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House of reps in disarray over calls for Pantami’s sack

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The call for the resig­nation or sack of the Minister for Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, is tearing the House of Rep­resentatives apart following reaction by the leadership that the Minority leader, Hon. Ndu­di Elumelu, who made the call should come by way of a proper motion before the House.

The House Spokesman, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, on Thurs­day night, reacted to trending reports in the media suggesting that the House Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila had shut down Elumelu’s motion seeking the resignation of the minister.

He said the matter brought by the Minority leader was on the basis of his personal privilege as a member and not a formal motion.

But in a strongly worded reaction issued by Hon. Fran­cis Ottah Agbo, on behalf of the Minority caucus on Fri­day, stated that the opposition leader brought a proper mo­tion before the House, and that the House Spokesman, Kalu, should apologise for issuing a “reckless statement “.

“Attention of the Minority Caucus in the House of Repre­sentatives has been drawn to a statement by the Chairman of House Committee on Media and Public Affairs/ Spokesman of the House, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, which clearly exposed a sinister intention to misrep­resent the rules of the House, mislead the undiscerning pub­lic and frustrate genuine effort in the fight against terrorism in our country!

“We find it shocking that instead of standing with Nige­rians at this critical moment, Hon. Kalu chose to engage in a personal attack on the Minori­ty Leader, Hon Ndudi Elumelu, for pointing to the dangers of retaining in office, the Minis­ter of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, after reports of the minister’s support for terrorists came to the fore.

“This is especially after the minister himself admitted to the facts of his sympathy for violent, extremist and terrorist groups, including, the al-Qaida and Taliban.

“Indeed, Hon. Kalu’s claim that our Minority Leader did not properly present his mo­tion, under an appropriate rule is completely dumb, friv­olous and exposes his poor knowledge of the legislative procedures.

“It also points to a deliberate scheme to jeopardise our na­tion’s fight against terrorism,” Agbo said.

Venting further, he said: “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.

“It is instructive to state that 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….”.

“Moreover, it is clear that the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbaja­biamila, conceded to the appro­priateness of the Order, under which the Minority Leader pre­sented his motion, and for that, did not rule him out of order, regarding the presentation of the motion and its consequen­tial prayers.

“Furthermore, the Hon. Speaker, in accepting the mo­tion, announced that the issues raised have been noted.

“It is therefore completely irresponsible for anybody, let alone the spokesperson of the House, who should be abreast of the Rules, to state that the Minority Leader ought to have known better than coming un­der Order 6.

“His statement is therefore in bad faith and should be disre­garded and withdrawn by him immediately.

“Our Caucus will not con­done any unwarranted attack on any of our colleagues, let alone the Minority Leader, who is doing very well by speaking the mind of the silent majority of Nigerians, who have no plat­forms to speak out.

“In any case, we are aware that Hon. Kalu was not in Ple­nary when the motion was moved. We expected him to have consulted the Rule book before attacking the Minority Leader. For we believe if he had done that, he would have saved the 9th House of Representa­tives the embarrassment his statement has caused!

“We, therefore, demand that Hon. Kalu should withdraw his statement and tender an unreserved apology to the Mi­nority Leader and Nigerians 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.

“Insecurity is blind to creed and party colourations and this underscores why the Caucus will resist any attempt by any­one to politicise a clear existen­tial threat to our motherland,” the statement added.