his youthful followers.