Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, has said his past controversial comments on terrorist groups including Taliban and Al-Qaeda were misconstrued.
The minister also said he has no issues with Christians, adding that his personal driver, secretary and technical assistant are all Christians
Pantami made this known in an interview with Peoples Gazette on Friday.
He said, “My personal driver is Mai Keffi, a practising Christian. I also have a Christian, Ms Nwosu, as my secretary and Dr Femi, also a Christian, as my technical adviser.
“If I did not like Christians or I did not see them as my brothers and sisters, I would not have been working with them for so long. I employed more Christians than Muslims on my staff because I believe in merit and competence over ethnic or tribal sentiments.”
“I have never condoned terrorism and I reject any affiliation to terror groups. I have long preached peaceful coexistence amongst people of every faith and ethnicity,” the minister added.
Pantami has come under fire over his alleged link with terrorist groups, with many Nigerians calling on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) to sack the minister.
The Nigerian Twitter community also said the minister could not be trusted with the data of Nigerians, especially with the ongoing National Identification Number and Subscriber Identity Module integration exercise under his watch.
In a viral video recorded many years ago which was later confirmed by his lawyer, Michael Numa, the minister was seen engaging the late Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf, in a public debate.
Pantami, an Islamic scholar, according to Peoples Gazette, also once declared that he was always happy when infidels were massacred.
Peoples Gazette said Pantami’s comments were contained in three audio recordings of his teachings in the 2000s, when he took extreme positions in support of the brutal exploits of Al Qaeda and Taliban elements on a campaign to obliterate the West and conquer other parts of the world.
But the minister in his latest interview said his statements were misconstrued, rejecting affiliations with terror groups.
The hashtag #PantamiResign has since been trending online. The supporters of the minister have also come up with a counter-hashtag – #PantamiWillStay.