By Prof Moses Ochonu
PREACHERS of jihadi violence and extremism, and Nigeria’s Minister of Communications, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami has given an interview to Premium Times in which, instead of apologizing for his pro-Al-Qaeda and Taliban and pro-violent jihad positions, he makes two startling claims.
The minister claims that his violent preachings in support of global jihadist groups and his declarations that the killing of unbelievers makes him happy were understood out of context.
Pray, what context mitigates or assuages his advocacy for people who kill Christians, jews, Hindus, atheists, and Muslims who don’t agree with the path of violent jihad?
Pantami also claims that his violent preachings are not his personal opinions but are drawn from the Qur’an. Wow!
Is he saying that the Muslim clerics and regular Muslims, local and global, who do not preach violent jihad or violence, do not support murderous Al-Qaeda and Taliban jihadists, and do not advocate for violence against non-Muslims are not drawing from the Qur’an and derive their creed from some other source? Are they, by his claim, less Muslim than he is?
That is what he is implying, and it is even more dangerous than his advocacy of jihadi violence and the elimination of unbelievers, for it essentially delegitimizes the faith of hundreds of millions of Muslims who preach and advocate for peace, freedom of religion, and sectarian and interfaith harmony and understanding.
Pantami made a conscious choice in his preachings. He chose to support, boost, and enable Al-Qaeda and Taliban jihadists and even promoted violent jihad locally in Nigeria, only recommending that Muslims wait for the time to be ripe before launching the jihad in Nigeria.
Other Islamic preachers of in the late 90s and early to mid 2000s such as the Salafi preacher, Sheikh Gumbi ,and even the firebrand Shiite cleric, El-ZakZaky, condemned al-Qaeda’s declaration of jihad against non-Muslims.
Pantami couldn’t even resist the giveaway line of bigots, hate preachers, and nihilists of various stripes. He said his driver is a Christian. This would be hilarious if it wasn’t tragic. It’s the rhetorical equivalent of the “I have black friends” and “my nephew is black” lines of white supremacists.
Pantami is digging himself into a bigger hole. We know Buhari will not fire him. After all, the bleaching assaulter and Chairman of the CCT, Danladi Umar, of “Biafra boys” infamy still has his job. But that does not mean that Pantami should take Nigerians for fools.
A violent jihadist who once volunteered to lead a jihad in Yelwan Shendam and who is a booster for global jihadists presides over our telecom databases and our sensitive national identity and biometric data.
Until he apologizes and tells Nigerians unequivocally that he has abandoned those violent extremist positions, he remains toxic, dangerous, and disqualified from holding any public office, let alone a ministerial one.
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