Murder, Al Shabaab, Al Qaeda links: Reason Isa Pantami is under fire
Isa Pantami, the minister of communications and digital economy, is facing the worst nightmare of his life, with his past actions coming back to haunt him and calling into question his moral right to remain in office.
The hashtag #Pantamimustgo has been trending on Twitter for the past few days as more revelations surface, not only about his past extremist beliefs, but also about his links to Al Shabaab, Al Qaeda, and Boko Haram.
When he was chief Imam of the mosque, he was accused of having a hand in the deaths of former Kaduna governor Yakowa and a Christian student at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in Bauchi.
Following the Fatwa issued by Imam Pantami, Professor Samuel Achi, a former lecturer at Kaduna State University, Kaduna, told The Punch that his son Sunday Achi, a 400 level architectural student, was killed by muslim students for blasphemying Islam.
This occurred on December 9, 2004.
Professor Achi has not forget. He said that his son was strangled in the mosque of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University.
He said that his 24-year-old son, Sunday Achi, was the leader of the Evangelical Church Winning All Ministry’s students’ fellowship.
The student’s body was discovered strangled outside the mosque.
Pantami was also accused of chairing a meeting of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) in Bauchi on July 13, 2010, where muslim leaders expressed their displeasure with Patrick Isa Yakowa, the governor of Kaduna.
According to the unverified documents circulating, JNI came to the conclusion that Yakowa needed to be stopped and “eliminated.”
However, Yakowa was elected governor of Kaduna in 2011, only to die in a helicopter crash in Bayelsa state a year later, alongside former national security advisor Owoeye Patrick Azazi.
Mr Yakowa was the first Christian governor of Kaduna, a city divided between Muslims and Christians but dominated by Muslims.
Pantami has yet to react to the accusations levelled against him.
Pantami acknowledged making statements in support of Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab, and the Taliban before these latest allegations emerged, according to videos circulating.
He expressed regret, saying he made the remarks while he was a teenager. As an adult, he has renounced the views.
He, on the other hand, claimed that he has never supported Boko Haram.
Last weekend, Pantami, a born-again Christian, made the clarifications during his regular Ramadan lecture at Al Nur Mosque in Abuja.
He said he had travelled around the world for 15 years, educating people about the dangers of Boko Haram terrorism.
He said he preached against terrorism in Katsina, Gombe, Borno, Kano, and Diffa, Niger Republic.
“In various locations, I have engaged those with Boko Haram ideologies. In Hausa, English, and Arabic, I’ve been writing pamphlets. I’ve been able to reintroduce a number of young people who had strayed from the right path.”
The minister went on to say that some of the remarks he made years ago that are now causing controversy were based on his view of religious problems at the time, and that he had revised some of his previous views based on new facts and maturity.
He claims that he was young when he made some of the remarks, that he was in university at the time, and that some of the remarks were made when he was a teenager.
The minister stated that he began preaching at the age of 13 and that many academics and individuals did not fully comprehend certain world events until taking positions.
He said that some people later changed their minds.
“In response to the allegation that I am a Boko Haram sympathiser, I would like to point out that those who have been following my religious evangelism as a scholar since 2005 and 2006 are more familiar with me. They are aware of what I have often preached,” he said.
Pantami said he was unconcerned about some of the media attacks on him being influenced by political and economic factors.
He also mentioned that he is not fixated on problems, but rather changes his mind as soon as he realises that his opinions and judgments on them are incorrect.
“Even after issuing a Fatwa, a non-binding religious opinion in response to a question raised to me, I have changed my position on certain issues based on new information.”
However, the daggers were still drawn against him until Thursday, as the movement calling for his resignation gained steam.
Pantami’s contrition should not be taken seriously, according to David Hundeyin, a freelance journalist who has written extensively about Pantami’s extremism.
On Channels TV on Wednesday, Hundeyin said, “Pantami was not any kind of child, he knew exactly what he was doing, those kinds of opinions don’t just grow over time.”
“Isa Pantami has a history of committing acts that result in death. Hundeyin insisted, “He is an Islamic terrorist.”
Pantami’s and Boko Haram’s views, he said, are identical. The difference is in how they plan to achieve their Islamic utopia.
Pantami was the most trending topic on Twitter Nigeria on Thursday, with over 120,000 tweets.
The question is whether President Buhari would allow a known Islamic extremist with ties to terrorist organisations to stay in power for another day.
Pantami is one of Buhari’s cabinet’s younger ministers. He is a 48-year-old guy.
On October 20, 1972, he was born in Pantami, Gombe state.
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According to a Wikipedia profile, he began his education by attending Tsangaya School, a traditional school for memorising the Qur’an.
He received his early secular education in Gombe before studying computer science at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in Bauchi.
In 2003, he earned a BTech, and in 2008, he earned an MSc.
Later, he earned a PhD from Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University.
He also received training in digital transformation from Harvard University in the United States, as well as management strategy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Institute of Management Development in Loussaune, Switzerland.
Dr. Pantami taught Information Technology at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University before entering the Islamic University of Madinah as Head of Technical Writing in 2014.
He was appointed Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the National Information Technology Development Agency in 2016. (NITDA). He was also made a minister in 2019.
In an interview, a former director of the DSS said that the government had been alerted about Pantami’s history. Nonetheless, he was confirmed as a minister.