Communications Minister Malam Isa Pantami is back in the headlines as Nigerians call for his immediate resignation over alleged ties with terrorist groups.
This follows a report from Peoples Gazette and Sahara Reporters quoting the minister declaring support for global terrorist groups, Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
It also comes in the wake of reports that the minister was on the U.S. terror watchlist for supporting Islamist terrorists Boko Haram.
Reacting to the scandalous report, Pantami had denounced and threatened to sue the media outfits over the publication which he described as false.
But fresh details have emerged after a 2019 academic document attributed to the minister titled ‘Debating Boko Haram’, shared by The Gazette, wherein he was quoted saying “this jihad is an obligation for every single believer, especially in Nigeria (hādhā jihād farḍ ‘ayn ‘ala kull Muslim wa-khuṣūṣan fī Nījīriyā),”
The vexatious 20-minutes long speech was reportedly concluded with the prayer, “Oh God, give victory to the Taliban and to al-Qaeda (Allahumma’ nṣur Ṭālibān wa-tanẓīm alQā‘ida).”
According to PG, Pantami’s research comments were published by top journal publisher academia.edu in March 2019, several months before his ministerial appointment by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), on August 21, 2019.
Reports revealed that the comments were translated by Professor Andrea Brigaglia, an African expert at Naples University in Italy. Nigerian scholar, Musa Ibrahim of the University of Florida in the United States, contributed to the paper that explored the onset of Boko Haram in Nigeria.
In a second speech, delivered in 2006, Pantami reportedly offered his public condolences for the death of the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, al-Zarqawi.
“May God have mercy on Aḥmad alFāḍil al-Khalayleh, raḥmatullāh’ alayhi. May God forgive his mistakes. He is a human being. He has certainly made some mistakes in front of God, so may God forgive his mistakes. Who am I talking about? He is Abū Muṣ‘ab al-Zarqāwī… It was the Commander of the Faithful (Amīr almu’minīn) Mollah Omar ‒ may God preserve him ‒ who personally gave him the authority to run this camp.”
Meanwhile, Peoples Gazette quoted Pantami as saying, “We are all happy whenever unbelievers are being killed… but the Sharia does not allow us to kill them without a reason.”
The news outfit also shared a video of Pantami expressing his utter rejection of public service and condemning his colleagues who took public appointments, vowing never to join them.
Isa Pantami expressing his utter rejection of public service.
He condemned his colleagues who took public appointments and vowed never to join them.
President Buhari ignored this and other views of Mr Pantami’s and put him in charge of Nigeria’s crucial telecoms infrastructure. pic.twitter.com/EKXksWkgqG
— Peoples Gazette (@GazetteNGR) April 15, 2021
The shocking publication has triggered outrage on Twitter as Nigerians demand the immediate resignation of the minister with the ‘#PantamiResign’ hashtag the top trending topic in Nigeria at the moment.
A Twitter user, @Oluwapelumi_SA, said it is dangerous for someone of Pantami’s position to declare support for global extremists.
“When I saw Dr. Patami’s declaration of support for Al-Qaeda, Taliban and Jihad. My mind went straight to the recent air strikes and several other ambushes against the military. It is far more dangerous for Minister of Communication to declare such support,” he said.
Another user @chosensomto wrote: “I will not join you people and have that “it was in the past” conversation, because it’s same as arguing “if a repented Boko Haram member can become a minister?” Terrorism is not a drinking habit you drop in the past; Pantami should resign immediately.”
@Ugonna37489321 opined that Pantami’s resignation is a preventive measure to kill the founder of al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden.
He wrote, “Pantami having access to NIN of all Nigerian citizens is the same thing as Osama bin ladin having access to our homes especially the kitchen…..pantami resignation is not an attack to the arewa people it’s a preventive measure to kill Osama bin Laden again.”
Meanwhile, popular journalist, Abdulaziz Abdulaziz with the username @Abdulfagge, opined that Pantami should not be judge with his past.
He wrote “…public officers deserve all the scrutiny. But while we’re at it we’ve to be thorough, fair & nuanced. Yes, we can dig the past but passing judgment would have to alongside context and current realities. A lot of people have had a severed past.”
Abdulaziz, the Premium Times reporter credited for reporting the alleged NYSC certificate forgery of former Finance Minister of Nigeria Kemi Adeosun, leading to her immediate resignation added that “We all have a past. Not everyone will escape if our past actions and speeches are used against our present positions. Opinions and stands do change in the face of new knowledge or facts, or even maturity. And being progressive, other than dogmatic is whole mark of great minds.”
Abdulaziz has however come under fire for his double standards on the issue of probity for public officials, with many dismissing him as a terrorist sympathizer and fraud.
Meanwhile, the presidency has yet to react to the call for Pantami’s resignation, even as many citizens express doubt that he would be fired.