by Nnenna Ibeh
The Senate on Wednesday refused to deliberate on the ministerial nomination of the former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro.
The embattled politician and his family were disappointed by lawmakers after the latter failed to call for hearing, his ministerial nomination by President Goodluck Jonathan.
At the National Assembly gallery, Mr. Obanikoro’s family was seen at about 10.20 a.m. leaving the premises looking drawn as they expected the Senate would call up his nomination for deliberation.
Mr. Obanikoro’s nomination is believed to be an appeasement from the president after the failed to secure the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governorship ticket for Lagos State.
He is currently embroiled in the infamous Ekiti rigging audio tape crisis, where he is heard virtually threatening a Brigadier General with promotion. Mr. Obanikoro was then the Minister of State for Defence.
Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES, the Senator representing Ekiti Central constituency of Ekiti State, Babafemi Ojudu, said three All Progressive Congress, APC, senators from Lagos State – Oluremi Tinubu, Gbenga Ashafa and Ganiyu Solomon- filed a petition to the Senate President over Mr. Obanikoro’s involvement in the alleged rigging in Ekiti.
He said this must have contributed to the stalling of the case at the Senate.
“It’s a known fact that senators from your state must approve of your nomination, the reverse is the case with him,” the lawmaker said, adding that two non-governmental organisations petitioned the senate president on the same issue.
The Ekiti audio recording emerged early February highlighting Mr. Obanikoro’s participation alongside Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti; Iyiola Omisore; a man identified as Honourable Abdulkareem, and the Minister for Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan.
The 37-minutes audio recordings and affidavit were provided by Sagir Koli, a Captain in the 32nd Artillery Brigade stationed in Ekiti State. Mr. Koli has since fled the country for fear of retaliation.
Mr. Koli recorded the conversation on June 20, 2014, when he was asked to accompany his Commanding Officer, Brigadier General Aliyu Momoh, to the meeting. The venue was the Spotless Hotel in Ado-Ekiti.
PREMIUM TIMES also learnt that three members of the PDP – Michael Babatunde, Suleiman Saheed and Wasiu Adeniyi –filed a suit against Mr. Obanikoro, in a Lagos High Court, on his eligibility to run for governor of Lagos state.
“When you have such case in the court, it will be wrong for the Senate President to call the case for hearing; that must be the reason the Senate President refused to bring up the matter,” Mr. Ojudu said.
While notable Nigerians like Wole Soyinka and the APC have called for a probe of the Ekiti tape, President Goodluck Jonathan said the inability of Sagir Koli to come forward and authenticate the tape is the reason investigation into the matter cannot proceed.