NIGERIA’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Ali Isa Pantami has renounced past controversial comments supporting terrorism and terrorist groups.
The minister said he was young when he made the comments, stating that he was now mature and had come to understand issues better.
He also said the campaign against him was politically motivated.
The ICIR had earlier reported how the minister came under severe criticism, with many demanding for his resignation, after controversial comments made in the past in support of Jihad, Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban surfaced online.
Pantami’s statement of admiration for the Taliban’s, Al-Qaeda and Jihad were from some of his preaching and lecture recordings translated by a professor and African expert at Naples University in Italy Andrea Brigaglia, and a Nigerian scholar Musa Ibrahim of the University of Florida in the United States, both of whom contributed to the academic paper published in March 2019 that explored the emergence of Boko Haram in Nigeria.
Pantami, according to Daily Trust, spoke while answering questions during his daily Ramadan lecture at Annor Mosque in Abuja on Saturday.
He said, “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,” he said.
“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,” he explained.
“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. slSome have come to change their positions later,” he noted.