Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, a prominent Islamic cleric, has warned that Isa Pantami must not be removed as Minister of Communications and Digital Economy or else Nigerians will regret the action.
Gumi said this in an interview published on Monday.
Pantami 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, 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.
But the renunciation did not spare the minister from a deluge of criticisms, with some Nigerians calling on him to either resign or be sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari.
However, Gumi described the claims against Pantami as fake, saying the same terrorists are after the minister’s life for challenging them.
He called on Nigerians to discard the allegations against Pantami, noting that the minister is a stabilising force in the government whose contributions will be missed if he is forced out of office.
“You cannot Islamise the whole world. Jesus Christ came; he could not Christianise the whole world. Nobody can Islamise or Christianise Nigeria,” Gumi said on Roots TV.
“All his actions, one hundred percent, shows he is not a terrorist. Those who are terrorists are after his life. The minister should continue. His presence there is fighting the terrorist ideology.
“Show me one person he has killed. He has not killed anybody. He has not ordered the killing of anybody. Discard the fake news. The man is stabilising a government among a section of youths, which we want them to come and join in nation-building. They should not throw him away. Leave him. He is not a terrorist sympathiser.
“And you people are fighting them. No. You should get more people like Pantami and put them in power. It will stabilise. Don’t remove him. You’ll regret.”
The Presidency has also defended Pantami, alleging that information and communications technology (ICT) companies are the ones behind calls for the minister’s removal.