The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has berated President Muhammadu Buhari for defending the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, who back terrorism previously.
Pantami had once revealed how joyful he used to feel with the killing of those he considered infidels.
The minister said this in three audio recordings of his teachings in the 2000s, when he condemned deadly operations of the then Al Qaeda and Taliban elements who were on a campaign to obliterate the West and conquer other parts of the world.
Pantami in his submission while responding to audience questions about his views on the then leader of the terrorist group, Osama Bin Laden, stated that he still considers the leader of the extremists a better Muslim faithful to himself.
But the minister recanted the comments, saying that he has “changed several positions taken in the past based on new evidence and maturity.”
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari in a statement on Thursday stated that he would not sack his Communications minister.
In a statement by Garba Shehu, his media assistant, Buhari said Pantami’s ordeal in the hands of those calling for his sack was not about his past utterances but about his current job as a minister.
Buhari backed Pantami’s explanation that he was young when he made those statements and that his position had since changed.
Speaking in an interview with The Punch, CAN General Secretary, Joseph Daramola, stated that non-Muslims have been the target of Pantami right from his days as Chief Imam of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University mosque in Bauchi State.
Daramola said it was not surprising that the Presidency swiftly came out to exonerate Pantami despite his past radical views and support for terrorists.
“What do you expect? You think the Presidency will sack him? There is what we call corporate interest. The Presidency is protecting its interest. Didn’t the Presidency appoint Pantami in the first place?” he asked.
“Pantami must have been given specific instructions. Government studies the characters they put in particular positions. If you are eloquent in speaking and you can lie, you can be made minister of communications. If you are one that knows how to fight workers, you can be made minister of labour. If you are known for your academic prowess and you can manipulate the academic environment to suit government policies, they put you in education.
“So, that is what government does. Should we now expect government to say, no, we jettison him (Pantami)? No, they won’t deny him. They have their reasons for making him a minister in the first place.”
Recall that reports had emerged of Sunday Achi, a 24-year-old son and 400-level student of Architecture at the ATBU at the time, was strangled at the campus mosque by Muslim students over allegation that he circulated a Christian tract that contained blasphemous content.
The victim’s father, 67-year-old Samuel had said the ATBU Muslim community at the time when Pantami was Chief Imam issued a fatwa on his son and killed him on December 9, 2004.
Sunday was the leader of the students’ fellowship of the Evangelical Church Winning All Ministry at the university at the time.
Reacting, CAN secretary said that non-Muslims have been the target of Isa Pantami’s religious fundamental views.
Daramola said, “Who are his (Pantami) target? Who are his actions targeted at? Who receives the actions and inactions of Pantami? Non-Muslims are his target.
“Has he denied ever doing it? He never denied. He said, ‘I did it’ but put a caveat there; ‘I did it when I was young.’
“He was of age at the time that Christian student was killed in Bauchi. He proclaimed fatwa on students when he was at ATBU and a Christian was dragged out of his hostel and killed and the minister said he didn’t know that time? Let nobody call dog monkey to us.”