The Federal Government and the National Assembly were informed of the past radical pro-Taliban views of embattled Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, before his confirmation as minister in 2019.
A former Assistant Director with the Department of State Services (DSS), Dennis Amachree, disclosed this while speaking on PUNCH Online interview programme, The Roundtable, on Wednesday.
According to him, the DSS informed the Nigerian government about Pantami’s extremist views, but the minister was confirmed by the lawmakers due to a lot of factors, including federal character balancing.
KanyiDaily recalls that Pantami has been under pressure to step down from office over some comments he allegedly made several years ago in support of Al-Qaeda, Taliban and Boko Haram.
Reacting to the development on Wednesday, Amachree also called on Pantami to resign as it was difficult to deradicalise someone of his kind.
“There is no information that escapes the DSS. We have all of it, all. When I was working there, we keep a catalogue of anybody of interest that comes up to limelight in this country.
“During the vetting process for anybody to be appointed a minister or commissioner or anything, your name is sent to the DSS for vetting. They check your background up to the extent of your grandmother.
“They check your schools up to the extent of your primary school. And of course, they keep a tab on you online and offline. We get a lot from open source intelligence and I can tell you that in Pantami’s case, we have it.
“But there is a political angle to it. When somebody is being appointed, if the security agencies see that there is something wrong with his name, they will send it to the appointing agency.
“The appointing agency will now decide amongst other variables either religious variable, federal character balancing variable, or political variable and say that, ‘Oh, yes, we know that this guy has this and that but let’s appoint him.
“So, the political decision is not taken by the SSS. Even when you go to the Senate for confirmation, there is party by party and you can see that there are some political candidates that the opposition party will say that this one will not be appointed but because he belongs to that party, they will appoint him.
“So, these are political and federal balancing where they will say that there is nobody from this place that has been appointed, so let’s appoint him.”
The ex-DSS director also disclosed that the United States was gathering information on the communications minister, adding that they may place him on a no-fly zone.
“He (Pantami) has just submitted his name into US database. The cataloguing of people is not automatic, it comes in drips and drops,” Amachree said.
‘’Now, people are talking about him and that has come to the attention of the United States Embassy in Nigeria already. Now, they will do a deeper dive into his background. They will catalogue him and now they will start watching him and if it comes to a very critical level, they will place him on a no-fly zone.”
KanyiDaily recalls that a document has emerged showing how Pantami plotted with some Muslim leaders to assassinate former Kaduna State Governor, Patrick Yakowa, because he was a Christian.
The document also showed how Pantami and the Muslim leaders plotted to violently wipe away Christians from northern parts of Nigeria.