A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and human rights activist, Mr. Mike Ozekhome, has backed the Senate in its approval of a former governorship aspirant in Lagos State, Mr. Musiliu Obanikoro, as a minister.
There had been a mild drama in the upper house, on Wednesday, with senators of the All Progressives Congress walking out of the chamber and another almost attacking a colleague of the opposition, in protest of Obanikoro’s recommendation.
The senators cited Obanikoro’s implication in “very sensitive issues that touch on national interest,” and court cases, among their reasons for opposing his nomination.
But Ozekhome, in an interview with SUNDAY PUNCH, said there was no reason to refuse the one time Lagos State governorship candidate such an appointment based on allegations that had not been proven in court.
He said, “Our system of justice ceased to be accusatorial and it has become inquisitorial. Until our system of justice goes according to the recommendation of the National Conference last year, which states that it is a person rather than the state that will prove his innocence, our criminal system of justice will continue to recognise that one is deemed innocent until proven guilty.
“Obanikoro was accused of being one of those whose voices were on a tape in connection with an alleged rigging of elections in Ekiti State. Not only did he deny it, he went to court. He is in court because he wants to prove that he did not do it. Even if Obanikoro has a criminal case against him, he has not been convicted by a court of law. Should that stigmatise him to prevent him from enjoying anything?