Isa Aliyu Pantami, President Muhammadu Buhari’s communications minister, once declared that he was always a happy man hearing of the massacre of those he considered infidels.
“We are all happy whenever unbelievers are being killed,” Pantami said. “But the Sharia does not allow us to kill them without reason.”
“Our zeal (hamasa) should not take precedence over our obedience to the sacred law,” he added.
Pantami’s comments were contained in three audio recordings of his teachings in the 2000s when he took extreme positions in support of the brutal exploits of Al Qaeda and Taliban elements who were on a campaign to obliterate the West and conquer other parts of the world.
He made the remarks while responding to audience questions about his views on Osama Bin Laden during a lecture about the Taliban. Pantami said of Mr Bin Laden, the late Al Qaeda leader responsible for bringing down the World Trade Centre in an attack that claimed over 3,000 lives in 2001: “I still consider him as a better Muslim than myself.”
Pantami’s comments were translated by Professor Andrea Brigaglia, an African expert at Naples University in Italy. Nigerian scholar, Musa Ibrahim of the University of Florida in the United States, contributed to the paper that explored the onset of Boko Haram in Nigeria.
Top journal publisher academia.edu published the research in March 2019, several months before Buhari tapped Pantami as a minister. Pantami’s violent preachings, which he rendered in Hausa and Arabic throughout the late 1990s and early to mid-2000s, had gone largely unreported in the Nigerian mainstream media.
While debunking the report, however, Pantami took to Twitter to claim he has always preached against Boko Haram. He also retweeted several handles that described him as a peaceful Islamic scholar, an attempt at image laundering that Italian and African scholars have now punctured.
“It is unbelievable that President Buhari will appoint a man like Isa Pantami to be a minister in a secular country like Nigeria,” political analyst Mohammed Tukura told The Gazette. “A president that believes in national cohesion will not appoint a fundamentalist who shares the same views as leaders of Boko Haram and Taliban.”