Islamic cleric Ahmad Gumi has warned that Nigerians will regret it if communication minister Isa Pantami is removed from office, saying the minister is “stabilising the government among a section of youth.”
Mr Pantami has come under heavy pressure to resign or be sacked since his past public declaration of support for terrorist groups al-Qaeda and the Taliban re-emerged into national discourse in the past ten days.
But Mr Gumi, a Kaduna-based Islamic preacher who has embarked on a self-imposed mediatory role between bandits ravaging parts of the North and the authorities maintained that Mr Pantami was not a terrorist sympathiser.
He said in an interview with Roots TV that the embattled minister was rather a nationbuilder who was working to attract other youths of his Ilk to support the government.
“Show me, one person, he has killed?” Mr Gumi queried. “He has not killed anybody. He has not ordered the killing of anybody. The man is stabilising a government among a section of youth which we want them to come and join in nation-building.”
The cleric’s assertion however appears to contradict available facts. Media reports indicated that in 2004, a fatwa for the killing of Samuel Achi, a 400L student of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi was issued under the authority of Mr Pantami as the Chief Imam of the university’s mosque.
Peoples Gazette had also exposed how Mr Pantami offered to lead Islamic fighters into a Christian dominated areas of Plateau State, following a religious clash in the 2000s.
Still, Mr Gumi who has been advocating for amnesty for bandits who have been terrorising citizens across northern states, says Mr Pantami was a victim of wicked campaigns to remove him from office.
“And you people are fighting them. No. You should get more people like Pantami and put them in power. Don’t remove him. You’ll regret,” Mr Gumi warned.
The Islamic cleric’s stand tallies with that of the Nigerian presidency which claimed that Mr Pantami has not committed a grievous offence. Aso Villa insists Mr Pantami would not be sacked from office since he has apologised for his past pro-terrorism utterances, claiming he was young when he made those reckless takes.