The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has dismissed claims by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that President Muhammadu Buhari harbours a terrorist sympathiser in his administration.
In a statement jointly signed by BMO’s chairman, Niyi Akinsiju and secretary, Cassidy Madueke, the group said that the opposition party was lashing on fake news to further its disinformation agenda.
“We are actually not surprised that PDP and its leaders seek to make political capital of an issue that began with false claims that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami was on a United States terror watch list.
“What we find surprising however is that the opposition party and its sympathisers still latched on to it-even when the news medium that ‘broke the story’ had recanted and apologised.
“One would have thought they had substantial fresh facts on the matter, but it was a resort to their usual blackmail tactics that have never worked.
“Yes, the minister had admitted making comments in the past which were in line with general views of many Islamic clerics and scholars at the time, but, like the Biblical Apostle Paul, he has since had his ‘Road to Damascus’ experience based on new evidence.
“This had seen him leading the public charge against fundamentalist groups including Boko Haram, as a preacher, across Northern Nigeria for which a fatwa (death sentence) was passed on him.
“As a matter of fact, the Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau directed terrorists in Nigeria and across Africa to target Pantami for daring to block insurgents’ phone lines through the policy on linking SIM cards to NIN, as well as his anti-terrorism sermons.
“For us, it’s either PDP was being mischievous or it doesn’t have enough presence in the North, contrary to its claim, to know that Isa Pantami had, for some time now, been at the forefront of deradicalising thousands of young men who were hitherto enamoured of Book Haram’s heretic teachings on Islam.
“So we make bold to say that President Buhari is not harbouring a terrorist sympathiser in his cabinet, contrary to PDP’s mischievous claim,” it added.
BMO also argued that there was no way the minister could have scaled through security screening when he was nominated as a cabinet member if he indeed was a terrorist sympathiser.
“Does PDP indeed think that a terrorist sympathiser would be cleared by security to even appear before the Senate for ministerial screening?
“Is the party also calling to question the integrity of security agencies across the world, especially as Pantami has been traveling across the world since he became Nigeria’s Communication minister on official duty?
“We consider it disingenuous of PDP to even speak about international concerns about Pantami, when even the news outlets that made claims of a US terror watch list had recanted its unverified report and apologised to the minister.
“What we know however is that the minister has been doing the job President Buhari handed to him in 2019 well, to the disenchantment of certain vested interests, and this reflected in the performance of the sector he oversees in the GDP figures of Q4 of 2020 when Nigeria exited the COVID-19 induced recession,” it added.
The group, therefore, urged Nigerians not to be confused by the antics of individuals and groups who are not comfortable with President Buhari’s effort at leaving the country better than he met it.