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Why Pantami Can’t Be Denied Visa, Ex-US Ambassador, Campbell


Why Pantami Can’t Be Denied Visa, Ex-US Ambassador, Campbell

A former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has revealed that freedom of speech and thought is integral to the American system, hence it could not have denied its Visa to the minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali-Pantami.

Recall that a report by Daily Independent had alleged that the United States had placed the minister on their terror watchlist over alleged ties with terrorist groups.

Although the newspaper later withdrew the report, the allegation had triggered social media campaign against the minister, with some calling for his resignation.

But while responding to an email chat with The Punch on the allegation Thursday, the former Ambassador said Mr Pantami’s sermons and other public statements could not be the only yardstick for putting him on its terror watchlist.

Mr Campbell, who served as ambassador to Nigeria between 2004 and 2007, said: “As for Dr. Pantami’s sermons and other public statements, a consular officer would want to know when he made them–years ago or yesterday.

“There is also the question of whether he advocated violence and whether his apology is a repudiation of what he said.

“Is he now part of an international terrorist network? Or, are some of his views merely parallel to those of, say, Osama Bin Laden? As you know, freedom of speech and of thought is integral to the American system.

“So, actions (including inflammatory rhetoric) weigh more heavily than the mere expression of ideas or beliefs. Each visa decision is made on a case-by-case basis.”

The former envoy, who authored the book, ‘Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink’, said it is rare for the US to comment on visas of individuals because of its policy on privacy.

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