The Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu, on Wednesday, urged the House to demand resignation or sack of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, for backing activities of terrorist groups in the past, but his request was shut down by House speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Relying on under matters of privilege, Elumelu had moved for the immediate resignation or sack of the Minister, asking the House to cause a debate on the issue.
Pantami is currently facing scrutiny over his past utterances in support of terrorist groups such Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, with many calling for his resignation.
Speaking at plenary on Wednesday, Elumelu said: “Mr Speaker, my privilege border on one of the serving ministers called Sheikh Ali Isa Ibrahim Pantami. He is the Honourable Minister for Communication and Digital Economy of the federal republic. And the portfolio that he currently occupies give him the free latitude to administer, coordinate and manage the flow of sensitive information within and outside the shores of Nigeria.
“And Mr. Speaker, there have been insinuations that he has direct links and personally subscribes to the extreme Islamic believe of Al-Queda, Taliban and Boko Haram sects. Evidence compelling the cyberspace lays strong credence to a relationship and existing mutual collaboration between him and the deceased Yemen terrorist. Recently, Mr Speaker, while the minister was answering questions during his daily Ramadan lecture, a few days back, he owned up that he took extreme positions in support of the brutal exploits of Al-Queda and the Taliban out of ignorance, claiming that he was young when he did that, but now he is matured.
“Mr Speaker, my worry is that I am a serving member of this chamber and in the last few days, I have been inundated with calls from my constituents claiming that if it is right, that this House they have always seen talk about insecurity can sit down on this floor and tolerate the fact that a serving minister where there are allegations of him being a member of Al-Queda and Boko Haram, owned up and said that he did whatever he did at that time because at that time he was youth and he is still serving in this administration.
“Mr Speaker, I feel it will be out of place for me to sit here and allow this chamber and not to speak about it and totally call for his resignation or suspension.”
Elumelu’s submission, however, was vigorously opposed by House members from Northern part of the country. Amid the controversy, House Speaker, Gbajabiamila struck out the motion.
Gbajabiamila faulted Elumelu for raising a point of privilege without showing how his privileges were breached.
“I think you came under the wrong order. 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 said.