Nigerians lash out at Buhari over his support for Pantami.
Many Nigerians have been outraged by the government of Muhammadu Buhari’s support for under-fire Minister of Communication and Digital Economy Isa Ali Pantami.
Buhari’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, said Thursday that the government was satisfied with Pantami’s apology for his past support for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, and that demands for him to resign were a “manufactured conflict.”
Al-Qaeda carried out a number of attacks on Western nations, including the World Trade Center bombing on September 11, 2001.
“The Minister has rightly apologised for his comments in the early 2000s,” Shehu said in a statement.
“His opinions were completely inappropriate at the time, and they would be similarly so today if he expressed them again. But he will not repeat them because he has officially and permanently rejected his previous statements as incorrect.”
Shehu’s comment has been met with outrage, especially from many young Nigerians who believe they have been treated unfairly by the government for things much less serious than voicing sympathy for terror groups that have killed thousands of people around the world.
Many on Twitter cited the Buhari administration’s crackdown on frontline #EndSARS demonstrators in the wake of the demonstrations against police violence that paralysed major Nigerian cities last October.
The protests compelled the government to dismantle the infamous Special Anti-Robbery Squad, which was accused of crimes such as kidnapping, extortion, and even murder.
The demonstrations were mostly peaceful until, on the evening of October 20, government troops opened fire on unarmed demonstrators singing the national anthem at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos.
According to Amnesty International, at least 12 people were killed in Lagos on that day. However, the Nigerian government denied the assertion.
After the unrest that followed the Lekki incident subsided, the government seized the bank accounts of at least 20 #EndSARS demonstrators, accusing them of funding terrorism.
Critics of the Buhari administration’s support for Pantanmi argued that the government should not have handled those who protested against police violence just to accept a minister who has previously promoted terrorism, particularly at a time when Nigeria is fighting the Boko Haram insurgency.
The minister had blamed his previous militant tendencies on his youth and immaturity. The reason was rejected because one of the leading #EndSARS promoters, Bolatito Oduala, was much younger when she protested against police harassment, which is not a crime, than Pantami was when he hailed late Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
“A 33-year-old man who vowed loyalty to Osama bin Laden and praised the Taliban is not a threat to national security and should serve in the federal cabinet. “On Friday morning, 23-year-old Rinu, a student activist, had four of her bank accounts PND’d, with DSS searching for her,” David Hundeyin, a journalist and outspoken government critic, said on Twitter.
A civil rights movement Concerned Nigerians said on Twitter that the minister is”unfit to occupy a public office,” ending its tweet with #PantamiMustGo.
As of 9:15 #PantamiMustGo was one of the trending hashtags in Nigeria with more than 37, 000 tweets. A few are below.
Should the President persist in its refusal to sack Pantami, he should be prepared for #EndSARS Part 2. We cannot be talking of a safe country when terrorists are the ones occupying political offices. His continued stay in office is a threat to national security. #PantamiMustGo
— FESTUS OGUN (@mrfestusogun) April 22, 2021
Rinu, A 23 year old student has her bank accounts frozen by the CBN for protesting against police brutality.
Isa Pantami, A Supporter of Terrorism with Links to Boko Haram & Al Qaeda is still walking around free and even worse, IS the minister of Communications.#PantamiMustGo
— Explicit of Ibadan♠️ (@Badmanexplicit) April 23, 2021
Are you telling Nigerians that the president is in support of Pantami and his extremist views? Are you telling them that Pantami’s support for murderous Taliban and Al-qaeda terrorists is okay by the president?
— Concerned Nigerians (@ConcernedNIG) April 22, 2021
Buhari did not stand with Kemi Adeosun or Babachir Lawan, both Christians when they were alleged of wrongdoing but he is now standing with his Mallam accused of more serious crimes. One Nigeria! #PantamiMustGo
— Comrade Deji Adeyanju (@adeyanjudeji) April 23, 2021
So people were actually expecting the presidency to release a statement on Pantami that will make sense…sense departed the villa in 2015.#PantamiMustGo
— Babasola Kuti Jr. 🇬🇧 🇳🇬 (@RealSolaKuti) April 23, 2021