Information minister Lai Mohammed said on Wednesday that the raging controversy over Isa Pantami was not discussed at today’s Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“I will answer your question directly. It was not discussed at the council meeting,” Mr Mohammed said while briefing reporters shortly after the meeting.
The minister said nothing was mentioned about whether or not the administration was comfortable with the minister’s past controversial comments.
“I’m not going into the issue of whether government is comfortable or not,” Mr. Mohammed said.
Mr Pantami, communications minister, has been under fire since his past comments praising global terrorist organisations and expressing his delight at the killing of unbelievers became public.
Nigerians said a country facing acute insecurity, including a decade-long insurgency, should not have a terrorist sympathiser as a member of the president’s cabinet. Nigerians also said Mr Pantami’s role as the custodian of the country’s national identity database was too consequential for national security to be left for someone of his character.
Mr Pantami has refused to renounce his comments despite widespread demand, although he stated last weekend that he was not in support of terrorism. The minister also cited his past teachings in which he spoke harshly of terrorism and its perpetrator in Nigeria.
Mr Buhari has also not commented on the controversy, despite calls for him to do so or sack the minister forthwith.
FEC’s silence on Mr Pantami coincided with Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila’s decision to shut down a debate about the minister’s comments at the House of Representatives.