Muslim cleric threatens Nigeria’s First Lady for serving as a pastor

By CDI Staff |
First Lady, Federal Republic of Nigeria, H.E. Oluremi Tinubu
First Lady, Federal Republic of Nigeria, H.E. Oluremi Tinubu speaks onstage during the 2023 Concordia Annual Summit at Sheraton New York on September 18, 2023 in New York City. | John Lamparski/Getty Images for Concordia Summit

A Muslim cleric has come under heavy criticism after he called for the killing of Senator Oluremi Tinubu, Nigeria’s First Lady. A video emerged of the cleric describing Senator Oluremi as an “infidel” who should be killed for being a pastor.

“Tinubu’s wife is an unbeliever and even among the unbelievers, she is a leader,” said Idris Tenshi, an Islamic cleric during a sermon in the local Hausa language.

The cleric quotes the Quran as a basis for his claims but did not provide the specific chapter or verse to back his claim justifying the call to kill the First Lady.

“She is among those that Allah has instructed us to kill because she is among the leaders of the unbelievers,” he said in the undated video circulating on social media.

Senator Oluremi is an ordained minister with the Redeemed Christian Church of God and is married to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a Muslim who served as the Governor of Lagos State from 1999 to 2007.

Following widespread condemnation, the cleric appeared on a recent video apologizing to the First Lady and admitted that his comments were “a mistake”.

“I would like to pass this message to Nigerians regarding a video circulating on social media. All the things I said were a mistake and I don’t stand on the words I said. Other clerics have given me a proper explanation of the verse that I quoted,” said the cleric.

In a 2020 interview in TVC, Sen. Oluremi said that her faith has not been a source of conflict with President Tinubu.

“The point is he is quite respectful of my faith and if someone respects you it is quite right you show the same respect. He respects my faith, I respect his so there is no conflict,” said Sen. Oluremi who gave her life to Christ when she was exiled to the US in the 80’s.

The Youth Wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWICAN) called for the arrest and prosecution of the cleric urging security authorities to take urgent action against the cleric. The chairman of YOWICAN’s National Executive Council, Belusochukwo Enwere, in a statement said that the cleric should be restricted from preaching in Nigeria.

“The NEC is giving the federal government and security agencies to act immediately to avoid further deterioration of the security situation in the country because of the unguided statement or utterance,” said Enwere.

Chief convener of Arewa Think Tank, Muhammad Yakubu, also condemned the clerics comments terming them “unacceptable”.

There has been rising cases of religious intolerance in Nigeria. 12 states in the North, for instance, have enacted penal sharia law and there have been increasing cases of lynching on the basis of illegal and unproven ‘blasphemy’ accusations. In one of these states, Islamic police arrested a popular TikToker on 13 February for posting ‘indecent and un-Islamic’ content.

A report by the Observatory of Religious Freedom in Africa revealed that abductions and attacks on communities based on religion increased from 2020, 2021 and 2022 periods. The report included attacks by Islamist jihadists Boko Haram, herder-farmer conflicts and retaliatory attacks. In 2022, 4,877 Christians were killed.