The Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, has dismissed the reports accusing the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, of having ties with Boko Haram.
Daily Independent newspaper had published a report accusing the minister of being on the United States’ watchlist for associating with terrorist groups.
But the Director of MURIC, Ishaq Akintola, in a statement issued on Wednesday, said the accusation “is highly illogical.
The statement reads: “It is fake news. It is a lie from the pit of Jahannam. It is a product of malice, envy and evil desire concocted in the laboratory of the notorious ‘pull him down’ (PhD) syndrome. It exists only in the imagination of the authors of the evil plan. It will not stand the test of authenticity.
“Pantami is an honest, diligent and uncommon Islamic scholar whose ability to combine his discipline with digital expertise has raised him above his peers and made him an indispensable asset to this country. It is only people with diseased minds who do not want progress for Nigeria that can make such malicious yet false allegation against him.
“We have been reading Pantami’s articles and watching his lecture videos long before he became minister and on no occasion did he pour encomiums on terrorists or their aides.
“On the contrary he always condemned violence and terrorism. Therefore, those who claim that Pantami ‘spoke glowingly’ of associates of terrorist leaders are apostles of Lucifer and pathological liars.
“In fact, Dr. Pantami removed the rug from under the feet of Yusuf, the erstwhile leader of Boko Haram. This he did in several debates during his days as a university lecturer and those videotapes are still available for all to watch.
According to Mr Akintola, the allegations were made in order to distract attention away from the National Identity Number, NIN, linkage to SIM cards.
“We strongly suspect that those behind the fake news are jittery over the minister’s revolutionary ideas particularly the ongoing linkage of the NIN with SIM cards.
“This development is believed to be giving criminals sleepless nights as it is capable of exposing their identities.
“This fake news is therefore an attempt to blackmail him into stopping the revolutionary linkage of the NIN to the SIM.
“Nevertheless, the fact that the United States embassy has dissociated itself from the allegation thereby giving the minister a clean bill of health is didactic and reassuring.
The director noted that MURIC had also been a victim of false allegations in the past linking them to terrorist groups.
“MURIC is constrained to react to the fake story not only because of our deep commitment to upholding the truth and defending the innocent, but also because we have also been victims of such malicious and damaging false allegation in the past.
“Those behind the allegation could not substantiate it and nothing was heard of them again. We knew at the time that it was an attempt to blackmail us into silence but we refused to be silenced by men of evil.
“We denied the allegation and we forged ahead with the protection, promotion and projection of Allah-given and fundamental rights of innocent Nigerians.
Mr Akintola affirmed MURIC’s solidarity to the minister, adding that Nigerians would support him for the work he does for the country.
“We therefore advise Dr. Pantami to ignore his detractors and continue the good work which he is doing for the country. Nigerians are proud of him. Nigerians are praying for him. Nigerians repose their full confidence in him.
“MURIC is solidly behind him in his efforts to digitalize the economy and rid Nigeria of criminals and unscrupulous elements.
“We invite the minister to ponder over the words of the messengers of Allah to Lut, ‘And when Our messengers came to Lut, he was grieved on their account and he felt powerless. But We said, “Fear not, nor grieve. We shall save thee and your followers …’ (Qur’an 29:33).
“Again Allah assures those who believe in Him, ‘Do not lose heart, nor fall into despair, for you shall be victorious as long as you have faith in Allah’ (Qur’an 3:139).”
“We urge the Fourth Estate of the realm to demonstrate full professionalism when carrying out their duties.
“There is no excuse whatsoever for defamatory reports that cannot be backed with evidence. Facts are sacred and they must be investigated with microscopic accuracy.
“Journalists should not allow themselves to be used by selfish and callous individuals for their personal gains,” the statement concluded.