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…insist minister should be held accountable

Reactions have continued to trail the presidency’s defence of the Minister for Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, over his alleged romance with some terror groups in the world. The leadership of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), for instance, has described Pantami as the digital component of the Fulani terror network in Nigeria, who should be sacked if he fails to resign honourably. In a similar vein, the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) General Church Council, which is the highest decision making body of the church, equally demanded the immediate resignation of Pantami from office. Also, the Middle Belt Patriotic Front (MPF) has described as unfortunate, the statement of the Presidency defending the weighty allegations against the minister. In like manner, the Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives insisted that Pantami is a security threat to the nation and should resign or be sacked without further delay. Meanwhile, the former secretary of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Alhaji Buba Galadima, believes that the minister does not need any further investigation and should be removed from office without delay. In his reaction, the Leader of the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said that Pantami should have been sacked by the President over allegations of supporting some international terrorism groups long before now. It will be recalled that Nigerians had gone online demanding Pantami’s resignation using hash tag #PantamiResign after multiple reports accused him of endorsing terrorism, while expressing admiration and praise for Al-Qaeda founder, Osama Bin Ladin, and founder of the Taliban Islamist group, Mullah Omar. He has also been accused of intolerance by non-Muslims. However, the presidency, which broke its silence on the controversy on Thursday, alleged that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies are the ones behind calls for his removal. It also stated that the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration stands by the minister, describing the controversy as a “cancel campaign” targeted at Pantami.

Pantami, a digital component of Fulani terror network – MASSOB

MASSOB, which described Pantami as a Fulani terrorist apologist and an ardent promoter of radical and extreme Islam, stated that the minister is also working towards 2023 perpetuation plot. The group alleged that Pantami’s control of Nigeria’s National Identification Number (NIN) is deliberate and part plot to register millions of alien Fulani elements to rig, boost election count and perpetuate the Fulani hegemony beyond 2023. The statement signed by the leader of the group, Comrade Uchenna Madu, read in part: “The appointment of Dr. Isa Ali Pantami as the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy is the continuation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Fulani expansionist agenda in Nigeria through every available means including electronic digitalization and communication. “He is a qualified and excellent tool in the hand of President Buhari in his primitive quest of making the Nigerian state, a permanent homeland for all Fulanis across West Africa.” The statement continued: “It is only in the Southern and Middle Belt Christian dominated regions that Pantami’s National Identification Number (NIN) registration was made extremely compulsory. “The NIN registration exercise is an electronic digital instrument that will also be a major electronic means of disenfranchising the electorate from Southern and Middle Belt regions and rigging the presidential election results of 2023 to favour the Fulani perpetuation agenda.”

ECWA demands minister’s immediate resignation

Similarly, the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) General Church Council has demanded the immediate resignation of Pantami from office. The Church in a communiqué signed by the ECWA President, Rev. Dr. Stephen Panya and ECWA General Secretary, Rev. Yunusu Nmadu at the end of the 68th General Church Council held in Jos, said where Pantami fails to resign voluntarily, the Church expects President Buhari to relieve him of his ministerial position. “The Council observes the serious nature of the allegations levelled against the Nigeria’s current Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, the verity of which allegations he has affirmed, but is quick to excuse himself, pleading immaturity and limited knowledge for his support for terrorism at the time. “We join other well-meaning Nigerians and corporate citizens like Human Rights Writers’ Association (HURIWA), Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), and other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to demand his resignation as a member of the Federal Executive Council. “Where he fails to resign voluntarily, we would expect President Buhari to relieve him of his ministerial position. “We equally add our voice to the demand that the allegations against Dr. Pantami be thoroughly investigated by relevant security agencies and if indicted, he should be prosecuted in accordance with the relevant laws of the Federation.”

Presidency defending Pantami unfortunate, says MPF

The Middle belt Patriotic Front (MPF) has also described as unfortunate the statement of the Presidency defending the weighty allegations against the minister. The group, while speaking to Saturday Telegraph in Jos through their Convener, Comrade Ibrahim Bunu, said Buhari’s action as a President is totally biased. It said the president has not taken any drastic action aimed at addressing the insecurity in the country, but keep defending the wrong persons in his administration because of religion. Bunu said Pantami is supposed to have been arrested and investigated based on the weighty allegations against him. He said: “The President’s action is totally biased; because Pantami is a Muslim, and was appointed based on his Islamic propaganda, the Presidency instead of investigating the issues, now pretends and protects him. “But we know that if he was to be a Christian the President would have sacked the minister by now.”

Minority Reps Caucus insists minister must resign

However, the Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives has insisted that the minister is a security threat to the nation and should resign or be sacked by the president. Spokesperson for the Minority Caucus, Hon. Francis Attah Agbo, in a statement on Friday, also took a swipe at the House spokesman, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, for saying the motion sponsored by the Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, seeking the minister’s resignation, was not properly presented. Agbo said: “As a caucus, we stand behind the minority leader in insisting that Isa Pantami, should resign or be removed by President Buhari, as his continued stay in office poses great threat to our national security, he stated. “Insecurity is blind to creed and party colourations and this underscores why the caucus will resist any attempts by anyone to politicise a clear existential threat to our motherland.” He added: “The attention of the Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives has been drawn to a statement by the chairman of the House committee on media and public affairs/spokesman of the House, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, which clearly exposed a sinister intention to misrepresent the rules of the House, mislead the undiscerning public and frustrate genuine effort in the fight against terrorism in our country. “We find it shocking that instead of standing with Nigerians at this critical moment, Hon. Kalu chose to engage in a personal attack on the minority leader, Hon Ndudi Elumelu, for pointing to the dangers of retaining in office the minister of communications and digital economy, Isa Pantami, after reports of the minister’s support for terrorists came to the fore. “This is, especially after the minister himself admitted to the facts of his sympathy for violent, extremist and terrorist groups, including, the al- Qaida and Taliban.”

‘Pantami ought to be sacked without investigation’

Meanwhile, Galadima has said that Pantami did not need any further investigation before being booted out of office. The former secretary of CPC, who was a guest on Arise Television Morning Show on Friday, said the minister was a clear example of opportunist, and that many people in Nigeria usually played to the gallery just because they wanted to get into position. “I can’t say whether Pantami’s apology was good enough to exonerate him or not. But all I know is that for this government to fight corruption and insecurity, anyone that commits crime should face the music. “It’s an opportunity for this government to clear its name. The minister did that in a certain period and he is reaping the fruits. “Now that his past was bad, it is important that he faces the music. “The Federal Government said that he has apologised, so anybody who commits an offence and apologises should also be allowed to go. “Let the Federal Government of Nigeria release the former governor of Taraba State, Jolly Nyame, and that of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye. They have been jailed and they were remorseful in court. “Why didn’t the Federal Government release them? And those that are being interrogated for theft should be let off the hook if they apologise,” he said. Galadima emphasised that if a minister of government is accused of certain misdemeanor in the past and the government comes out to defend him, it means that such government did not have the will to fight corruption and insecurity or bring about development to its own people.

Scandal, greatest shame in the country at the moment -Ayo Adebanjo

For Adebanjo, the minister should have been sacked by the President for supporting some terrorist groups. Speaking with Saturday Telegraph, the Afenifere leader said that the scandal is the greatest shame in the country at the moment. The elder statesman said that the security agency that ought to screen the minister before he got to office did not do their job. He said: “Even the Senate did not do what they ought to do. It is a shame that Pantami is still in the cabinet. In a civilised country he should have gone. “Let us assume that they didn’t know, after knowing, they should have sacked him. “We are not a civilised country at all, when such a dangerous element would still be in the cabinet and we say that the President is the Chief Security Officer of the country.”




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