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Pantami threatens to sue media platforms over alleged ties with Boko Haram

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Nigeria’s communication and digital economy minister Isa Pantami has threatened to sue some media platforms for publishing a report that claimed he has ties with Boko Haram.

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NewsWire on Monday published a report culled from Independent Newspaper that said Pantami was on the watchlist of the United States for allegedly aiding the activities of terrorist group Boko Haram.

The report circulated across social media platforms elicited different reactions from Nigerians, with many on Twitter, claiming the minister, who spearheads Nigeria’s citizen’s identity data gathering, was doing so for Boko Haram, Al Queada, and other terrorist groups.

An aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, Bashir Ahmad, said the media platforms that circulated the report “have just endorsed a fake report without verifying” and stated that “Dr Isa Pantami has never been on any US watchlist.”

NewsWire thereafter deleted the published article on its website and took down the Twitter post which garnered over 7,000 likes, retweets, and comments as of 2:00 pm. But the minister said his lawyers will meet the publishers of the report in court.

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“NewsWire Nigeria your RETRACTION through your independent investigation has been noted,” Pantami tweeted on Monday.

“Further, major publishers will meet my lawyers in the court on this defamation of character.”

The digital media platform in a statement apologised to the minister after it “launched an independent audit to evaluate the story and found that there was no direct attribution by the said United States Government agency.”

“We do apologise to our readers for re-publishing the report and also to the person of Sheikh Isa Pantami, Nigeria’s Minister of Nigeria’s Minister of Com­munications,” NewsWire said.

“We found that story was published by Daily Independent without attribution.”

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Pantami, however, said, “investigative journalism requires the investigation before publishing, not after.”

The minister explained that his lectures “against the doctrines and all other evil people (terrorists) have been available for over 15 years, including debates that endangered my life against many criminals in Nigeria.”

On the issue of NIN-SIM Verification to fight insecurity, Pantami said the government will not stop the mandatory excercise.

“Our priority as government based on the provision of our constitution 1999 (as amended) Section 14(2)b is SECURITY, not just economy. For sure, no going back at all. Let the sponsors continue,” Pantami tweeted. “If you are yet to verify your SIM using NIN, do it very soon, b4 (sic) our next action. Criminals are feeling the heat.”


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