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CHRICED faults President’s position on Pantami

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Isa Ali Pantami

Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) has faulted President Muhammadu Buhari’s seeming shielding of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami.

CHRICED said it was alarming that the Presidency showed readiness to embrace someone with a long history of endorsing terrorism and religious extremism.

In a statement Tuesday, the Executive Director, Dr. Ibrahim Zikirullahi, warned that Buhari’s position on the Pantami issue would damage the country’s relationship with the key allies needed to vanquish the terrorists who make life a nightmare in Nigeria.

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He wondered how the government would expect the cooperation of key allies like the United States (U.S.), United Kingdom (UK), European Union (EU) and relevant agencies within the landscape of multilateral diplomacy, if seen as a state that habours someone with extremist views.

Zikirullahi stated that for a country that had been struggling to defeat terrorism for over a decade now, the government would be expected not to condone any association with terrorism, no matter how little.

He said: “How will these allies trust Nigeria with high calibre weapons, technology and intelligence, when they know that such secrets could be accessed by a sympathiser of a global terror group? The government does not seem to understand that its handling of the Pantami affair could invite serious reprimand from the Financial Action Task Force, which is the watchdog for global money laundering and terrorist financing.

“If the government’s half-hearted claim that Pantami has changed is anything to go by, the question to ask is: when did he become de-radicalised? Did he pass through any known process to purge him of his extremist views? How safe is the biometric information of close to 200 million Nigerians in the hands of a terror sympathiser? These are fundamental questions the government must immediately answer, if it is to be taken seriously.”

According to him, the other issue to think about is the implication of the government’s offhand approach to this issue on the internal realities of the country.

“For a country that is already being torn apart by sectarian strife, the government’s decision to side with a terror sympathiser has sent the wrong signal and further heightened mutual suspicions. This careless and reckless decision is live ammunition in the hands of separatist agitators who would stop at nothing to ensure the country implodes.

“All these considered, it is a big blow to the health of our country that Pantami has been given the green light to continue in high office despite his tainted past.”

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