Questions have continued to come after the inability of the Senate to screen the former governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as a nominee for ministerial appointment.
The senate on Wednesday deferred the screening of the nominee from Rivers State as a result of the petition against his nomination which accused him of embezzling funds of the state while serving as governor.
Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions committee of the Senate which met over the petition has not presented its report. It was learnt that the committee could not delve into the merits of the petition as they were told that the matter is in court and so cannot be discussed in details.
But the question now is, Can the Senate go ahead and screen Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi without exhausting the allegation of criminality?
How will it be seen that the Senate cleared someone who may be jailed in the next few months
Will the Senate err if it indefinitely suspends the screening of the nominee until the matter before the court is determined?
Legal practitioner, Liborous Oshoma told HOMELAND NEWS that if it were to be in other more civilised climes where probity, dignity and rule of law are held in high esteem, the senate will not have any other option.
“Once there are allegations of questionable character, particularly where embezzlement is in the center of the allegation, no one will want to touch such a person with a long pole until such individual gets his name cleared. But that does not happen in Nigeria,” he said.
But on the other hand, won’t it amount to pronouncing one guilty before trial if one is denied the honour of serving as minister as a result of mere allegation?
Up till this moment, the issues raised by the Senators from Rivers State are mere allegations until a pronouncement of a court is made on the matter.
Rivers State government has produced a white paper which adopted the whole recommendations of the panel of inquiry it set to hear allegations of corruption and embezzlement leveled against the Amaechi led administration.
The chief of the points is that the former governor should be prosecuted along with all those found culpable in the alleged mismanagement of state funds.
Another legal practitioner, Monday Ubani told HOMELAND NEWS that the findings of a panel of enquiry or a white paper by a state government cannot graduate to become a pronouncement of a court.
He reasoned that all the allegations against the former governor are criminal and so must be proven beyond every reasonable doubt before a competent court of law. As a result of this, according to Mr. Ubani, the Senate cannot rely on such grounds to deny Mr. Rotimi Amaechi the privilege of being made a minister.
“I must add also that the Senate cannot pretend to be unaware of the entire political drama that led to the setting up of the panel and the rush in which the proceedings were carried out. The Senate should not allow itself to be used in pursuing a political goal,” Mr. Ubani said.
Mr. Chibuike Amaechi’s fate will remain on the balance until the public petitions committee of the Senate issues him a clean bill of health to be presented for screening. But that may not be the end of the hurdle as at least two senators from his state are expected to endorse his confirmation in line with the resolution of the senate.
What seems glaring with the goings-on so far is that the greatest sin of the man in the eye of the storm is daring to have a mind of his own when sectionalism in politics was more acceptable. He departed from the path of “this is our turn” politics and is now confronted with the challenge of remaining politically relevant in a state he served as Speaker of the House of Assembly for 8 years and Governor for another 8 year. Can he defeat the odds this time?