Nigerian Minister suffering from extremist views

The Nigerian president says he is “standing behind” a embarrassed minister facing a demand for resignation after the extreme Islamist views he had in the past were recently revealed.

Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and a well-known Islamic priest, expressed sympathy for groups such as al-Qaeda and Boko Haram.

In one sermon in the 2000s, he said he considered al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden to be a better Muslim than himself, and in another sermon he was happy when non-believers were slaughtered. Stated.

His record of expressing these views began to spread on social media last week, leading to President Muhammadu Buhari’s call for resignation or dismissal.

But in the first reaction since the saga began, presidential spokesman Galva Chef said the minister was “targeted.”[ed] To “Cancel Campaign”.

“In the 2000s, the minister was a man in his twenties. Next year he will be fifty. Over time, people and their opinions-often, of course-will change,” the statement said.

The minister also tried to abandon his past views over the weekend, and in local newspapers, some of the comments were based on his “understanding of religious affairs at the time” and “to new evidence and maturity Based on that, he said he changed some positions. ..

However, many people who used Twitter’s #PantamiMustGo hashtag to express their concerns about accessing sensitive data as Minister of Communications continued to call for dismissal or resignation.

He was also defended under the #PantamiMustStay hashtag because the issue revealed the religious and ethnic boundaries of this multi-ethnic country.

What exactly did Mr. Pantami say?

New evidence of his views in the past is steadily flowing, the latest being a document published online on Wednesday.

These documents are from a 2010 conference chaired by Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), the supreme body of Islam, and are Christians in the city center of northern Nigeria, where Muslims make up the majority. Has been agreed to ban the building of churches. Millions of Christians also live there, but the population.

Audio and video recordings of Mr. Pantami’s fierce prayers and sermons at various stages of his career as Imam have also appeared. In one sermon, he volunteered to lead Shari’a police, Hisba’s army, to Shendam, a plateau where there was a deadly religious conflict, in order to fight to protect Muslims.

A man evacuated to the family of Jos, Plateau, sits

Religious violence involving Jos, Plateau, killed more than 300 people and evacuated thousands in 2009.

In a 2006 speech, Mr. Pantami publicly expressed his condolences after the death of Al Qaeda’s Iraqi leader Abmusab Al Zarkawi.

An audio clip about the Nigerian army’s war with Boko Haram passionately describes the militants as “our Muslim brothers” who do not deserve to be “killed like pigs” and tears. Is likely to come out.

In another recording, he declares that he is happy whenever non-believers are slaughtered.

He does not deny the authenticity of these texts, audio and video clips.

What did the government say?

The Nigerians were waiting for a response from the government, which came through a presidential spokesman on Thursday.

Garba Shehu, who represents President Buhari, said the administration “is behind Minister Panthami.”

“The minister, of course, apologized for what he said in the early 2000s. At that time, that view was absolutely unacceptable and will not be accepted today,” he shared on Twitter. Said in a statement. account:

However, critics point out that by the time most of his controversial statements were made, the minister was already in his thirties and was therefore well aware of its implications.

The opposition Democratic Party for the People (PDP) tried to discuss Mr. Pantami’s views in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, but was blocked by the ruling party.

Why did these views come to light?

It began last week with rumors that a local newspaper reported that Mr. Pantami was on the US watch list on suspicion of being associated with terrorism.

Without confirmation from the United States, Mr. Pantami threatened to sue newspapers and other media outlets, leading to withdrawals and apologies.

But since then, a series of audio and video clips with incendiary comments by Mr. Pantami have been posted on social media.

There is also extensive coverage from Nigerian online newspapers People’s Gazette..

old WikiLeaks Documents citing Mr. Pantami’s US diplomatic cable being thrown from the University of Abbakarta Fawabareva in Bauchi and from the Gombe mosque to preach inflammatory rhetoric have also been redistributed.

People gathered at the registration point of Nigeria's national identification number

The April deadline for Nigerians to register their national identification numbers has been moved to May

There is also a social media post about his time at Abu Bakar Tafawa Barrewa University, where Mr. Pantami was accused of inciting the horrific murder of a Christian student leader who preached on campus as a priest of a local mosque. was.

Mr Pantami denied these accusations and said he had never been dismissed from the university.

He told the local newspaper Premium Times that people who opposed the introduction of the compulsory national identification number needed to obtain a mobile phone number attacked him.

Who is Isa Pantami?

  • 48 years old is now Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy

  • Former head of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)

  • From the state of Gombe in northeastern Nigeria, I started teaching at the Tsangaya School in the Koran, commonly known as Armajiri.

  • He received his PhD from Robert Gordon University in Scotland, but was also educated in Saudi Arabia.

  • He is the chief imam of the popular Armana Mosque in Abuja and leads the annual teachings during the Ramadan fast.

Why are some Nigerians so worried about Pantami?

As head of the Ministry of Communications, he oversees the agency responsible for the database of Nigerians and expatriates in the country.

Some have expressed concern that ministers who have previously sympathized with Islamic extremist groups will have access to such important data.

Pantami also oversees the web infrastructure of most government ministries, military and intelligence agencies, and the satellite infrastructure of Nigeria, which provides communication and navigation support to the Air Force.

The backlash he faces seems to be primarily on social media.

Offline, the average Nigerian is less worried about the minister’s past views, and he is backed by a group of Muslims in the north.