Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami has denied allegations that he had close ties to Boko Haram and Al-Qaeda terrorists via his official Twitter handle. The Minister also said he is taking legal action against NewsWire for defamation of character.
A Daily Independent report published by NewsWireNGR (now retracted) had alleged that Pantami had close ties to late Boko Haram Leader, Muhammed Yusuf as well as Abu Quatada al Falasimi and other Al-Qaeda leaders with whom he reportedly shared jihadist doctrines.
According to Pantami, the video (in Hausa) embedded in the NewsWire story which claimed the Minister was having a friendly chat with Yusuf, was actually a heated debate between him and the late Boko haram leader.
During the argument, Pantami had disagreed with Yusuf’s position on governance, stating that Muslims should participate in democratic rule and get an education.
“My lectures against the doctrines and all other evil people have been available for over 15 years, including debates that endangered my life against many criminals in Nigeria. If you can’t understand Hausa, get an objective Hausa speaker to translate for you objectively,” he said.
Several Nigerians have expressed security concerns over the National Identification Number (NIN) following allegations that the minister had been placed on a terrorist watchlist by the United States.
In the wake of the now-debunked allegations, many Nigerians had cited fears over their security and privacy being compromised due to NIN details available to Pantami, whose ministry heads the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).
The NIN contains key personal information which, if exposed to criminal elements, could be exploited to harass, extort, intimidate or even physically harm targeted individuals.
One Twitter user, Felix said, “If truly Isa Pantami who is the Minister for Communication has ties with Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, then, Boko Haram has our NIN and full details??”
Some people opined the recent allegations against Pantami were a conspiracy from opposing groups but others have called for an objective approach.
The amount of claimed to be intellectuals fuelling the false allegations against @DrIsaPantami should be surprising but its not, as bigotry is real in Nigeria. Shamelessly forgetting the fact that he had debates against the BH leader and was threatened recently by the mad shekau.Ahmad on Twitter
However, the Minister’s response appears to have quelled these fears for now. It remains to be seen if there will be any new developments as regards this issue in the coming days as the NIN-SIM linking deadline fast approaches.
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