Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, has said the controversy surrounding Isa Ali Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, was not discussed at the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting held on Wednesday.
The meeting, which is traditionally held every Wednesday, was the first presided by President Muhammadu Buhari since his return from the United Kingdom for a routine medical check-up, and the first to be held since the call for Pantami to resign escalated.
The minister has been subject to intense criticism in recent days after his previous videos and audios of his sermons surfaced on social media, suggesting that he tacitly supported the activities of terrorist groups, including Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
He has been in the spotlight after the Daily Independent published a report claiming that the minister, a known Islamic preacher before his appointment, is said to be a very close confidant of the late Mohammed Yusuf, the killed leader of Boko Haram with whom he allegedly shared jihadist doctrines.
The newspaper, in its now-retracted report, also reported that Pantami has been placed on the watch list of America’s Intelligence Service.
He, however, renounced his previous comments last Saturday, saying that he made some of the statements when he started his preaching at a young age based on his understanding of religious issues and that his views have now changed having got more enlightened over the years.
The embattled minister attended the meeting virtually from his office.
But when State House correspondents asked Mohammed, who appeared alongside Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Works and Housing, at the State House media gallery for the post-FEC briefing, about whether the Pantami controversy and the public’s demand were discussed at the meeting, he said it was not going to delve into the issue.
The government spokesperson was asked whether the council discussed the matter and if the government was comfortable with its burden on its image.
“I’m not going to go into the issue of whether government is comfortable or not. I will answer your question directly. It was not discussed at the council meeting,” Mohammed said.
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