A former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has revealed why the US may have given the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, a visa despite his extremist views.
Pantami had revealed during an interview last week that he had never been denied entry into the US and the United Kingdom.
This is despite the minister’s past extremist views and sermons wherein he glorified terrorist Osama Bin Laden, and others,
In an email chat with The Punch on Thursday, Campbell said the US usually pay more attention to actions than words because the US respects free speech.
He 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 served as ambassador to Nigeria between 2004 and 2007, said it is rare for the US to comment on visas of individuals because of its policy on privacy.