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Terrorism: Pantami in the eye of the storm



The Hon. Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isah Ali Pantami has been the subject of trending hashtags for almost a week now. The first was that he is among Americas terror watchlist.

The newspaper that first reported this later recant and apologized. But the story has already taken a life of its own. Audios and videos of Pantami’s past preaching, supporting Osama Bin Laden post 9/11 began surfacing again.

As a northerner, I can understand the sentiments about America post 9/11. People genuinely felt it was a just recompense for all the atrocities America perpetrated in the Middle East. Not until Boko Haram happened, that is when people realized the full gravity of terrorism and the danger and the destruction it portend.

Therefore, I did not begrudge the people calling on him to address those concerns about his past, they are well within their rights. Pantami is a public servant and therefore owe it to his office to address whatever concern the people have whether he feels they are warranted or not.

And thankfully, he addressed those issues, he alluded his utterances to youthful exuberance and said he did not hold those views now. And to his credit, he is one of the very few clerics that confronted Mohammed Yusuf, the founder of Boko Haram on his toxic ideologies. Videos of their encounters are all on YouTube.

But now, there is a minute of meeting circulating again where it was purported that Pantami chaired a JNI meeting in Bauchi State. The first red-flag is that Pantami couldn’t have chaired a JNI meeting in 2010. If only the author of that nonsense knows the hierarchy and composition of members of JNI.

The second red flag is the style of the writing. The report is replete with phrases like; “the use of jihadic means…”; (what does that even mean??) Or phrase like; “the followers of Allah”, (excerpt this is a direct translation from Hausa to English where context is missing, muslims don’t address themselves like that).

Thirdly, look at this line; “The present development given Patrick Yakowa to rule Kaduna state is totally uncalled for and a slap to Islam in Nigeria, it is considered as equal a Christian ruling in Mecca…” no Muslim will ever equate Kaduna to Mecca not less in a minute of meeting of JNI.

Lastly for me, this is by no means exhaustive, is the fact that a meeting, where a Jihad is plan and executed is captured in a minutes of meeting but with the caveat that “this meeting is highly confidential…” common man. If the author is an ignoramus you the reader shouldn’t be one.

Clearly, there is an agenda to feed on the growing phobia of islam. Initially, the canvassers of the hashtag insist that this is about Pantami and not islam or the north, they even warned that northerners shouldn’t be taking things personally. But this goes beyond Pantami, roping in JNI into this ridiculous and callous claims should alert everyone that yes, this is an attempt to attack the muslim-north and islam.

~ Umar Gezawa

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