Numerous reactions have trailed reports alleging that the United States government placed Nigeria’s Minister of Communications, Isa Pantami on its terrorism watch-list.
The report which was first published by Daily Independent newspaper, claims that before his appointment as minister, Pantami, was a known Islamic preacher and held ‘dangerous views’ against the American government.
Pantami was also alleged to be an Al-Qaeda loyalist.
“Ibrahim, also the Deputy Secretary General of the Supreme Sharia Council in Nigeria and a former student of Salafist ideologies, was trained in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East with other top Islamic jihadists” the report said.
It went on to say that the minister was a very close confidant of the late Mohammed Yusuf, who founded Boko Haram, adding that Pantami allegedly shared same jihadist doctrines as the leader of the terrorist group who was killed in 2009.
On Monday, April 12, 2021, the minister debunked reports that he was placed on any ‘terror watch list’ by the United States for alleged ties with the late Boko Haram founder, Mohammed Yusuf.
Responding to the allegations, Pantami, said he has been preaching against the terrorist sect for over 15 years at great danger to his own life.
“your RETRACTION through your independent investigation, has been noted. However, investigative journalism requires the investigation before publishing, not after.
“Further, major publishers will meet my lawyers in the court on this defamation of character” Pantami said in response to a retraction published by NewsWire newspaper.
Before Pantami could get his response across however, Nigerians had made several unprintable comments on the topic, going as far as to say the mandatory registration of National Identification Number (NIN) announced by his office was also connected to the allegations.
As of the time of filing this report, the Minister’s name, Isa Pantami, topped Twitter trends with over 18,000 tweets.
Earlier in the day, presidential aide Bashir Ahmad had labelled the report by Daily Independent as fake news.
On twitter, Ahmad wrote, “You have just endorsed a fake report without verifying. For your information @DrIsaPantami has never been on any US watchlist.”
Another major influencer on twitter, @cchukudebelu wrote “Is there any official communication from the US Government placing @DrIsaPantami on the terror watch list? I’m not a fan of Dr. Isa Pantami, but we need to establish the facts – and an accusation by the US Government isn’t sufficient, let him defend himself first.”
After NewsWire published the report, it issued a retraction in which it said “We launched an independent audit to evaluate the story and found that there was no direct attribution by the said United States Government agency and we do apologise to our readers for re-publishing the report and also to the person of Sheikh Isa Pantami, Nigeria’s Minister of Nigeria’s Minister of Communications.”
However, Salihu Tanko-Yakasai, a former media aide to the Kano State governor urged Pantami to make a scapegoat of all outlets that published the Daily Independent report.
“Dear @DrIsaPantami dan Allah don’t accept this retraction. Get a very good team of SANs & sue all of them. Story has gone viral, they’ve already tarnished ur name & we definitely need to find a scapegoat in these useless junk online propaganda outlets.” Yakasai said.
Yans.ng believes that the last hasn’t been heard on this story. We will furnish our readers with more details as they emerge.