Reps seek probe of Minister
By Christiana Ekpa
A member of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Gagdi
(APC Plateau ) has absolved the National Assembly, and the Department of State Services (DSS) over allegations of not digging deep into the background of the Minister of Communication and Digital Economic, Dr Isa Pantiami during his screening,
This was just as the minority leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta) Wednesday called for investigations into alleged terrorism link against minister Pantami.
Elumelu, at the commencement of plenary, came through an order of privilege, told the House that his privileged had been breached as a legislature by the allegations against the minister.
He said since the allegation started trending in both social and conventional media, he has been inundated with calls by his constituents, seeking what the House intended to do.
“A serving minister in this government was alleged to have links and personally subscribed to the beliefs of some terrorist groups. Recently during his Ramadan message, he owned up, but said he only did so out of ignorance.
“My worry is that I am a serving member of this house. Few days ago, I was inundated with calls from my constituents, who said this house has been talking so much on insecurity, yet not saying anything over such a weighty allegation against a serving minister. He should either resign, or be removed”, Elumelu stated.
According to him, his privilege as a member has been affected, and that he was not comfortable that the House would not say anything.
Responding, however, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila reminded him that he came under the wrong order, but that even at that; “your observations have been noted.
Equally Hon. Gagdi who is the Chairman of the House committee on Navy, while addressing the newsmen at the NASS complex said National Assembly, and the Department of State Services (DSS) are not to be blame for not digging deep into the minister during his screening.
The lawmaker said; “I would not say that DSS and the National Assembly acted in error. The National Assembly and DSS are not God. You will never get every information about every individual during confirmation. Because the DSS is not God. You don’t have the capacity to know everything about me. So it is when the DSS know, that they recommended. And it is equally what the National Assembly saw that they recommended”, he said.
Continuing, Gadgi noted that “If you want to hold DSS and National Assembly responsible, what of you as an individual. Over 180 million Nigerians, were unable to know. The announcement was made, the man was presented to the floor of the senate. He was screened and no individual out of over 180 million Nigerians was able to remember that comment made by him, to write a petition to the the National Assembly.
“So if the National Assembly should be held responsible, or the DSS, the people of this country should equally be held responsible, because they were unable to do their job by bringing the information to the National Assembly. Until and unless you bring the petition that this man has done that in the past, because of the incapacity of both DSS and National Assembly to know everything about everybody”
Speaking further, the lawmaker said “If there was an issue prior to the screening and the National Assembly did not act on that information, then you will hold them responsible. But because there was nothing, you assume the man is innocent. Now the issue has come to public glare.
“Is it the responsibility of the National Assembly to act based on the information that is given about the minister? It is not the responsibility of the parliament to say remove the minister or not to remove the minister”.
On the calls for his resignation, Gadgi said “The prerogative of appointment and removal is vested solely on Mr President. So it is left for the executive arm of government. The information has come. I learnt also that the man has apologised. If it is true that the information is there and the man apologised, it is not within my own power as a parliament to say go or not go.