Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, has urged the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, to condemn the takeover of Afghanistan by an Islamic militant group known as the Taliban or the Mujahedeen.
HURIWA, in a statement on Tuesday by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the minister should condemn the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan to show that he has indeed renounced his extremist views.
The statement was titled, ‘Minister of Telecommunications and Digital Economy should denounce Taliban in Afghanistan to show he has truly renounced his previous media reports of endorsement-: says HURIWA’.
HURIWA said Pantami “should have denounced the Taliban in Afghanistan as a practical demonstration that he has indeed renounced whatever sentiments or support he reportedly expressed in the past for Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
“We urge the minister to use this as a golden opportunity to distance himself from the Taliban so Nigerians believe that he indeed is not playing some tricks on us,” the group said.
Pantami’s aide, Uwa Suleiman, did not comment on the matter when contacted by The PUNCH on Tuesday.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that Taliban militants retook Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, about two decades after they were driven out by United States troops following their withdrawal beginning in early July.
Afghanistan civilian President Ashraf Ghani subsequently fled the landlocked Asian country on Sunday, abandoning the presidential palace to Taliban fighters.
Many Nigerians and other persons across the world have condemned the unfolding events in Afghanistan but the minister of communications and digital economy has been mum on the development.
Pantami, a former director-general with the National Information Technology Development Agency, is the only member of the Federal Executive Council from Gombe State.
He came under fire in April 2021 over his past controversial comments supporting terrorist groups including the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
A former lecturer at the Kaduna State University, Kaduna, Prof Samuel Achi, had told The PUNCH that Pantami was the Chief Imam at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University mosque in Bauchi State in 2004 when the Muslim community issued a fatwa on his son, Sunday.
According to the don, his son, a Christian fellowship leader on campus, was later killed in the middle of the night inside the ATBU mosque over allegations that he circulated a tract that contained blasphemous content.
In one of his sermons in the 2000s, Pantami had reportedly prayed, saying, “This jihad is an obligation for every single believer, especially in Nigeria… Oh God, give victory to the Taliban and to al-Qaeda.”
After initial denials, the minister denounced his radical comments early this year, saying he now knows better.
Many Nigerians called for the Pantami’s sacking or resignation but the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), exonerated the minister, saying that he should be forgiven because he made the statements at a much younger age. PUNCH