Lemu who is the Director Research and Training, Islamic Education Trust (Da’wah Institute of Nigeria) said the scholars were killed because they opposed and preached against the terrorists ideologies.
He told The Nation in an interview that today many scholars are afraid to counter the terrorists’ ideologies because of fear of assassination by the extremist groups.
Lemu said: “We have some very knowledgeable ulamas and scholars, but the problem is that many knowledgeable scholars who counter the arguments of Boko Haram/ISWAP have been killed by them. When you know by talking against them they will kill you, why will you talk? When the security personnel, politicians and soldiers are being killed by Boko Haram, why should you risk your life?
“On record, we have been able to tally up to 64, at least, scholars that have been killed by Boko Haram, from inception to date. They were killed because they spoke against Boko Haram. Many ulamas are naturally afraid to speak. Many have gone into hiding. Many were threatened, and some had to leave the country.”
He urged security agencies to provide adequate protection to those that are threatened, because they are doing the service for common good.
On what the incoming administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu should do to fight violent-extremism in the country, Lemu said the incoming administration should support organizations that are involved in countering extremist ideologies and also revised the university curriculum of religious studies.
He said: “Presently in our university curriculum for Islamic studies, there is no recognition for deliberate engagement with people of other religions. When you look at extremism in the university curriculum, it contains things about various extremist groups that existed in the past, but they don’t study the modification and evolution of modern day extremist groups.“I have been on a board of a particular university to review the curriculum, and we also got the curriculum of about five universities and they are the same. Boko Haram has been with us for the past 13 years, isn’t it enough to study its ideology? It is like people who are busy studying medicine but don’t want to study the current diseases and the current cure for the diseases.
“So when it comes to tackling religious extremism, I think both Islamic and Christian curriculum should be revised. We need to emphasize building resilience against extremism and better inter-faith engagements. This is to prepare the students when they become teachers of Islamic or Christian studies on strategies to counter violent-extremism.
“We have some best practices that are already working well. We have many organisations that have been countering extremist recruitment, but have to do it very quietly. The incoming administration should support them to train more scholars and imams on how to counter extremist ideologies.
“Governments also need to engage in more peace building, and support more organisations involved in bridge building, both at the national and local levels, especially the National Inter-religious Council (NIREC), which comprises Muslim and Christian scholars. It should identify areas where there have been problems in the past between the major religions in the country because those are the areas problems are most likely to reoccur, and look at what kind of peace and reconciliation that is needed in those areas.”