…You came under wrong order-Gbajabimaila
By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
But for what was considered a wrong presentation, the motion seeking to debate the resignation or outright sack of Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami for showing sympathy to the deadly activities of insurgents would have been entertained at Wednesday’s plenary of the House of Representatives.
The Minority Leader of the House of Representatives had moved for the immediate resignation or sack of the Minister.
Relying on under matters of privilege, Elumelu asked the House to cause a debate on the issue, particularly demanding Pantami’s exit from office.
It will be recalled that an outrage has been trailing Pantami’s sympathetic utterances for the jihadists even though he had since apologized for making the remarks in the 2000s before becoming a minister.
Elumelu said that Pantami’s apology does not hold water, stressing that even the Minister had apologized,
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”.
Ruling on the matter, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila who presided over the plenary faulted Elumelu for raising a point of privilege without showing how his privileges were breached.
This however came when many members had indicated interests to speak on the matter.
Usually, such issues are presented as a formal motion to be debated but Elumelu came under the point of personal privilege, prompting a technicality to it.
“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.