The Senate on Monday cleared 45 out of the 48 ministerial nominees sent to it by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Those whose names were not mentioned were former Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai; former Deputy Governor in Taraba State, Abubakar Danladi and Stella Okotete from Delta State.
No reason was given by President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio for stepping down the clearance of the nominees who appeared before the Red Chamber.
Shortly after reading out the names of the 43 nominees that were cleared, Senator Akpabio said,” For the avoidance of doubt, we have confirmed 45 out of 48 sent to us by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The others are still awaiting clearance.”
Nigerian Tribune checks revealed that a Senator representing Kogi West Sunday Karimi presented a petition before the Senate during the screening of Mallam Nasir El -Rufai which he noted bothered national security and national unity.
While responding to the petition, President of the Senate who said El- Rufai should not respond to the petition however said:” This is not the place to consider petitions, we will sit with the petitions later and refer them to relevant authorities. “Please, take a bow, my brother.”
Further investigation revealed that the nominee from Taraba was indicted by a judgment of the Supreme Court which barred him from holding public office for ten years.
Senator Danladi however told the lawmakers that no such pronouncement ever emanated from the apex court.
He said: “The Federal High Court, Jalingo, as at the time I contested for the governorship election, said that because of my age on my certificate, the judge gave a judgement against me.
“I now took the matter up to the Appeal Court. When we were in the Appeal court, they just struck out the case.
“The same thing, Justice (Mary) Odili said that the Federal High Court Jalingo was wrong to have decided the judgement in that way because when I was Deputy Governor in 2007, then the judgement on that, the same Federal High Court Jalingo used their veto power at that time to rule against me.
“So, from Supreme Court, I had to go back to the Federal High Court Jalingo because the Supreme Court said there was no basis for the Federal High Court Jalingo to do that judgement.
“Then the same jurisdiction of Federal High Court Jalingo and now sat on the same judgement and set aside that judgement that was hanging on me.”
The Senate President Godswill Akpabio who interjected the nominees during screening last week said “The Federal High Court Jalingo gave a judgement against you that you were not qualified to contest on the basis of perjury that you lied on oath, in respect of your date of birth then later, that same Federal High Court sat on the same matter and cleared you?
“What we are saying is that the moment the Federal High Court gave the first judgement, the Federal High Court has become ‘Functus Officio’ in law and can no longer sit as an appellate court over the same judgement.
“So, you will definitely send what you need to send and we will study them because it is in the interest of Nigeria and it’s in the public interest.”
Senator Danladi however told the Senate that he is presently at the apex Court and that the Supreme Court is yet to give a judgement on the matter.
It could not be confirmed why Stella Okotete was not cleared as there was no petition or strong observations raised against her nomination on the floor of the Senate.
One nominee who got a reprieve from the Senate was the nominee from Ondo State,
Bunmi Tunji-Ojo, a serving member of the National Assembly.
Checks revealed that he was alleged to have forged his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate.
Senators who spoke with Nigerian Tribune however described Tunji-Ojo as one of the young technocrats to join the National Executive Council of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Investigation revealed that Honourable Tunji-Ojo, Chaired the House Committee on the federal government intervention agency, the Niger Delta Development Commission, where he chaired the probe that instigated the reforms in the Commission.
“He is a brilliant mind who has consulted widely in the private sector for notable organisations such as the NNPC, PTDF, World Bank, NCDMB among others.
“He was also the Deputy Director of Policy Research and Strategy Directorate of the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council,” a senator told newsmen.
“Asked to speak on the controversy surrounding the nominee, the ranking senator who pleaded not to be named dismissed media reports against Tunji-Ojo, as a mere witch-hunt.
“According to the senator, “Tunji-Ojo went through the whole process of screening by the Department of State Services (DSS), the Economic ad Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), before coming to the Senate, and they didn’t find anything on towards about him, adding that the “young man is one brilliant Nigerian that should be supported and given the chance to serve his people in this new capacity.”