Pantami, Baba Ijesha…3 Nigerians who dominated the social media in April
By Ezinwanne Onwuka
Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, came under fire over his alleged link with terrorist groups.
Trouble began for the 48-year-old minister when a local news outlet reported that the minister had been placed on a United States watchlist for his alleged links to terrorism. The minister’s first reaction was to deny the allegation and threaten to sue the newspaper and any other medium that published the story, while also demanding a retraction and apology.
However, both audio and video recordings began to circulate widely on social media, documenting how the minister, at various stages of his career as an Islamic cleric, actually expressed views that not only bordered on religious extremism but also espoused an endorsement of the murderous activities of terrorist groups.
For instance, in one of the allegations against him, Dr. Pantami hailed the late Osama Bin Laden, founder of Al Qaeda, who orchestrated the terrorist attacks on United States soil on September 11, 2001, saying that he (Bin Laden) “is a better Muslim than myself.”
In another recording, the Islamic scholar and cleric said he was happy when infidels were massacred. “We are all happy whenever unbelievers are killed,” he said, his disgust for “infidels” oozing through every pore of his tanned skin.
Furthermore, he expressed support for the global Islamic extremist groups — the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in a 2019 academic document, ‘Debating Boko Haram.’ “This jihad is an obligation for every single believer, especially in Nigeria (hādhā jihād farḍ ‘ayn ‘ala kull Muslim wa-khuṣūṣan fī Nījīriyā),” he preached.
The speech, which is about 20 minutes long, concluded with the prayer, “Oh God, give victory to the Taliban and to al-Qaeda (Allahumma’ nṣur Ṭālibān wa-tanẓīm alQā‘ida).”
The various recordings revealed that Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Sheikh Isa Ali Pantami, is a terrorism sympathiser and a young man who has harboured and espoused religious extremism and dangerous views for as long as he has lived.
Following this, Nigerians on social media vigorously demanded (and is still demanding) his resignation with the hashtag #PantamiResign.
However, since the despicable views of his, held in the distant past, surfaced online and offline, Pantami has renounced some of his extremist remarks in the face of sustained public umbrage.
He said he regretted his views blaming it on youthful exuberance and ignorance. He made it clear that some of his staff are Christians from the southern part of the country. He declared that he is now mature and no longer holds the same extremist opinion.
Actor Olarenwaju James, popularly known as Baba Ijesha is popular for mostly Yoruba and English movies. But now he is trending on social media for allegedly raping a minor.
The actor was arrested on April 22 for sexually assaulting a minor – a 14-year-old girl. According to the PPRO Lagos State Police Command, Muyiwa Adejobi, the case was reported on April 19, 2021, by one Princess Adekola Adekanya, popularly known as Princess Comedian, at the Sabo Police Station. The matter was transferred to the Gender Unit of the state CID, Panti, Yaba, Lagos, for proper investigation.
The matter has, since then, generated a lot of heated dispute online, with a lot of mixed reactions in different quarters, especially among Nollywood actors. It took a lot of them by surprise and they also condemned the act.
His colleagues in the industry have been divided over the matter, with some of his female colleagues spitting fire, insisting that the embattled actor should be made to face the wrath of the law.
Among notable actors and entertainers who have joined the conversation and also in solidarity with comedienne Princess for the jailing of the 48-year-old actor are Iyabo Ojo, Ronke Oshodi Oke, Tonto Dikeh, Femi Branch, Toke Makinwa, Helen Paul, among others. On the other hand, actor Yomi Fabiyi, Lege Maimi, Kehinde Adams and others are demanding for the CCTV footage as an evidence of the alleged rape.
As the rape saga intensified, a video went viral on social media, where Baba Ijesha was captured on camera, begging for forgiveness after he was allegedly caught sexually molesting the victim, who happens to be Princess’ foster daughter. The video was released by the Nollywood actress, Iyabo Ojo amid reports that the police plan to release the accused on bail on Friday, April 30; probably as a protest against the release.
However, Hakeem Odumosu, the Lagos State Police commissioner, has clarified that the actor’s case is that of sexual assault and not rape. He further added that while the sexual assault offence is bailable, Baba Ijesha would remain in custody pending legal advice from the ministry of justice.
A mild drama occurred in the Nigerian Senate on Tuesday, April 27 between Smart Adeyemi, the senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District and Oluremi Tinubu, who represents Lagos Central Senatorial District. Both lawmakers are members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
In recent weeks, the country has witnessed a spike in criminal activities, from the Boko Haram insurgency to banditry and kidnapping.
Consequently, Nigeria’s troubles with crime was the major focus of Senate plenary on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 after Senator Sani Musa (Niger East – APC) raised a motion on the activities of bandits and Boko Haram terrorists in Shiroro and Rafi Local Government Areas of Niger State.
The plenary session on insecurity which lasted for over an hour had lawmakers complaining about the insecurity in Nigeria as well as possible solutions.
Adeyemi was one of the contributors to the debate. According to him, the country is facing the worst instability since the civil war.
While Sen. Adeyemi continued venting his anger at the “killing, maiming, insecurity in the country”, Mrs. Tinubu who sat beside him was disgusted by his comments.
The former first lady of Lagos, scolded him by describing the Kogi legislator as a “wolf in sheep’s skin”. She didn’t stop there. She further queried if the Kogi senator had also joined the opposition party, PDP (Peoples Democratic Party).
“Are you in PDP? Are you a wolf in sheep’s clothing?” she said, rebuking Adeyemi who simply ignored her interruption and continued with his speech.
Following this backlash, the Lagos legislator became the number one trending topic on Twitter in the early hours of Wednesday, April 28 as Nigerians, who were not pleased with her alleged statement of politicising the insecurity issue, berated her for her comments.
Tinubu’s comment has since been widely criticised by many Nigerians on social media as divisive, and deeply political to the detriment of thousands of Nigerians who are being kidnapped and/or killed all over the country.