The Nigerian government has said it is investigating top ICT firms in the country to ascertain their role in the ongoing controversies surrounding the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, leading to calls for his removal. This is even as the government says it is backing the embattled Minister irrespective of the weighty allegations of terrorism support leveled against him.
Reports first emerged last weekend that the Minister was on the United States’ terrorists watch list, which the Minister vehemently denied and threatened to sue the media houses. However, further investigations by some online platforms revealed more about the Minister, with old audio and video evidence of the Minister’s preachments in support of Al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorist groups. Pantami, however, subsequently announced that he had renounced the views, which he shared when he was ‘immature.
With the revelations, calls for the Minister’s resignation or removal by President Muhammadu Buhari continue to reverberate over social media.
However, the Presidency in a statement released on Thursday night it was hinted that some ICT firms affected by the Minister’s policies and actions were behind the calls for his removal.
“In putting people first, the Minister and this administration have made enemies. There are those in the opposition who see success and want it halted by any means. And there is now well-reported information that alleges newspaper editors rebuffed an attempt to financially induce them to run a smear campaign against the minister by some ICT companies, many of which do indeed stand to lose financially through lower prices and greater consumer protections.
“The government is now investigating the veracity behind these claims of attempted inducement, and – should they be found to hold credence – police and judicial action must be expected,” the statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Mr. Garba Shehu read.
“The Administration stands behind Minister Pantami and all Nigerian citizens to ensure they receive fair treatment, fair prices, and fair protection in ICT services,” the statement concluded.