Ishaku to Presidency: When did Pantami repent?


A veteran journalist and public affairs commentator, Mr. Jonathan Ishaku, has taken a swipe on the Presidency for tacitly defending Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy over his support for terrorists groups in the past.
Nigerians have been calling for the sacking or resignation of the minister over views he expressed some years ago in support of the terror groups.
Pantami, an Islamic cleric, had expressed views sympathetic to groups such as al-Qaeda and Boko Haram.
Several video clips of his extreme religious ideology went viral on social media after he threatened to sue a newspaper for publishing that he was on the US terror watch list.
In some of the videos of his sermon from 2000s, Pantami said he considered al-Qaeda founder, Osama Bin Laden, a better Muslim than himself.
He also said in another video that he was happy when infidels were massacred.
In a sermon after the bloody religious conflict in Shendam, Plateau state, Pantami offered to lead Muslims back to their homes, saying that he was willing to die in the process.
The minister also allegedly instigated the killing of 400-level student of the university identified as Sunday Achi
in 2004 at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), Bauchi where served as the chief imam of the university mosque.
The minister has been making desperate attempts to break renounce his past views, claiming that he made the utterances when he was young and that some of the comments were based on his understanding of religious issues at the time and that he has changed several positions “based on new evidence and maturity”
Dismissing calls for his sack, Presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu, had said the administration stands behind the minister.
“The minister has, rightly, apologized for what he said in the early 2000s”, Shehu said.
However, commenting on his Facebook page, Ishaku said,
in saner climes, Pantami would have been relieved from office to enable him defend himself against accusation of complicity in the murder of a student in 2004.
His Facebook post titled: “When did Pantami repent?”reads: “If what Pantami said the other day as reaction to the newspaper publication about him is what the Presidency is vaunting as repentance, then we are truly in deep trouble. “This shows we are treating a menace as serious as terrorism with kid-gloves. “What Patami did was not repentance nor apology. It is the same thing I have been saying about the so-called ‘repentant’ Boko Haram; you can not catch an ‘active combatant’ and free him without even a day in court because he claims he is repentant!
“That is a survival trick not repentance! I ask the same question here; at what point did Patami repent? After his past was exposed, not so? He didn’t recant his views before his appointment as DG or Minister.
“It was only after he was found out to be unfit to hold public office on account of his views, especially in one that’s fighting terrorism, that he too hurriedly embarked on this survivalist track. By the way, what did he exactly recant?
“There were so many misguided and incendiary statements and things he made and did; which one exactly is he sorry for and he’s now renouncing? More shocking is the bunkum that he was young.
“It was embarrassing to hear the Presidency repeat this absolute rubbish.
Has the age of criminal liability changed in our statutes?
“By 2004 when he was Chief Imam at ATBU and was at the peak of his extremist notoriety, Patami was 32 years! That was an adult possibly with wives and children! We should ask if the Presidency is also involved in a cover up for him and to what end?
“Why did the Presidency hurry up the exonerating verdict, and the childish addition of a conspiracy of detractors when more public interrogation of the Minister’s past was still under way?
“The government clearly wasn’t disposed to questioning their appointee but was the hurried statement intended to truncate further public scrutiny?
“In saner climes, the fellow would have been relieved from office to enable him defend himself against accusation of complicity in the murder of a student in 2004.
“The Federal government needs to show firmness in the fight against terrorism because this war is being fight at great cost to the lives and limbs of our young compatriots not to mention the colossal financial resources it takes from the public purse!”


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