Isa Pantami Says Forces Against NIN Registration Are Behind For Recent Attacks Against Him
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, has denied links to extremist views, saying criminals and other entrenched interests are behind the attacks on him.
He alleged that forces against Federal Government’s compulsory policy on National Identification Number (NIN) registration for all Nigerians and those residing in the country are behind recent attacks against him.
Pantami disclosed this in an interview with PremiumTimes, saying criminals and other ‘entrenched interests’ are behind the attacks on him.
There has been a growing call for his resignation following reports that alleged that the Minister is linked to Boko Haram and Al Qaeda terror groups.
The reports claimed that Pantami was placed on US watchlist over alleged ties with late Boko Haram leader, late Mohammed Yusuf, who was said to be a close confidant.
It also alleged that Pantami had ties with Abu Quatada al Falasimi and other Al Qaeda leaders whom he revered and spoke highly of.
The report stated that before his appointment as a minister, Ibrahim was a known Islamic preacher and held what was termed ‘dangerous views’ against US government with allegiance to Al Qaeda.
Some reports also claimed that in an audio of him speaking in Hausa, he declared his support of Boko Haram.
Reacting to the allegations directly in the interview, Pantami said;
I have no doubt about this. It has to do with the National Identification Number. Do you know one thing? This policy was started in 2011, it was not successful. Why? It was fought.
In 2015, it came up, it was not successful. In 2018 there was a time that there were meetings between government and mobile network operators.
And it was actually announced that by the agreement with government, the deadline was January 2018. It is there online, I will share it with you if you like. By January 2018, it was not implemented because there are forces against it. There are forces!
Now they have started coming with the news that people are coming from neighbouring countries to register. What they fail to understand is that the National Identification Number is not only for Nigerians; anybody in Nigeria can obtain it. Section 16 and 17 of the Act mention the registrable people in the country – citizens, legal residents, legal permanent residents, and legal residents for a minimum of two years.
So, it is not only for citizens. And it is also important to know that this is not just an indication that they are citizens of Nigeria. It is rather an indication that you presented your biometric data, so government has control over your data. And that data of NIMC (National Identity Management Commission), nobody has an access to it in any way he likes. Getting access to it illegally is 10 years in prison. It is there in the law. But people will like to discredit it, because they don’t like it.
The Minister stressed;
As long as it is implemented by government, it will go a long way in reducing crime and based on the statistics we have been seeing now, it’s really encouraging.
As government, our priority is the protection of lives and property of our citizens. Security is our priority as a government – whether in agric, digital economy, education or in health, in whatever. President Muhammadu Buahari is so passionate about security, and he directed me to do that because he knows I try to persevere despite challenges and do what is right in the interest of our citizens and humanity.