In a statement he issued Friday night, Ozekhome argued that although Pantami committed the alleged terrorist actions before the enactment of the Terrorism (Prevention Amendment) Act 2013, he might be prosecuted under Section 46 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, 2004 (EFCC Act).
In the inflammatory speeches, he’d voiced allegiance to and support for (including sympathy with) the Taliban,” Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram terrorist groups.
However, the minister said he had since changed his views.
In his admission, the minister said: “A number of the comments I made some years ago that are generating controversies today were based on my understanding of religious issues at the time, and I’ve changed several places taken in the past based on new evidence and adulthood.”
The Presidency has issued statements backing him.
After quoting copiously from the EFCC Act, which he stated was considerably wider in scope in the definition of terrorism,” Ozekhome explained:”The combustible and inflammable remarks of Pantami no uncertainty were intended to cause fear or make any authorities or bodies abandon a perspective, induce fear in the general public or government, etc. He can be billed under the EFCC Act.”
But since he made the statements in question before the Terrorism Prevention Act was enacted, the senior lawyer filed that”Pantami can’t so be prosecuted under the Terrorism Act, since his alleged terrorist actions occurred prior to the enactment of the Terrorism Act. The Terrorism Act does not have a retroactive or retrospective Act”
Section 36(8) of this Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), which provided that”No person shall be held to be guilty of a criminal offence because of any action or omission that did not, in the time that it took place, constitute such an offence, and no penalty shall be imposed for any criminal offence heavier than the penalty in force at the time the offence was committed”, supports Ozekhome’s position.
The attorney said that the Presidency missed the point as it rose in defence of Pantami.
He said: “Pantami’s albatross doesn’t have anything to do with his alleged effectiveness or efficaciousness within his duties. But, it has everything to do with his dangerous spiritual antecedents that, on the outside, he states he’s renounced but remains effectively practising in reality.
“Otherwise, why will he invite just a very little known Al-Afrikiy (a wholly Muslim Television station, that broadcasts strictly religious matters) to solely pay a programme of a whole Federal Government’s action — the virtual Flag-off capacity development programme on VSAT Installation abilities and TVRO Systems for 600 youths? Why?
“This was just on March 22, 2021.
“That is Nigerians’ great worry, Mallam Shehu. Do not run away from the substance and chase the shadow. Please, face the real issues at stake.”
According to him, Pantami’s religious bigotry, earlier inflammatory speeches in support of and sympathy with terrorist groups, such as Al Qaeda, Taliban and Boko Haram (the third group of whom shed blood that he described as”our Muslim brothers’ blood”), are the actual issues at stake.”
He said: “If we go by Garba’s pedestrian debate that mutually neglects the acid test of logic and rigorous reasoning, why did Nigerians not pardon brilliant Mrs Kemi Adeosun who had been accused of hammering her NYSC Certificate, rather than pressurize and induce her to resign her office?
“Why didn’t the Presidency trenchantly shield Mrs Adeosun, a Yoruba girl? Who was dangerous — a certification forger, or even a terrorist group sympathiser and supporter?
“Why support just Northern-Muslim Pantami? What about the death of one young lad, Sunday Achi, who was said to have been killed due to his incendiary preachment?
“What exactly did former CJN, Onnoghen do that made the Presidency crap, hound and search him out of office in a most early, disgraceful and unconscionable manner?
“What was the offence of the #EndSars innocent protesters, that was mindlessly and callously mauled down in the Lekki tollgate, even since they were harmlessly waving the Green-White-Green Nigerian flag in a peaceful protest? Why does the Presidency perennially possess a”siege mentality”?
“Why does the Presidency eternally play victimhood, when it is always the aggressor?
“Why do presidential spokespersons always scramble to outdo each other to beat Adolf Hitler’s Goebel to vile propaganda as exhibited during World War II? What is it hiding? Why weep over the bereaved? I cannot understand, or can you?”
For allegedly continuing to support terrorist groups, Ozekhome stated Pantami should be charged under section 5(2) of the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act.
“Pantami could be charged for terrorist actions because terrorism includes service for, and service includes (from the words of this Act)’incitement to commit a terrorist act through the world wide web or any electronic means or via the use of printed materials or by means of the dissemination of terrorist information'”.
He thus called on Pantami to honourably resign his ministerial appointment and rescue these clueless authorities of additional infamy, calumny, obloquy and odium’
He said: “Where he fails or refuses to do this (as I understand he would), then President Buhari should sack him. Where Buhari refuses (as I understand he would), then, every Nigerian or NGO who feels sufficiently concerned and aggrieved could approach the judges and request an Order of Mandamus, to compel the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, to prosecute Pantami, by virtue of section 174 of the 199 Constitution.
“Every person has the right (locus standi) to do this. The Nigerian Supreme Court has put this to rest as far back as 1981 from the causa celebre (celebrated case) of Senator Abraham Adesanya v. President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1981) JELR 54679 (SC).”
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