Nigeria’s embattled Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, on Monday, said some unnamed persons were planning to release some doctored videos against him.
“We are in receipt of credible intelligence that the same forces, who have been championing a well-coordinated and richly funded campaign against Pantami, are now unto the next stage of their diabolic project,” Pantami’s media aide, Uwa Suleiman, said in a statement.
“This time around, the forces of evil are shopping for willing partners as well as their usual avenues to release doctored videos purporting to show the minister in an alleged compromising condition as a way of creating injury on his image,” he added.
“We are least surprised by this recent move which is a clear intensification of their desperation, having failed in their assault on the personality of the minister, despite their previous efforts.”
There had been calls for the resignation of the minister after his controversial comments on the activities of terrorists emerged on social media.
The renowned Muslim cleric expressed views sympathetic to groups such as al-Qaeda and Boko Haram.
In one sermon from the 2000s, he said he considered al-Qaeda founder, Osama Bin Laden, a better Muslim than himself, and in another, he said he was happy when infidels were massacred.
Recordings of him expressing these views began circulating on social media in April.
Although the minister had renounced the comments and insisted that he made them out of immaturity in the past, many Nigerians still insisted that he should resign or be sacked.
However, Nigeria’s presidency says it “stands behind” Pantami.
“In the 2000s, the minister was a man in his twenties; next year he will be 50. Time has passed, and people and their opinions – often rightly – change”, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said in a statement.
Ahmad Gumi, a prominent Islamic cleric, says the nation will regret it if Pantami is removed from office.
In an interview with Roots TV on Monday, Gumi said the allegations against the minister were unfounded and should be discarded.
“You cannot Islamise the whole world. Jesus Christ came; he could not Christianise the whole world. Nobody can Islamise or Christianise Nigeria,” Gumi said.
“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.”