Mr Pantami has admitted making controversial statements supporting the extremist groups but said his views on such groups have changed.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has demanded that Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, be fired for previous statements supporting Islamic extremists.
Last week, audio recordings of Mr Pantami’s previous teachings, in which he declared support for Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, resurfaced, sparking debate on social media, with many Nigerians calling for his removal and others defending him.
Mr Pantami, an Islamic cleric, denied any ties to the terrorist organisations. He did, however, admit to making the divisive statements in support of the groups, but said on Saturday that his views on such extremist groups had changed.
“Some of the comments I made a few years ago that are causing controversy 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,” he said during an Islamic lecture at an Abuja mosque, according to the Daily Trust newspaper.
After more Nigerians learned of Mr Pantami’s past statements, many Nigerians have called for him to resign or be fired as minister.
Nigeria’s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), joined the call for the minister’s resignation on Sunday.
“Our party’s position is based on growing public and international concerns about possible compromises by the communication minister, who has access to sensitive government documents and information, as well as data of all individuals, including high-profile figures in the public and private sectors, as well as traditional and faith-based circles,” the statement reads.
The party also demanded that Mr Pantami be investigated by the State Security Service (SSS) for allegedly compromising “the NIN registration exercise by allowing aliens and invaders from other countries to be registered as our citizens.”
Mr Pantami claimed in an interview with news men that those opposed to the government’s policy of mandatory registration of the National Identity Number (NIN) and linking it to all SIM cards were behind the calls for his removal. Mr Malami’s ministry proposed and is implementing the policy.
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