Yusuf Gagdi, a member of the House of Representatives, has said the Department of State Services (DSS) did not inform the National Assembly of the previous extremist comments of Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.
Gagdi, a member representing Pankshin, Kanke and Kanam Federal Constituency in Plateau State,said this in an interview on Monday.
Pantami has been subject to intense criticism in recent days after his previous videos and audios of his sermons surfaced on social media, suggesting that he tacitly supported the activities of terrorist groups, including Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
He, however, renounced his previous comments last Saturday, saying that he made some of the statements when he started his preaching at a young age based on his understanding of religious issues and that his views have now changed having got more enlightened over the years.
But the renunciation did not spare the minister from a deluge of criticisms, with some Nigerians calling on him to either resign or be sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari.
But Gagdi, who is the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Navy, said he was among those who screened Pantami in 2019, noting that information on Pantami’s past was not communicated to the House contrary to a claim by a former Assistant Director with the DSS, Dennis Amachree, that the secret police screened Pantami before his confirmation as minister in 2019 and made its findings known to the relevant bodies.
The lawmaker stated that if the information was presented to the House before the screening, it may not likely have confirmed Pantami’s appointment as a minister.
“I don’t think it is true that there was in that report regarding Pantami to the National Assembly, quote me anywhere,” Gagdi said on TVC’s breakfast show, Your View.
“What is clear which I stand by is that this pressure which some Nigerians who are privileged to know the commitment and disposition of Pantami when he was 34, why didn’t they bring it up to the attention of the National Assembly during the screening of the ministerial nominees?
“These Nigerians that have access to this very important information, what stopped them from hitting the media with it at the time the screening exercise was being conducted? That was the time the National Assembly had the power to reject nominations of the President or to confirm nominations. If the information had gone out and the National Assembly had gone ahead to confirm Pantami, then I will accept responsibility that the National Assembly had done extremely bad.”
He added that the issue of Pantami’s view should not discreit Nigeria’s democracy, adding that it is only President Buhari who has the prerogative to dismiss the minister from his position.
“I think this issue of Pantami should not disqualify our democracy.
“He (the President) has the right to either give the man (Pantami) a prerogative of mercy or to sack the man. That is his own power just as President (Donald) Trump before the end of his tenure decided to forgive criminals in the United States which was unacceptable to some democrats. It is the same democracy that we practice in Nigeria,” the lawmaker said.