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 APC senators walk out as Senate clears Obanikoro

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PostSubject: APC senators walk out as Senate clears Obanikoro   2015-03-12, 04:37

The Senate on Wednesday
confirmed eight ministerial
nominees, including a former
Minister of State for Defence,
Musiliu Obanikoro.
Seven of the nominees had a
smooth sail during the session but
when it was Obanikoro’s turn, the
All Progressives Congress senators
kicked and cited reasons why he
should not be considered for a
ministerial appointment.
Among their reasons were that the
nominee from Lagos State had
been implicated in “very sensitive
issues that touch on national
interest,” and court cases, including
one by a Peoples Democratic Party
member, Kemi Lawal, which
restrained the Senate from
confirming him.
But Senate President, David Mark,
ruled them out of order and
insisted that he had not been
served any court order restraining
the Senate from confirming
Obanikoro, who is also a former
PDP governorship aspirant for
Lagos State.
The APC senators, who vehemently
raised their opposition to the
confirmation of the former
minister were Bukola Saraki,
Olugbenga Ashafa, Babajide
Omoworare, George Akume,
Olubunmi Adetunmbi, Ali Ndume
and Ganiyu Solomon.
Another APC lawmaker, Mudashiru
Hussain, nearly threw caution to
the wind when he attempted to
rush at a PDP senator, Smart
Adeyemi, for allegedly distrupting
the opposition lawmakers’
arguments on why Obanikoro
should not be cleared.
It took the timely intervention of
some APC senators sitting close to
Hussain to stop him from doing so.
Angered by the fact that Mark ruled
them out of order, all the APC
senators walked out of the
chamber and addressed a news
conference where they expressed
their disappointment at the Senate
leadership’s handling of the issue.
In spite of the walkout by the APC
lawmakers, Mark went ahead to
rule on the voice votes of the PDP
senators for the confirmation of
Obanikoro and the other nominees
as ministers.
The nominees, who received the
special privilege of ‘take a bow’
were Hauwa Lawan, (Jigawa);
Kenneth Kobani (Rivers) and Joel
Ikenya, (Taraba).
The others who were screened
last week but were confirmed on
Wednesday are Patricia Akwashiki
(Nasarawa); Nicholas Ada
(Benue); Augustine Akobundu
(Abia) and Fidelis Nwankwo
At the news conference, the
spokesperson for the APC caucus,
Babafemi Ojudu, said, “We found it
incumbent on us to let Nigerians
know what our opinions are on this
matter but the Senate President
would not listen.”
Also, the leader of the caucus,
George Akume, said it was
regrettable that Senate leadership
which they had in the past
supported, did not respect their
view on the case of Obanikoro.
He said, “The Senate, in its sitting
today(Wednesday), was rancorous
and acrimonious because of one
nominee who has been a senator
before and had also been passed as
a minister and ambassador.
“Senators from Lagos had never
raised objection to his earlier
nomination and confirmation in the
past but something happened after
he became the minister of State for
“He is alleged to have participated
in the massive rigging of the Ekiti
governorship election in June last
“The alleged action, is a breach of
the constitution. In a civilised
world, his name should not have
come up for screening in the first
place. Hence, we are all opposed to
Akume argued that Mark, by his
action, had altered the tradition of
the Senate which states that any
nominee rejected by at least two
senators from his state of origin,
should not be cleared.
He said, “The three senators from
Lagos opposed to the nomination
of Obanikoro but the Senate
President and his PDP colleagues
decided to take the advantage of
their numbers to override what is
supposed to be basically a very
straight forward issue.
“We wonder whether we want to
grow democracy in this country or
whether we want to destroy it.
Rule of the senate forbids it not to
act on any issue in court but the
Senate leadership had ignored this.
“Nigerians are being deceived by
the behaviour of the senate. They
do not want to listen to us and this
is highly unfortunate and we are
very disappointed in the action of
our leadership.”
But the senate leadership, at a
separate news conference by its
spokesperson, Eyinnaya Abaribe,
described the APC senators
allegations against Obanikoro as
He said, “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.
“Everyone in Nigeria is deemed to
be innocent until proven guilty and
even the Senators who addressed
the press conference and spoke
about the qualification or
otherwise of Obanikoro are
enjoying this privilege because
some of them have EFCC cases.
“They are still in the Senate
because of this privilege of being
innocent until proven guilty and so
they cannot go to a press
conference, and try to convict
somebody when the person has
not been convicted by a court of
“They cannot enjoy that privilege
themselves and sit in this senate
and then turn around and now say
that somebody else cannot enjoy
that privilege.
“The laws of Nigeria are very clear;
you are innocent until proven
guilty, so that is what played out on
the floor of the Senate.
“The Senate, having known that
this is the laws of Nigeria, and this
is the constitution of Nigeria that
every Nigerian is entitled to this
privilege, went ahead to do what it
is supposed to by law do which is
somebody that is on the floor of the
Senate who has not been
“Until somebody is convicted by a
court, then his employer will
determine what to do with him;
the Senate is not a court of law.”
Abaribe also argued that the
senators formed a quorum when
the fate of the nominees were
Shortly before the news conference
by the APC caucus, a young man
believed to be the son of
Obanikoro, drew the anger of
Oluremi Tinubu, at the lobby of the
National Assembly.
Tinubu was said to have drawn
people’s attention to what she
called the ‘uncultured’ behaviour
of the young man, who insisted
that he did not utter any word
against her.
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