A few days ago, it was brought to light that the current Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, has an Islamic extremist past. In a 2006 lecture delivered in Bauchi state, Isa Pantami declared his admiration for terror groups like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. On the 21st of April, 2021, new documents about a meeting Pantami chaired in 2010 surfaced online. The purpose of the meeting was to strategise on how to halt the spread of Christianity in the North, a section of the document was dedicated to ridding Kaduna State of non-muslims and plotting the “elimination” of the Governor of the state at the time, Patrick Yakowa who was a Christian. Governor Yakowa died two years later in a helicopter accident.So far, there is no proof that this meeting was connected to the fatal accident.
It was also reported that Pantami was the Chief Imam at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in 2004, when Sunday Achi, a then 400 level student of Architecture at the University, was murdered in the school mosque by Muslim students over allegation that he circulated a tract that contained blasphemous content. This was revealed by the father of the deceased, Prof. Samuel Achi who said his son was the leader of the students’ fellowship of the Evangelical Church Winning All Ministry. He said the tracts shared by his late son did not contain any blasphemous content but the Pantami-led Muslim community at the university pronounced a ‘fatwa’ on his son.He said the Muslim students killed his son and threw his body off ATBU mosque, adding that he was able to retrieve the remains of Sunday with the intervention of the then governors of Kaduna and Bauchi states.
The revelations of Pantami’s past raise the question of how he got past the DSS screening exercise and a former DSS assistant Director, Dennis Amachree said that the organisation was aware of his past and that they passed on the information to the Federal Government and the legislature.
A good number of Nigerians are concerned that Dr. Isa Pantami occupies his current position as this is a country that is currently fighting religious extremism. Pantami has however come out to renounce his pro-terrorist comments claiming he was young when he did that and now, he is mature. But calls for his resignation or sacking have only grown louder. Recently a motion for the sacking or resignation of the minister was presented to the House of Representatives by Ndudi Elumelu, the Minority Leader. The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, however, overruled the Minority Leader.
By Ifeanyichukwu Achife