Isa Ibrahim Pantami, Nigeria’s Communication and Digital Economy Minister’s fanatical indoctrinated past is perching on him like a leech as some of his hardline quotes have resurfaced.
Pantami was quoted to have said “this jihad is an obligation for every single believer, especially in Nigeria,’’ in one of his vicious preaching in the 2000s.
The embattled minister was also quoted to have prayed “Oh God, give victory to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda,” during the same period.
Even though he has renounced terrorism pleading that his outburst, as at that time, was based on his knowledge immaturity, massive outrage and demand for his sacking continued on social media on all through the weekend and Sunday.
Speaking during his daily Ramadan lecture in Abuja on Saturday, Pantami said, “For 15 years, I have moved round the country while educating people about the dangers of terrorism. I have travelled to Katsina, Gombe, Borno and Kano states, and Difa in the Niger Republic to preach against terrorism.
“I have engaged those with Boko Haram ideologies in different places. I have been writing pamphlets in Hausa, English and Arabic. I have managed to bring back several young persons who have derailed from the right path.”
He added, “Some of the comments I made some years ago that are generating controversies now were based on my understanding of religious issues at the time, and I have changed several positions taken in the past based on new evidence and maturity.”
He said, “I was young when I made some of the comments. I was in the university. Some of the comments were made when I was a teenager.
He acknowledged that “many scholars and individuals didn’t understand some international events and, therefore, took some positions based on their understanding. Some have come to change their positions later.”
Even though one of his aides, Uwa Suleiman, reportedly told Sunday PUNCH that Pantami had always kicked against acts of terrorism and wondered why he was being attacked on terrorism issues.
Most security experts, as reported by The Punch insisted, “though Pantami claimed to have renounced his support for terrorist groups, the minister was not worthy of being entrusted with information as sensitive as Nigerians’ data.”
He urged Pantami to apologise to Nigerians and resign from his appointment.
The National President of Criminology and Security Practitioners Association of Nigeria, Williams Ekposon, said “in the light of the position he is holding, Nigerians are not secure; our data are not secure with somebody who had wept sentiments with terrorists. A terrorist is a psychedelic being. If a sensitive public office holder has made a statement that is in connection to terrorists, there is something fishy about it. He should apologise to Nigerians and humbly resign. Let it be that the appointment was made in error.”
The Punch also reported that, a Lagos-based security expert, Dickson Osajie, advised the minister to tender his resignation on account of his “romance with terrorists” in the past.
He stated, “The problem we have in Nigeria is that we don’t carry out effective pre-employment screening before we employ people into strategic positions. The office Pantami is occupying is one of the most sensitive positions.
“We are not talking about repentance here; we are talking about national security. I read one of his articles where he said he had repented.
“But the truth is that the comment he made resulted in instigating terrorist groups. I don’t think people like that are qualified to hold public offices. People must be held accountable for their statements and actions.”
“Since he had in previous times had mercy on Al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups, that shows that he had romanced terrorism before. Whoever has romanced terrorism before is an enemy of the state. He needs to tender a public apology and resign from his appointment. I cannot trust that kind of person because I don’t know his level of repentance.”
With reports from: Punch