The Nigerian Senate said the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami is qualified to contest for elections in Nigeria despite allegations of terrorism.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Dr. Ajibola Basiru stated this on Sunday while reacting to audio clips of Pantami’s alleged support for terrorism in the past that surfaced on social media recently.
Basiru said the audio would not have stopped Pantami from becoming a minister even if it had surfaced before his screening by the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
Basiru added that no petition had been sent to the Senate, detailing specific allegations against Pantami, since the matter came to the limelight penultimate week.
“To start with, there is nothing that disqualified him from contesting an election based on the constitution of Nigeria,” Bashiru told Sunday Punch.
“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.’’
He further said, “Those who are talking have not pointed to a particular law upon which he ought to be removed as a minister.
“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.”