By Emeka Okafor
Amid calls by Nigerians demanding the resignation or sack of the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, over his alleged past support for terrorist groups, the Nigerian Senate has come in defense of the embattled minister.
The Senate stated that despite the allegations against the minister, there were no facts of any wrongdoing that should warrant the resignation or his sack by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The nation’s apex lawmaking body stated this through the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Dr. Ajibola Basiru, according to a report by Sunday PUNCH.
Basiru said no one has petitioned the embattled minister before the National Assembly over the allegations being leveled against him.
He said Pantami would have still be cleared by the Senate if the allegations had been brought against the minister before his screening by the red chamber.
Pantami has been in the news since the audio clips of his alleged support for terrorism in the past surfaced on social media recently.
The Senate committee chairman of Media and Public Affairs who agreed that he had read about the allegations against the minister declared that Pantami has not done anything against the nation’s constitution for him to be removed.
Basiru said, “Those who are talking have not pointed to a particular law upon which he ought to be removed as a minister.”
According to the lawmaker, “To start with, there is nothing that disqualified him from contesting an election based on the constitution of Nigeria.
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“The Senate can only act based on the information at its disposal as of the time of the screening. We have not acted in any way against the law. No security agency approached us to give us any information that could indict him, both at the time of his appointment and even now.
“The Senate does not have the power to remove a minister. We can only screen, based on the information available to us and based on the report that we have from the security agencies.
“There is no way we could act based on social media reports. It is only the President who could decide to appoint and remove ministers. As far as we are concerned, we only hear people talk about the issue we don’t have any fact about the so-called allegation. We don’t have any fact; we did our job based on facts available to us.’’
Responding to question if the lawmaker would have stopped his confirmed based on the current allegation, he said, “Even if the information about him now, assuming it was available then (during screening), does it constitute a disqualifying factor of being a Minister under the Nigerian law?”
He also dismissed the call on Buhari to sack Pantami based on moral grounds saying that controversy was a normal thing in politics.
He said, “All over the World, controversy is part of political existence. There is a difference between legality and political consideration which is not in the purview of the National Assembly.
“He was screened publicly and there was no objection. The exercise was aired live on the national television stations. The Constitution stipulates requirements to be a Minister and he hasn’t run foul of any as far as we are concerned.”