THE Presidency is keeping sealed lips despite public outcry that has greeted controversial statements made in the past by Minister of Communication and Digital Economy Ali Isa Pantami in support of terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Taliban.
The Presidency has so far remained silent on the matter as Nigerians demand the sack or resignation of the minister.
Nigerians began using hashtags, #PantamiResign and #PantamiResignNow, to demand his resignation after multiple reports accused him of endorsing terrorism and genocidal act.
Pantami was appointed in 2019 as a minister at the inception of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second tenure after spending three years (2016-2019) as the Director-General and CEO of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
The ICIR had earlier reported that Pantami’s statements of admiration for the Taliban’s, Al-Qaeda and Jihad came from some of his preaching and lecture recordings translated by a professor and African expert at Naples University in Italy Andrea Brigaglia, and a Nigerian scholar Musa Ibrahim of the University of Florida in the United States, both of whom contributed to the academic paper published in March 2019 that explored the emergence of Boko Haram in Nigeria.
Brigaglia, in his contributing paper to ‘Debating Boko Haram,’ documented how some clerics in Northern Nigeria, including Pantami, and late Sheikh Ja’afar Adam, who was assassinated at his mosque in 2007 in the northern city of Kano, created mass support for Jihadism in Nigeria.
The journal article was titled ‘The ‘Popular Discourses of Salafi Counter-Radicalism in Nigeria’ Revisited: A Response to Abdullahi Lamido’s Review of Alexander Thurston, Boko Haram.’
Calls to the known telephone numbers of both President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina and the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu were not answered.
Also, two text messages sent to both presidential aides asking whether President Buhari was aware of the allegations against Isah Pantami regarding his purported support for terrorist groups were not responded to as of the time filing this report.
The messages sent to the presidential aides were marked ‘delivered.’
A message to the Director of the State Security Service (SSS) Spokesperson Peter Afunanya, inquiring about the findings made by the SSS during the screening of Pantami and whether the SSS were aware of the previous controversial positions of the minister on terrorism and terrorist groups, was also not responded to.
FEC did not discuss Pantami – Lai Mohammed
Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday, said the Federal Executive Council did not discuss the issue of Isa Pantami during its meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mohammed, according to The Nation, told State House Correspondents that “I’m not going to go into the issue of whether government is comfortable or not. I will answer your question directly. It was not discussed at the council meeting.”
Buhari’s aide shows support for Pantami
Meanwhile, Personal Assistant to the President on Digital and New Media Bashir Ahmad, on Sunday, shared a solidarity photo with the embattled minister on his verified Facebook page.
Bashir shared a photo showing himself with Pantami at a function in Abuja.
Also on his Twitter handle @BashirAhmad, Bashir tweeted a photoset of quotes from Pantami in solidarity with the minister over calls for his resignation.
— Bashir Ahmad (@BashirAhmaad) April 17, 2021
No way DSS wouldn’t have done thorough checks on Pantami – Ex-SSS official
A former Director of the State Security Service (SSS) Mike Ejiofor has said that there is no way the SSS wouldn’t have done a thorough check before his appointment as minister in 2015.
The former SSS director said this during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Monday, stating that the secret service had prompted the Senate via a report which barred the National Assembly from confirming the appointment of a former acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu.
“I am not the spokesperson of the SSS, but I can tell you that it would be difficult for that information to have passed the State Security Service.
“They must have it on record of his sympathy for Al-Qaeda and some of these terrorist organisations. If the State Security Service submits a report on an individual to government and government fails to act on it, who is to blame?” he questioned.