“DSS informed FG of Pantami’s extremist views before appointment” – Ex-director says

The Department of State Services (DSS) informed the Federal Government and the National Assembly of the past radical pro-Taliban views of Isa Pantami before his confirmation as minister in 2019, this is according to an ex director of the agency.

Reports had last week said Pantami had been placed on the watchlist of the United States of America over alleged link with the leadership of terrorist group operating in the North East, Boko Haram.

According to the report, Pantami had ties with Abu Quata­da al Falasimi and other Al-Qaeda leaders whom he revered and spoke highly of.

Former Assistant Director with the Department of State Services, Dennis Amachree, while featuring on PUNCH Online interview programme, The Roundtable, yesterday, however, said despite giving the FG hint on Pantami’s past, the minister must have been confirmed by the National Assembly due to a lot of factors, including federal character balancing, as he is the only FEC member from Gombe state.

He said:

“There is no information that escapes the DSS. We have all of it, all. When I was working there, we keep a catalogue of anybody of interest that comes up to limelight in this country.

“During the vetting process for anybody to be appointed a minister or commissioner or anything, your name is sent to the DSS for vetting. They check your background up to the extent of your grandmother.

‘’They check your schools up to the extent of your primary school. And of course, they keep a tab on you online and offline. We get a lot from open source intelligence and I can tell you that in Pantami’s case, we have it.

“But there is a political angle to it. When somebody is being appointed, if the security agencies see that there is something wrong with his name, they will send it to the appointing agency.

‘’The appointing agency will now decide amongst other variables either religious variable, federal character balancing variable, or political variable and say that, ‘Oh, yes, we know that this guy has this and that but let’s appoint him.

“So, the political decision is not taken by the SSS. Even when you go to the Senate for confirmation, there is party by party and you can see that there are some political candidates that the opposition party will say that this one will not be appointed but because he belongs to that party, they will appoint him.

‘’So, these are political and federal balancing where they will say that there is nobody from this place that has been appointed, so let’s appoint him.”

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