From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidency has described as fake news a report that Minister of Communications Isa Pantami was on the terror watchlist of the United States government according to a daily newspaper, not the Daily Sun.
The Personal Assistant to the President on New Media, Bashir Ahmad, reacting to the retraction of the report by NewsWireNGR on Twitter said: ‘You have just endorsed a fake report without verifying. As a media outlet @NewsWireNGR you know exactly how to verify such reports, but no, you are here pushing a false and dangerous narrative to your thousands of followers. FYI @DrIsaPantami has never been on any US watchlist.’
The news medium had in its reported said Pantami, who allegedly was a close confidant of the late Mohammed Yusuf, the late leader of Boko Haram, was on the US watchlist.
The report had also claimed that Pantami had ties with Abu Quatada al-Falasimi and other Al-Qaeda leaders whom he revered and spoke highly of.
Earlier, the minister, reacting to the retraction, threatened to go to court, advising the news outlet to get an objective translator in future to avoid running into trouble while translating Hausa.
Pantami posted on Twitter: ‘@NewsWireNGR your RETRACTION through your independent investigation,has been noted. However, investigative journalism requires the investigation before publishing, not after.
‘Further, major publishers will meet my lawyers in the court on this defamation of character.
‘My lectures against the doctrines and all other evil people have been available for over 15 years, including debates that endangered my life against many criminals in Nigeria. If you can’t understand Hausa, get an objective Hausa speaker to translate for you objectively.’
1) @NewsWireNGR your RETRACTION through your independent investigation,has been noted. However, investigative journalism requires the investigation before publishing, not after.
Further, major publishers will meet my lawyers in the court on this defamation of character. https://t.co/08W3dP4tlf
— Isa Ali Pantami, PhD (@DrIsaPantami) April 12, 2021
The daily newspaper, in its retraction, apologised, adding that a thorough investigation has shown that the report is not true.
The paper said: ‘Several concerns have been raised with respect to the veracity of the story alleging Nigeria’s Minister of Communications, Sheikh Isa Pantami being placed on Terror watch-list for alleged ties with the late Boko Haram Leader Muhammed Yusuf in our publication.
‘We launched an independent audit to evaluate the story and found that there was no direct attribution by the said United States Government agency and we do apologise to our readers for re-publishing the report and also to the person of Sheikh Isa Pantami, Nigeria’s Minister of Nigeria’s Minister of Communications.
‘The video embedded in the story where the Minister and the late leader of Boko Haram revealed that, the minister and the late Boko Haram leader were in a heated debate. Sheikh Pantami in the video disagreed with Muhammed Yusuf’s position, insisting that Muslims should enrol in schools and equally participate in democractic governance. However, Yusuf argued to the contrary with little evidence from the Qur’an and Hadith which he relied on.
‘As an organisation, we always aspire to perform our due diligence in publishing or re-publishing third party articles with credible media organisations and in accordance with the highest ethical and professional guidelines and for this story, we found that story was published by Daily Independent without attribution.
‘Based on this development, we are retracting the story and deleting the article from our platforms, news websites and the various social media pages.’