Speaker shoots down Minority Leader’s call for Pantami’s removal

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila on Wednesday shut down a motion sponsored by the Minority Leader, Hon Ndudi Elumelu, seeking the sack of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami over his admittance of previous support for Al-Qaeda and Taliban.

Elumelu (PDP-Delta) who raised a matter of privilege expressed grave concern over the public outcry on the minister’s support for terrorist groups before his appointment into President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet.

Worried by the development, the lawmaker specifically demanded the minister’s resignation or sack.

The minority leader who cited Order 6(1) said: “My privilege borders on one of the serving ministers called Sheikh Ali Ibrahim Pantami.

“He’s the honourable Minister for Communication and Digital Economy for the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The portfolio he currently occupies gives him the free latitude to administer, coordinate and manage flow of sensitive information within and outside the shores of Nigeria.

“There has been insinuation that he has direct links and personally subscribe to the extreme Islamic beliefs of Al-Qaeda, Taliban and Boko Haram sects.

“Recently, while the Minister was answering questions during his Ramadan lecture at Anum mosque, a few days back, he owned up to the fact that he took extreme positions in support of the brutal exploits of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban out of ignorance, claiming that he was young when he did that, but now he’s mature.

“My worry is that I’m a serving member of this Chamber and for the past few days, I’ve been inundated with calls from my constituents claiming that if it is right for this House, that they’ve always seen talking about insecurity, to sit on this floor and tolerate the fact that a serving Minister where there are allegations of him becoming a member of Al-Qaeda or Boko Haram owned up and said he did whatever he did because as at that time because he was a youth.

“And he is still serving in this administration. Mr Speaker, I feel that it will be out of place for me to sit here and allow this Chamber not to speak about it and totally call for his resignation or suspension. This is my submission, Mr Speaker.”

In his ruling, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila who observed that the Minority Leader’s observation came under the wrong Order, said: “Thank you Hon Elumelu. I think he came under the wrong order.

“Your point of order is well noted. But you know we don’t debate such issues if it comes under order of privilege, thank you.”

 

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