Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu, says the crime of alleged certificate forgery involving a former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, is different from the extremist views of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami.
Speaking during a Channels TV programme on Friday, Shehu said the presidency’s response “would have been different” if Pantami had forged his certificate like Adeosun did.
Former minister Kemi Adeosun resigned as minister in September 2018 after it was reported that her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) exemption certificate was forged to bypass Nigerian laws that mandate public officials to undergo the one-year service.
There has been pressure on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to sack Pantami whose controversial sermons had recently gone viral.
In one of such sermons, Pantami praises notorious terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, and also speaks highly of terrorist network Al Qeda. However, he recently apologised for his extremist views, claiming he had since changed.
The Presidency on Thursday also took sides with Pantami, insisting that persons who were opposed to the reforms in the ICT sector being championed by Pantami were behind the campaign.
When asked the presidency let Adeosun go but defended Pantami, Shehu said the latter’s case only involved people probing his thoughts and using it against him.
He said, “In the second case which is that of Pantami, you are probing the thoughts, what is called ‘McCarthyism’; you search the inner recesses of the minds of individuals, bring out things they have said or they are about to say or you think they would say and use that against them.
“If Pantami had forged certificate before coming into office, the attitude would have been different.
“We don’t remain in the same position, don’t assume that things cannot change. If the one who created you gives it to you that from being bad, you can become good, what says you should deny some other persons this right?”
He also lambasted those who had rejected Pantami’s apology, describing them as intolerant.
“Those people who stand in criticism of a man who has said he had wronged society, he has apologised and changed, and they are not willing to forgive him to move on, they are the ones who are the problem. They are the ones who are deeply intolerant,” Shehu said.