THE Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu, on Wednesday, urged the House to demand the resignation or sacking of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, over his records of once backing activities of Jihadist leaders and deadly Islamic sects.
Controversy has been surrounding Pantami, who once preached the violent cause of extremist Islamist sects and Jihadist narratives of al-Qaeda and the Taliban before he became a minister in the cabinet of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
At the plenary on Wednesday, Elumelu raised a point of order to demand that the House should act on the issue.
He particularly demanded the minister’s resignation or sacking.
The Minority Leader said, “Mr Speaker, I have a ‘privilege’ point of order under Order 6 Rules 1 and 2. My privilege bothers (on the issue of) one of the serving ministers called Sheikh Ali Isa Ibrahim Pantami.
“There have been insinuations that he has direct links and personally subscribes to the extreme Islamic beliefs of al-Qaeda, Taliban and Boko Haram sects. There are evidence, compelling, on the cyber space to buttress and lead strong credence to a relationship and existing mutual collaboration between him and terrorists.
“Recently, while the minister was answering questions during his daily Ramadan lecture at An-Nur Mosque (Wuse, Abuja) 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 and now, he is mature.”
He added, “Mr Speaker, my worry is that I am a serving member of this chamber and for the past few days, I have been inundated with calls from my constituents, claiming that if it is right; that they have always seen this House talk about insecurity and can sit on this floor and tolerate the fact that a serving minister, where there are allegations of him being a member of al-Qaeda or Boko Haram, and he is still serving in this administration.
“I feel that it will be out of place for me to sit here and allow this chamber not to speak about it. I totally call for his resignation or suspension. This is my submission, Mr Speaker.”
Ruling on the prayer, Gbajabiamila dwelled on the technicalities of the order raised by Elumelu.
The Speaker said, “I think you came under the wrong order because you have not stated how your privilege has been breached. But your point of order is well noted. As you know, under privilege, we don’t debate such issues if it comes under privilege. Thank you.”
Gbajabiamila, therefore, called on another member to present a motion.
The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, however, overruled the Minority Leader, noting that Elumelu came under the matter and the matter being raised had nothing to do with his privilege as a lawmaker.
“Your point of order is noted,” Gbajabiamila said, and hit the gavel.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the House Committee on Navy, Yusuf Gagdi, has faulted critics of the National Assembly for approving Pantami’s ministerial nomination.
While it is the Senate that confirms cabinet appointments, the lawmaker stated that the National Assembly only acts on security clearance by the Department of State Services.
Gagdi, while answering questions from journalists at a press conference, stated that only the president can hire and fire his cabinet members.
The lawmaker partly said, “I will not say that the DSS and the National Assembly acted in error. The National Assembly and the DSS are not God. You will never get all the information about every individual during confirmation, because the DSS is not God.”