The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, said he is a pragmatic muslim, who does not hold extremist views nor maintain rigid stances on issues.
He spoke in a Ramadan lecture at An-Nur Mosque in Abuja, amid social media campaign that he resign as a minister and an erroneous report that he has been placed on America’s watchlist for links with Boko Haram.
In a report of the lecture published by PRNigeria, Pantami also said that no Islamic preacher both in the past and in recent times has criticised and condemned the activities of Boko Haram terrorists more than he did.
He debunked reports that he ever supported the Boko Haram sect or promoted terrorism.
“On the claim that I am a Boko Haram sympathiser, I want to say that people who have been following my religious evangelism, as a scholar, dating back from 2005 and 2006, know me better. They know what I often preached about,” he said.
Pantami said within the last two decades, he was invited to Niger Republic, Katsina, Borno, and Gombe, among other northern states, where he ‘vehemently’ condemned Boko Haram’s ideology.
”Besides the evangelism missions I embarked on to speak against religious fundamentalism, I also published pamphlets on the nefarious activities of the terrorists’ sect,” he added.
Pantami said that though some of the media attacks on him were motivated by political and economic reasons, he would not be perturbed.
He further noted that he has never been fixated on issues, but rather changes his stance immediately he discovers that his viewpoints and verdicts on such issues are wrong.
He pointed out that though he started preaching as early as when he was 13 years old, his viewpoints have consistently changed as a result of acquiring more knowledge, exposure, travelling and maturity, as he advanced in age.
“I have changed my stance on some issues based on additional facts even after expressing Fatwa, a non-binding religious opinion in response to a question posed to me.”
Pantami disclosed that as a scholar he was able to preach to many fanatical youths who shunned terrorism and went to acquire quality education, becoming engineers and other professionals.
Dr. Pantami said he does not tolerate injustice, adding that every Nigerian has the right to practice the religion he likes, in line with the constitution’s provision for freedom of religion.
“If we recalled, President Joe Biden of the United States, then as a Senator in America, did not support the invasion of Afghanistan by his country. And at that time, I also did not.
“So, anything that will lead to war is what I have always been against. That is why I don’t like injustice.
“Barack Obama as American President then sought for understanding between the Muslim nations when he realized what he was thinking about them was wrong.
“So, in any given time, the last position is the right position, and that represents my views.
“I once saved two Corp members who were about to lynched in Bauchi State during a fight between Christian and Muslims. I personally took them to the mosque to save their lives.
“So, anybody who will protect Christians will you still call him a fanatic?
” Also, I want to say that I was never suspended or expelled from any school as a student or lecturer because of my views, especially on religious matters,” he said.