Why Isa Pantami engaged Boko Haram leader in a debate –Lawyer

Why Isa Pantami engaged Boko Haram leader in a debate –Lawyer

Michael Numa, counsel for Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, has explained that the minister, many years ago, engaged the late Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf in a public debate “to challenge his (Yusuf’s) doctrinal teachings as being entirely antithesis to Islamic doctrine”.

The lawyer also said the minister has not been placed on any ‘terror watch list’ for alleged ties with Yusuf.

Numa, who is a senior partner at legal firm, Karina Tunya and Company, stated this in a letter he signed on April 12, 2021.

The letter was addressed to the Managing Director/Editor-In-Chief of Daily Independent Newspaper. It was titled, ‘Libelous Statement Made Against The Person Of Dr Isa Pantami –The Honourable Minister Of Communication And Digital Economy’.

Also copied in the letter were the Inspector General of Police; as well as the Directors-General of the Department of State Services and the National Intelligence Agency.

According to Numa, Daily Independent, in a story, ‘Disquiet As America Places Nigerian Minister On Watch List’ on Sunday, alleged that the minister has been placed on a terror watch list by the United States over alleged link with the late Boko Haram leader.

But the legal practitioner described the report as “false, malicious, misleading,” adding that it was targeted at degrading Pantami.
Numa wrote, “It is pertinent to state that our client has at no point been placed on any watchlist or adjudged by any intelligence organisation worldwide to be associated with any terrorist organisation or known for advocating violent theology.

“It is on record that our client was among the first scholars to engage the late Boko Haram Leader, Muhammed Yusuf – in a public debate to challenge his doctrinal teachings as being entirely antithesis to Islamic doctrine. In fact, his televised debate with the late Yusuf has been one of the reference points often used to fight those who wants to skew Islam in order to lend credibility to terrorism in Nigeria.

“It is further on record that in February 2021, the acclaimed Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, in a 9-minute video announced that he has instructed his men to target and kill our client for being a known public critic of Boko Haram and for introducing a policy on SIM cards to frustrate terrorist activities in Nigeria.”

The counsel for the minister also demanded that the news platform retract the story within 24 hours of receipt of the letter, adding that the retraction must be published in “five national dailies and online media outfits across the globe”.

Earlier, The PUNCH reported that Pantami, an Islamic cleric, also said he has been preaching against the terrorist sect for over 15 years.

Social media platform, Twitter, was aghast on Monday when the report went viral.

Yusuf, founder of the militant Islamist group was killed in 2009 in Nigeria’s North-East. Yusuf’s death birthed a macabre era of unprecedented uprising; carnage, bombings, kidnappings, amongst other crimes against humanity, even till date, as military forces battle to clear the terrorists out of the entire North-East.

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