The Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives has insisted that the motion by the Minority Leader, Hon Ndudi Elumelu, calling for the resignation or dismissal of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, was indeed properly presented on the floor of the House.
The spokesman for the caucus, Hon. Francis Ottah Agbo, said in a statement on Friday that the claim by the chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs/spokesman of the House, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, that the motion was not presented under an appropriate rule is “completely dumb, frivolous and exposes his poor knowledge of legislative procedures.”
He also described the claim as a deliberate scheme to jeopardize Nigeria’s fight against terrorism.
There have been calls for Pantami’s resignation or sack after reports of his alleged support for terrorists came to the fore.
The statement reads: “The motion by the Minority Leader calling for the resignation or sack of the minister by President Muhammadu Buhari was properly presented under the House rules as provided in Order 6: 1, 2 & 3 (Privileges), contrary to claims by Hon. Kalu.
“Order 6:1, 2, 3 clearly and generously provide for full debate on the issue brought pursuant to it.
“For the avoidance of doubt, while sub-Section 2 of the Order 6 provides that ‘whenever a matter of privilege arises, it shall be taken into consideration immediately’, sub-Section 3 is clear in providing that whenever a matter of privilege arises, it shall be disposed of and no other issue shall be considered until the debate on a motion thereon is adjourned…’.
The caucus said it found it shocking that instead of standing with Nigerians on this matter, Hon. Kalu chose to engage in personal attack on the Minority Leader for drawing attention to the dangers of retaining Pantami in office, especially after the minister himself had admitted to the facts of his sympathy for violent, extremist and terrorist groups, including al-Qaida and the Taliban.
“Furthermore, we take a strong exception to Hon. Kalu’s vain posturing of trying to tutor the Minority Leader, a well-respected seasoned legislator, on the House Standing Rules and parliamentary convention!” The caucus said.
It noted further that since the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, had conceded to the appropriateness of the Order under which the Minority Leader presented his motion, and did not rule him out of order, it is completely irresponsible for the spokesperson of the House, who should be abreast of the rules, to have faulted the Minority Leader’s presentation.
It therefore demanded an apology from the Reps spokesman for his unwarranted attack on the Minority Leader, who it said speaking the mind of the silent majority of Nigerians who have no platforms to speak out, and for misrepresenting the rules of the House.
“Our caucus, standing with millions of Nigerians, also demands that the Speaker should immediately act on the prayers of the motion, by conveying same as the position of the House to Mr. President, having accepted the appropriateness of the procedure and taken legislative note of the prayers therein.
“As a caucus, we stand behind the Minority Leader in insisting that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, should resign or be removed by President Muhammadu Buhari, as his continued stay in office poses great threat to our national security.”