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This Video Shows Pantami Debating With Boko Haram Founder, Not Having Friendly Conversation With Him

The video of Dr Isa Pantami, a Nigerian minister, and Muhammad Yusuf, Boko Haram founder, is of a debate where Pantami is educating Yusuf against extremist anti-western education ideologies.

A freelance journalist David Hundeyin has shared a YouTube link showing Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, debating with the founder Boko Haram, Muhammad Yusuf, on the status of western education and working for Nigerian government. 

The journalist who runs a column with a Nigerian national daily claimed that the video shows Pantami, “having a friendly conversation with a nice chap you may have heard of. Nice bloke called Mohammed Yusuf who founded Boko Haram.” 

However, the one hour video showing Yusuf and Pantami speaking in the Hausa language, was the second part of a videotaped religious debate that lasted about six hours of which about three hours of the video survived. 

The debate was held on June 25, 2006, and Pantami was opposing the stance of Yusuf on the permissibility of working under a secular government of Nigeria. 

It was recorded by Darul Islam Foundation in Bauchi, upon invitation sent to the Yusuf by Pantami, in which they were debating the main pillars of the Boko Haram ideology. 

In the part shared by Hundeyin, Pantami was reading an Islamic ruling that permits studying western education and working under a secular government in front of the Yusuf who was obviously flustered.

The ruling, according to Pantami, was issued by a scholarly body of about 290 highly acclaimed Islamic scholars within “Al-Islamul Yaumiy” from various countries across the world. 

Pantami had also argued that it is not permissible for Yusuf to speak or give religious rulings on secular education because he did not attend conventional schools. 

“Mallam, between you and Allah, did you attend primary school in your life?” Pantami asked Yusuf. 

“So, in principle, how can a person give a religious ruling on the permissibility or non-permissibility of something when he did not even attend primary school in his life?” Pantami questioned rhetorically. 

Pantami had also tried to point out how Qur’an directly mentioned the permissibility of working even under an irreligious government by providing the stories of Prophet Yusuf from the Holy Book. 

Yusuf was engaged in several debates and public lectures by different Salafi clerics in Northern Nigeria. However, the debate between him and  Pantami was the only one whose video has publicly surfaced. 

After the death of Yusuf in the hands of Nigerian forces, Pantami was repeatedly issued a number of threats by Boko Haram terrorists who saw him as an enemy who tried to destroy the ideology with the debate. 


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Aliyu Dahiru

Aliyu Dahiru Aliyu is a researcher with expertise in areas such as fact-checking and insecurity. He was a research programs officer at the CDD West Africa and Tech. Officer at CITAD. He has contributed to CNN, BBC, etc.

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