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Audio recordings of Pantami allegedly supporting extremism in the past have reportedly appeared on social media.
Many concerned Nigerians and religious organisations have called for his immediate removal from President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet.
However, Dr. Ajibola Basiru, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, told Sunday PUNCH that the upper chamber should not be blamed for approving Pantami’s nomination.
He mentioned that, aside from the fact that no petition was sent against the troubled minister, there was no intelligence report that indicted him at the time of his screening.
Basiru also mentioned that no petition outlining concrete charges against Pantami had been submitted to the Senate after the matter first came to light last week.
Nonetheless, he claimed that the present uproar surrounding the minister would not constitute grounds for his dismissal, which only Buhari has the authority to do.
Basiru said, “To start with, there is nothing that disqualified him from contesting an election based on the constitution of Nigeria.
“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?”