The Federal Executive Council (FEC) at its meeting on Wednesday declined to discuss the swirling controversy over the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, whose resignation is being demanded by some Nigerians for previously expressing support for the international terrorist groups, Al-Qaeda and Taliban.
Pantami was one of the ministers who attended the cabinet meeting, remotely through video link up. The session was chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the council meeting in Abuja, said the issue was not raised at the meeting.
Asked by journalists whether the Council discussed the matter and whether the government was comfortable with the burden on its image, Mohammed responded: “I’m not going to go into the issue of whether government is comfortable or not. I will answer your questioned directly. It was not discussed at the Council meeting.”
Pantami, who had been embroiled in controversy over his unearthed comments endorsing both terrorists organizations, has however, announced that he has renounced the views.
He said during his daily Ramadan lecture at Annor Mosque in Abuja last Saturday that he now knows better about some of the comments he made in the past.
Pantami also argued that the campaign against him is politically motivated.
According to him: “For 15 years, I have moved round the country while educating people about the dangers of terrorism. I have traveled to Katsina, Gombe, Borno, Kano states and Difa in Niger Republic to preach against terrorism.
“I have engaged those with Boko Haram ideologies in different places. I have been writing pamphlets in Hausa, English and Arabic. I have managed to bring back several young persons who have derailed from the right path.
“Some of the comments I made some years ago that are generating controversies now were based on my understanding of religious issues at the time, and I have changed several positions taken in the past based on new evidence and maturity.
“I was young when I made some of the comments; I was in university, some of the comments were made when I was a teenager.
“I started preaching when I was 13, many scholars and individuals did not understand some of international events and therefore took some positions based on their understanding, some have come to change their positions later.”