Law News
Petition: Senate delays Obanikoro, other ministerial nominees’ screening

The Senate on Wednesday shifted the screening and confirmation of eight ministerial nominees till next Tuesday.

The postponement was announced two hours after all the ministerial nominees, including Senators Musiliu Obanikoro, Patricia Akwashiki and Joel Danlami Ikenya, were already in the Senate wing of the National Assembly premises awaiting their invitation to the chamber.

Obanikoro told our correspondent after the announcement that the postponement was due to the debate on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper already slated in the order paper.

He said all the nominees would appear before the Senate next week as rescheduled.

However, the spokesperson for the opposition All Progressives Congress Caucus, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, said there were two petitions against Obanikoro’s nomination.

The petitions, according to him, had been forwarded to Senate President David Mark.

The petition dated Thursday, February 12, which was submitted through Ojudu and Senator Gbenga Ashafa highlighted Obanikoro’s alleged role in the August 2014 Ekiti governorship poll.

It also detailed the use of armed soldiers to stop the Ilubirin Housing Project in Lagos.

Ojudu also said that since there was a suit against Obanikoro in a Lagos court, it would be prejudicial for the Senate to screen and confirm him alongside other ministerial nominees.

He said, “There is a court case against Obanikoro in a court in Lagos and that case is coming up for hearing on March 6. Should the Senate go ahead to screen Obanikoro next Tuesday, it means the Senate has prejudiced the case.

“That would be illegal because the tradition and the rule is that if there is a case before the court, the matter should not be entertained.

“This case is already before the judiciary and it has to be with whether he’s a fit and proper person, and whether he is qualified to hold public office.

“Even the case of whether he has dual citizenship is not for the Senate to determine. Besides, this case is not even about that. Whatever the matter is, there is a subsisting case against Obanikoro before the court.

“There is a case before the law court; until that case is dispensed with, nothing can be done in the Senate.”

Asked what would happen if the Senate goes ahead to screen and confirm Obanikoro, Ojudu said, “that would be contempt of court”

He said, “What I like about the Senate President is that over time, he has been just and fair and we believe that when this comes to his notice too, he would be just and fair. I believe the Senate President would not want to do anything against the judiciary.”

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