Minister of communications and digital economy Isa Pantami has renounced his past comments supporting the cause of terrorist groups such as the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
The minister said on Saturday that he had become more mature on religious matters, saying he made the radical comments while in the university.
“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 while answering questions during his daily Ramadan lecture at Annor Mosque in Abuja.
“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.
“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, some have come to change their positions later.”
Pantami, an Islamic scholar, faces growing calls for resignation over his past comments on terrorism. Peoples Gazette reported he once declared that he was always happy when infidels were massacred.
His latest comments contrast with his earlier argument that he was misunderstood.
Many Nigerians on Twitter believe the minister could not be trusted with public data, especially with the ongoing National Identification Number and Subscriber Identity Module integration exercise under his watch.