Some Nigerians, on Monday, sent a deluge of requests to the Embassy of the United States of America, USA, in Abuja, trying to get more information and clarification on the alleged link of the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, to boko haram, al-qaeda, and other terrorist organisations around the world,
There was outrage over the alleged link of the Minister to the terrorists, when it was reported on Sunday, that he was on the watch list of America’s Intelligence Service.
Pantami however, as well as the Presidency, quickly denied the allegations, and threatened to initiate legal action against those who reported the alleged link.
At the time of writing this report, the US Embassy in its reaction to the alleged report said: “Thank you for your inquiry, however, we defer all Press inquiries on Minister Pantami to the FBI at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
According to the unconfirmed report indicting the Minister, he was said to be a former Student of Salafist Ideologies, trained in Saudi Arabia, and the Middle East, with other top Islamic Jihadists.
The report noted that before his appointment as a Minister, Pantami was a known Islamic Preacher, and held what was termed as ‘dangerous views’ against the American government, over its stance on al-qaeda.
The Minister was said to have been “a very close confidant of the slain Mohammed Yusuf, the Founder and Spiritual Leader of boko haram, with whom he allegedly shared Jihadist doctrines.
“According to Western Intelligence, the Minister had ties with Abu Quatada al Falasimi, and other al-qaeda Leaders, that he revered and spoke glowingly of in several of his videos on YouTube.
“According to Middle Eastern Intelligence, corroborated by its Western counterparts, photographs of Sheikh Isa Ali Pantami and his Jihadist allies are trending”, the report stated.
Several Nigerians have expressed outrage at the report, and also warned about the consequences of allowing Pantami to handle sensitive issues, such as the National Identification Number, NIN, registration, which they fear he may use to register those who are not Nigerians, especially terrorists.
Speaking on the vexed issue, Public Affairs Analyst, Dr. Katch Ononuju, said that the alleged US Intelligence on Pantami is a well-known Intelligence report, which is not new.
He said: “Pantami is in charge of the NIN, and that NIN is a form of formal documentation of those aliens that have come into the country, but you can see what it has now become, because trying to assimilate them into the society, is a problem.
“There are so many of them like Pantami still in government, but now that our international partners are beginning to work on this, we need to work hard to expose these people; they are internationally recognised Jihadists.”
Speaking further on the NIN registration, Ononuju blamed the President Muhammadu Buhari government for paying lip service to security.
He stated that “a lot of the data that Pantami will produce, will be subjected to further scrutiny and interrogation, as a lot of people registered in the NIN may not be Nigerians.”
Pantami has however, denied the allegation, and threatened legal action against the purveyors of the news item. In a tweet, he also claimed that he has been preaching against boko haram for 15 years.
The Minister claimed: “My lectures against the doctrines and all other evil people have been available for over 15 years, including debates that endangered my life against many criminals in Nigeria. If you cannot understand Hausa, get an objective Hausa Speaker to translate for you objectively.”
Pantami called on Nigerians to link their Subscriber Identification Modules, SIM, cards with their valid National Identity Numbers before May 6, 2021, warning that the Federal Government is set to expose criminal elements through the NIN-SIM data linkage.
He noted: “On the issue of NIN-SIM verification to fight insecurity, there is no going back. Our priority as government based on the provision of our Constitution 1999 (as amended) Section 14 (2) b is security, not just economy. For sure, no going back at all.”