The Senate in Nigeria has confirmed a ministerial nominee, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, without much questioning, after some members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) tried to stop his confirmation.
- Senator Obanikoro was confirmed on Wednesday without questioning, a privilege former Senators enjoy
- APC lawmakers walked out of the floor after a push to stop the confirmation failed.
- They are accusing Senator Obanikoro of being involved in an alleged rigging of Ekiti State governorship election
- Obanikoro has denied the claims
- The Senate aid Obanikoro is still innocent until proven guilty
After their push to stop the confirmation of the former Minister of Defence on Wednesday, the APC Senators walked out of the Senate floor and held a press conference to air their grievance.
The Senate Minority Leader, George Akume, told reporters that the opposition was not in support of the confirmation of Senator Obanikoro.
“We objected the nomination of Senator Obanikoro and yet the Senate President and his colleagues from the PDP decided to take advantage of their numbers to override what was supposed to be basically a very straight forward issue. We wonder whether we want to grow democracy in this country or we want to destroy this democracy.
“I have said his action is a breach. He should have stayed to clear himself. The matter is in court and one of the rules of the Senate is that when a matter is in the court, the Senate cannot deliberate on it,” he said.
The opposition party is alleging that Senator Obanikoro masterminded the rigging of Ekiti State governorship election, saying they have evidence.
Senator Obanikoro has denied the claims.
Senator Chris Ngige, who is also a member of the APC, questioned why the ruling party was in a hurry to bring back Senator Obanikoro, saying he compromised his office.
“One wonders what is the rush in trying to bring back a former minister of defence who has been alleged and clips shown that he compromised his office.
“You oppose card reader, Permanent Voter Cards and everything that will make for a credible election and you want to bring back someone who is alleged to have been tented by all evidence.”
“Innocent Until Proven Guilty”
The spokesman for the Senate, Enyinnaya Abaribe, also addressed reporters to clear the air about the statements of the APC lawmakers.
He said: “Well, what we know as a matter of fact is that there were allegations against Senator Musiliu Obanikoro.
“But in our law and the Constitution of Nigeria, anything that is a mere allegation, that is not in any way a court decision, is nothing but a mere allegation and every citizen of Nigeria is deem to be innocent until proven guilty.
“And even the Senators, who addressed the press conference and spoke about the qualification and non-qualification of Senator Musiliu Obanikoro are enjoying this privilege because some of them have EFCC cases and they are still in the Senate because of this privilege of being innocent until proven guilty,” he explained.
He emphasised that the APC Senators “cannot enjoy that privilege themselves and sit in the Senate and then turn around and say that somebody else cannot enjoy that privilege”.
“And the laws of Nigeria is very clear. You are innocent until you are proven guilty and that is what played out on the floors of the Senate.
“The senate in its wisdom, having known that this is the law of Nigeria and this is the Constitution of Nigeria, and that every Nigerian is entitled to this privilege, went ahead to do what it is supposed by law to do which is confirmation of somebody that is on the floor of the Senate who has not been convicted of anything”.