The Nigerian Senate has defended its decision Wednesday, to confirm President Goodluck Jonathan’s nomination of Musiliu Obanikoro for a ministerial appointment despite the latter’s alleged involvement in the Ekiti governorship election rigging saga.
The All Progressives Congress senators, who staged a walk-out following the majority voice votes that allowed Obanikoro to ‘take a bow’, a privilege reserved for former lawmakers, accused the Senate President, David Mark, of setting a dangerous precedence by ignoring the opposition to Obanikoro’s nomination by all the senators from his state – Lagos.
But the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Enyinnaya Abaribe, dismissed Obanikoro’s involvement in the Ekitigate scandal, saying they were mere allegations that were yet to be proven.
“There are allegations against Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, but in our law and the constitution of Nigeria, anything that is a mere allegation that is not a court decision is nothing but a mere allegation.
“The laws of Nigeria is very clear; you are innocent until proven guilty, so that is what played out on the floor of the Senate.
“The Senators, who addressed the press conference and spoke otherwise of Senator Obanikoro, are enjoying a privilege.
“This is because some of them have EFCC cases, and they are still in the senate because of this privilege of being innocent until proven guilty. So they cannot go to a press conference, and try to convict somebody when the person has not been convicted by a court of law.
“The Senate is not a court of law and even when the Senate conducts its own investigation, it passes it to the appropriate body for prosecution”, the senate spokesman explained.
Responding to the action of the APC senators, who staged a walk-out, Abaribe said, “If within the time of any day’s business a Senator decides that he has some other place to go, we cannot stop them”.