As argument continues to surround the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, over reasonable links to terrorist groups, the Presidency has come under severe judgment for supporting the embattled senior government official.
Pantami, in one of his old speeches that resurfaced recently, praises notorious terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, and also speaks highly of terrorist network Al-Qaeda. However, he lately apologised for his extremist views, claiming he had since changed.
The Presidency, in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Thursday, said, “The administration stands behind Minister Pantami and all Nigerian citizens to ensure they receive fair treatment, fair prices, and fair protection in ICT services.”
However, a cross-section of Nigerians, including members of the House of Representatives, the Nigerian Bar Association, and the Christian Association of Nigeria, blasted the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), for preserving a plausible terrorist sympathiser.
The minority caucus in the House of Representatives criticised the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, for criticizing how the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, called for a debate on the issues around the embattled minister.
Opposition lawmakers argued that Elumelu came on the right order, saying Gbajabiamila should not have prevented a debate on the call.
The caucus also condemned the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, for allegedly insulting Elumelu, asking the House spokesman to apologise to the Minority Leader.
According to the caucus, while “standing with millions of Nigerians,” it “demands that the Speaker should immediately act on the prayers of the motion by communicating the same as the role of the House to Mr President, having accepted the suitability of the procedure and taken legislative note of the prayers therein.”
The spokesman for the caucus, Francis Agbo, on Friday, said this in a statement titled ‘Isa Pantami: Elumelu’s Motion Properly Presented on the Floor – Minority Caucus Replies House Spokesman…Caucus Insists on the Resignation of Minister Isa Pantami…Calls on House Spokesman to Apologise to the Minority Leader over His Reckless Statement.’
The statement read, “Our caucus will not condone any unwarranted attack on any of our colleagues, let alone the Minority Leader, who is doing very well by speaking the mind of the silent majority of Nigerians, who have no platforms to speak out.
“In any case, we are aware that Hon Kalu was not in plenary when the motion was moved. We expected him to have consulted the rule book before attacking the Minority Leader, for we believe if he had done that, he would have saved the 9th House of Representatives the embarrassment his statement has caused.”
“We, therefore, demand that Hon Kalu should withdraw his statement and tender an unreserved apology to the Minority Leader and Nigerians for misrepresenting the rules of the House.”
In the statement, Kalu dismissed the arguments by the resistant lawmakers, insisting that the rules of the House must be followed.
The statement partly read, “The House acknowledges the harshness of the issue and its nature as a matter of public concern. As always, the House stands ready to give audience to Rep Ndudi Elumelu or any other member of the House on this issue, provided that such audience is sought through the proper channels and brought under the relevant rules of the House.
“The relevant issue raised by Hon Elumelu, which is of national importance, is inadmissible under privileges for what it seeks to address, since matters under privilege, once breached, must be personal and internal to the House.
“This is why all matters of privilege are sent to the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges, not to the President directly as the House resolution, as alleged by the yet-to-be-tutored ‘spokesman’ of the minority caucus. One wonders what the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges will be doing with the sack of Pantami.”
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