The convener of Concerned Nigerians, and human rights activist, Prince Deji Adeyanju, has urged the United States (US), to place the minister of communications and digital economy, Isa Pantami, permanently, on its terrorism watchlist.
An online media had alleged that Pantami is being watched by the US for his suspected ties with Boko Haram insurgents, Abu Quatada al Falasimi, and other Al-Qaeda leaders.
The online newspaper also claimed that Pantami, before his appointment, was a known Islamic preacher who propagated dangerous ideology against the American government.
“Dear @USinNigeria, @SecBlinken;We urge you to place @DrIsaPantami permanently on your Terrorist Watchlist in the face of open admittance to supporting terrorist groups in the past. Terrorists & their sympathizers don’t repent. #PantamiResignNow,” Adeyanju tweeted.
BREAKINGTIMES reports that Pantami has come under fire on Twitter, over his alleged link with terrorist groups, Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
The Nigerian Twitter community also said the minister cannot be trusted with the data of Nigerians, especially with the ongoing National Identification Number and Subscriber Identity Module integration exercise under his watch.
In a viral video recorded many years ago which was later confirmed by his lawyer, Michael Numa, the minister was seen engaging the late Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf, in a public debate.
According to Peoples Gazette, Pantami, an Islamic scholar, also once declared that he was always happy when infidels were massacred.
Peoples Gazette said Pantami’s comments were contained in three audio recordings of his teachings in the 2000s, when he took extreme positions in support of the brutal exploits of Al Qaeda and Taliban elements who were on a campaign to obliterate the West and conquer other parts of the world.
Peoples Gazette also said Pantami did not return a request seeking comments from about whether or not he has eschewed his violent Salafist views.
But, during his daily Ramadan lecture at Annor Mosque in Abuja on Saturday, he said he now knows better about some of the comments he made in the past.
Pantami said the campaign against him is politically motivated.
“For 15 years, I have moved around the country while educating people about the dangers of terrorism. I have travelled to Katsina, Gombe, Borno, 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.
“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.
“I was young when I made some of the comments; I was in university, some of the comments were made when I was a teenager. I started preaching when I was 13. Many scholars and individuals did not understand some international events and therefore took some positions based on their understanding. Some have come to change their positions later,” DailyTrust quoted him to have said.