BOKO HARAM: ‘Pantami Can’t Be Defended’ –Kperogi
Nigeria’s communication and digital economy minister, Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, could not be successfully defended against allegations that he is a sympathizer and enabler of the terrorist group, Boko Haram.
Professor Farooq A. Kperogi, a self acclaimed friend of Pantami, said he finds it difficult to intervene on behalf of the minister in the controversies regarding his utterances before he came into government, saying he has said things that portrayed him as fanatically supportive of the impunities of the terrorists.
Kperogi, a US-based academic and ardent critic of authorities in Nigeria, said in his well-read weekly column ‘Notes From Atlanta’ that “The truth is that it’s impossible to deploy the resources of logic, reason, basic decency, and even religious morality to defend some of the sermons Pantami gave in the early to late 2000s, especially in light of his current position as a federal minister in charge of a vast treasure trove of citizens’ sensitive information.”
The story about Pantami’s linkage with Boko Haram circulated in Nigeria last week, indicating that “he is now on the radar of America’s intelligence community
Daily Independent, which gave the most prominence to the story, alleged that Pantami had “ties with Abu Quata¬da al Falasimi and other Al-Qaeda leaders that he revered and spoke glowingly of in several of his videos on YouTube” adding that US’ surveillance radar has been beamed on him.
Kperogi wrote that “in spite of efforts by paid and unpaid media and social media ‘influencers’ to defend him—and the retraction of the story that alleged his sympathies for domestic and international terrorists—the truth is that his rhetorical entanglements with extremist Salafist ideologies, which I wasn’t familiar with until fairly recently, justify the critical scrutiny he is receiving now.”
He added that “In a series of reports, complete with audiographic accompaniments, the Peoples Gazette has unearthed sermons by Pantami that amounted to unvarnished homiletic endorsements of terrorism and intolerance of non-Muslims.
“For instance, in response to a question about Osama bin Laden’s ‘killing of innocent unbelievers,’ Pantami said although he conceded that Bin Laden was liable to err because he was human, ‘I still consider him as a better Muslim than myself’ and pointed out that ‘We are all happy whenever unbelievers are being killed, but the Sharia does not allow us to kill them without a reason.’ You can’t defend that.
“People’s Gazette also unearthed an audiotape in which he engaged in a weepy defense of Boko Haram terrorists against extra-judicial killings and asked for an amnesty for them just like Niger Delta militants. ‘See what our fellow Muslim brothers’ blood has turned to? Even pig blood has more value than that of a fellow Muslim brother,’ he said.”
The professor also wrote “In the aftermath of the religious crisis in Shendam in Plateau State in 2004 in which Christian militiamen murdered scores of Hausa Muslims, Pantami was livid and tearful. In an audio of his preaching, he said the ‘Ahlus Sunna,’ that is, people who are now called Salafists, should strike back and shun politicians and religious clerics who preached peace and restraint.
“This jihad is an obligation for every single believer, especially in Nigeria (hādhā jihād farḍ ‘ayn ‘ala kull muslim wa-khuṣūṣan fī Nījīriyā),’ he said.
“In his March 2019 paper titled ‘The ‘Popular Discourses of Salafi Counter-Radicalism in Nigeria’ Revisited: A Response to Abdullahi Lamido’s Review of Alexander Thurston, Boko Haram,’ Professor Andrea Brigaglia of the University of Cape Town, South Africa, writes:
‘Subsequently, Pantami offers himself as a volunteer to mobilise the Hisba police of the Muslim-majority states and to be appointed as the ‘commander’ (Hausa: kwamanda) of a militia ready to travel to Yelwa Shendam to join the fight in defence of the Muslims. The speech, which is about twenty minutes long, concludes with the prayer: ‘Oh God, give victory to the Taliban and to al-Qaeda’ (Allahumma ’nṣur Ṭālibān wa-tanẓīm al-Qā‘ida).’
“There are many more indefensible rhetorical endorsements of extremism that can be found in Pantami’s past preaching. In my opinion, it is legitimate for non-Muslims to be concerned that someone with that sort of baggage is a federal minister—just like it would be valid for Muslims to be outraged if a Christian minister has been shown to have espoused extremist views before they became minister,” the professor wrote.
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