A video of a Nigerian army commander saying that terrorists who have repented can become Nigeria’s President has resurfaced on social media following calls for the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami to resign.
Pantami became a risk to Nigerians after his comments supporting terrorist groups like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda surfaced online.
A video has now re-emerged on social media showing the General Officer Commanding the 7 Division, Major General Abdulmalik Bulama Biu, saying that repentant Boko Haram terrorists can become Nigerian president.
According to the video obtained from Channels Television website, the army commander spoke on July 21, 2019 during an interview with journalists in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
“Boko Haram should lay their arms unconditionally and be accepted. Opportunities are out there for them, they can be rehabilitated.
“An ex Boko Haram having laid his arms and turned away from his negativity, stands to be a president of this country; he stands to aspire to any position in this country. Why is he wasting his time when he cannot even deliver?” Biu had said.
Some two years after, the viral video has resurfaced online following a statement by presidential aide, Garba Shehu, on Thursday that the Muhammadu Buhari regime stands with Pantami.
The communications minister has been in the eye of the storm of late over past pro-Taliban comments support terrorist activities. Though he has since renounced the comments, blaming immaturity, many Nigerians continue to demand his sacking or resignation.
But in the statement on Thursday, Shehu ruled out the possibility of the sacking of the minister, saying, “The minister has, rightly, apologized for what he said in the early 2000s. The views were absolutely unacceptable then, and would be equally unacceptable today, were he to repeat them. But he will not repeat them – for he has publicly and permanently condemned his earlier utterances as wrong.
“In the 2000s, the Minister was a man in his twenties; next year he will be 50. Time has passed, and people and their opinions – often rightly – change.”
Outraged by the supposed verdict of the Presidency, many Nigerians have since taken to social media to censure the Buhari regime over its apologist stance on Pantami despite his past escapade with terrorists.
Award-winning journalist, Fisayo Soyombo, said the Presidency tacitly endorsed terrorism with its stance on the Pantami saga.
“The Presidency was gifted a landmark opportunity to proclaim its aversion to terror. Instead, it released a statement ‘standing by’ Pantami. This is tacit endorsement of terrorism. The government is emboldening people to go ahead and spew hate, and return years later to a pat on the back, @fisayosoyombo tweeted.
Also, journalist and researcher who has been digging into Pantami’s past radical life, David Hundeyin, exclaimed, “Your government has released an official statement saying that Isa Pantami has “apologised” for being a terror apologist and therefore it “stands behind” him. I have no words.”
“Soldiers in war front wasting their lives in the name of patriotism should be pitied really. The fight against terror will not end if it is continued in Sambisa. The real war front is Aso Rock where the real terrorists hide. Buhari open support for terrorism speaks volume,” stated another tweep, @mrfestusogun.
Also, @DanielRegha, described the Presidency’s defence of Pantami’s past radical life as unprecedented hypocrisy.
“This is hypocrisy; Pantami encouraged terrorism and Buhari’s administration has sentenced a lot of people to prison for saying less so why are they trying to justify this? The presidency is a big disappointment. God help Nigerians because we don’t have leaders; what an epic disgrace!”