Pantami: ‘I have changed my views on some issues based on additional facts’




Communications and Digital Economy Minister, Dr. Isa Pantami
 

The embattled Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, says he has never held extremist views nor maintain rigid stances on issues.
He said his views have changed on a number of issues as additional facts became available to him.

He also said that no Islamic preacher both in the past and in recent times has criticized and condemned the activities of Boko Haram terrorists than he did.

Pantami made this known at An-Nur Mosque, during a Ramadan Lecture while responding to a question over an unconfirmed report by Daily Independent, a Nigerian newspaper that had claimed that the United States (US) government allegedly placed the minister on a watchlist for having reported links with Boko Haram leaders.

The newspaper later retracted its story, apologised to Pantami and deleted the report from its website.

Pantami noted that as a Muslim, he has never supported the Boko Haram sect, neither has he promoted terrorism.

“On the claim that I am a Boko Haram sympathizer, I want to say that people who have been following my religious evangelism, as a scholar, dating back from 2005 and 2006, know me better. They know what I often preached about,” he said.

The Communications and Digital Economy Minister said within the last two decades, he was invited and travelled to Niger Republic, Katsina, Borno, and Gombe, among other northern states, where he ‘vehemently’ condemned Boko Haram’s ideology.

“Besides these evangelism missions I embarked on to speak against religious fundamentalism, I also published pamphlets on the nefarious activities of the terrorists sect,” he added.

Pantami said that though some of the media attacks on him were motivated by political and economic reasons, he would not be perturbed.

He further noted that he has never been fixated on issues, but rather changes his stance immediately he discovers that his viewpoints and verdicts on such issues are wrong.

He pointed out that though he started preaching as early as when he was 13 years old, his viewpoints have consistently changed as a result of acquiring more knowledge, exposure, travelling and maturity, as he advanced in age.

“I have changed my stance on some issues based on additional facts even after expressing Fatwa, a nonbinding religious opinion in response to a question posed to me,” he said.

Pantami disclosed that as a scholar he was able to preach to many fanatical youths who shunned terrorism and went to acquire quality education, becoming engineers and other professionals.

He said he does not tolerate injustice, adding that every Nigerian has the right to practice the religion he likes, in line with the constitution’s provision for freedom of religion.

“If we recalled, President Joe Biden of the United States, then as a Senator in America, did not support the invasion of Afghanistan by his country. And at that time, I also did not. So, anything that will lead to war is what I have always been against. That is why I don’t like injustice.

“Barrack Obama as American President then sought for understanding between the Muslim nations when he realised what he was thinking about them was wrong. So, in any given time, the last position is the right position, and that represents my views.

“I once saved two Corp members who were about to lynched in Bauchi State during a fight between Christians and Muslims. I personally took them to the mosque to save their lives. So, anybody who will protect Christians will you still call him a fanatic? Also, I want to say that I was never suspended or expelled from any school as a student or lecturer because of my views, especially on religious matters,” he said.

A civil society organisation, Concerned Nigerians, had on 11 April petitioned the United States government, urging the Joe Biden administration to investigate alleged involvement of Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, with terrorist groups.

The group also asked that the US place the minister on its terror watch list if the allegations against him were found to be true.

The petition titled, ‘Terrorist Watchlist –Isa Pantami’, was signed by the convener of the group, Deji Adeyanju.

It partly read, “It is also further alleged that he had in the past openly supported and endorsed global terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and the Talibans.

“Pantami is said to have praised Osama Bin Laden describing him as a hero and a better Muslim than himself. He has not renounced these views in the face of new revelations by the media. His views are extremist views and a threat to a multi religious nation like Nigeria.

“He is a senior member of President Buhari’s regime and we are of the view that a supporter of Mullah Omar and Osama Bin Laden should not hold a sensitive position and be in charge of the database of Nigerians. We are confident that Mr. Pantami will not resign or be sacked despite the public outcry because President Buhari is drawn to men like him.

“We implore you to investigate these allegations and if true, place him on your terrorist watchlist permanently. Those who express extremist views remain a threat to world peace as they support mass murder of both Christians and Muslims globally. This remains unacceptable.

“Our reply to those who say these men may have had a change of heart is that terrorists don’t repent, they are only looking for an opportunity to get close to power so they can strike harder.”

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