The National Legal Adviser of the All Progressives Congress, Dr Muiz Banire (SAN), was recently barred from holding public office for ten years by his party. He spoke to Femi Ogbonnikan describing the suspension as an exercise in futility. Excerpts:
There are reports that your ward has suspended you from being a member of the APC. You were also barred from holding any public office for ten years.
In the first instance, I am not aware of any such ban. Should you be referring to the pronouncement of some impostors masquerading as Ward ‘C’ APC leaders? Then, the position of not only the national headquarters of APC but that of the authentic Ward ‘C’ APC leaders as published should convince you that the pronouncement is an exercise in futility. Under APC constitution, there is no such provision enabling such clowns and their scavenging sponsors to suspend anyone. Secondly, by the APC constitution, a national officer once elected at the convention is responsible for 36 states, including the FCT, thereby ceasing immediately to be a local member. Thirdly, assuming without conceding that it is possible at the ward level, it must be the act of authentic ward executives as elected at the party’s congress. Finally, even by the Nigerian constitution, no panel except the court of law can bar anybody from holding public office. All these therefore show the level of ignorance of these characters whose fear of 2019 is beclouding their reasoning.
Will you go to court to challenge the decision?
Why would I go to court against an unrecognised group of charlatans?. I certainly won’t go to court.. APC up till now is not involved as the people involved are strangers to the party. I am still carrying out my work as the National Legal Adviser of the party, un impaired by anyone. The position of the party, including myself is that silence is the best answer for fools. The party, as a whole, either at the national or local level, does not recognise the characters much less their actions. It is a sheer waste of time employed in the hope of distracting us from the challenges of the nation we are trying to solve. Therefore, we will not dignify them with any response.
Has the national body of your party reacted to the purported suspension?
I have said it earlier, it is regarded as an exercise in futility. Totally inconsequential.
Has the suspension affected the discharge of your duty as the National Legal Adviser of the APC?
It has not affected my work as the National Legal Adviser. This further shows the folly in the said purported suspension. You claim to have suspended a person for ten years and he is still carrying on with his work presently. Is that not an absurdity?. Thank God, the rationale behind their rampage is now obvious. It is ‘banirephobia’ against 2019. I wish them luck.
Have you been served with any suspension letter from your ward over?
Well, I have not been served any letter. They can’t serve me any letter because they can’t even process suspension, anyway
So, no disciplinary committee has been set up to look into all the allegations levelled against you?
No! But the question you should even ask yourself in the first place is, who are these people that we are talking about? You can go to Mushin yourself and ask for, who is the ward chairman and that of the executives, ask also for that of the local government, ask for the authentic ones. You can’t by motions and said, you are dissolving any organ of the party. Go and look at the APC constitution. In the first instance, they have no locus at all, to do anything, let alone discipline anybody.
Are you saying that as the National Legal Adviser you can not be suspended at ward level?
You ought to know, if you suspend somebody, it should be from the top. That is why national officers are insulated against units, because they are responsible for 36 states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). So, even if a state does not like you and majority likes you, there is nothing anybody can do. So, you will have to go through the entire states.
What is the mood within your primary constituency, Mushin constituency, now?
Well, let me tell you this. They are very calm people because normally, before now that place used to be violent but through enlightenment and education, I have made them realised, that you don’t gain anything from violence. Democrats don’t even engage in violence. Democrats would make their points, stand by their points and try to convince others. So, they are very calm people.
On account of your closeness to the party’s National Leader, Bola Tinubu, has he intervened in this matter?
I know to the best of my knowledge, that he is not involved in this shenanigan because, I realised the fact, that to even track down Asiwaju now, you will have to struggle. He is here and there, all over the whole place now. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t think he is involved. The thing, I try to do as much as possible is that, let due process always takes place. Don’t treat things as family affairs. And this is what has brought us to where we are today as a country. Do things in accordance with the rule of law. It is simple.
Tinubu, being your benefactor, you ought not be criticising him in the public, even if he has done anything wrong. .
But what has he done, that I have not supported him? I am not aware. What has he done wrong?
That you have been criticising him over imposition of candidates within the party…
How? Where? Is he the one imposing candidates? Because to the best of my knowledge, I have said it consistently, that he is not the culprit. I have said it, consistently.
Who are the culprits?
The state executives of the party. They are responsible for the conduct of the primaries.
So, they are the ones you criticised?
To the best of my knowledge. That is it.
What has the national body done to save the situation from degenerating?
They have not bothered themselves because they know, it is not in accordance with our constitution. And so, if it is a suspension that I am reacting to, I will not feel it. People suspend themselves everyday all over Nigeria, in different chapters, in different organisations but of course, most of them will usually ignore it, particularly when it is not in tune with their constitution, they will ignore it. So, there is no need for them to bother.
So, you are unperturbed?
In fact, let me tell you, I am not bothered because it is not a job that, I am earning salary or allowance for. It is a free job. I am doing it free of charge for them. But they know me very well. That is what they thought, that once they make their noise all over the place, and in a normal sense, I would have resigned by now. But because I know that, that is their intention, that is why I said no, this time around, I would stay put till I finish the tenure.
What exactly is the issue you have with the last council elections in the state?
There was no primary in the state. They were just hand-picking people. That is how much I know. At least, in my own local government (Mushin), I can say this because I was one of the people who ought to have voted.
But it was alleged that you cried foul because your candidates were not favoured in the scheme of things.
Well, I have never had any candidate to start with. Let me tell you, If they want to be truthful to themselves, they should go and find out whether I have ever dabbled into the nomination of anybody, in that local government in the past, not to talk of now. In the last one and a half years, we have never had any candidate but we only have a sole administrator in that council. Even let me say there is a candidate, did I say go and impose a candidate on anybody? I have always been saying, comply with the provisions of the constitution of the party, that is very simple.
Instead of going to court, why did you not draw the attention of the national leader to the malpractice?
What did he say?
Well, he has not responded. He said he would call me back and I have not heard from him.
There was no primary in the state. They were just hand-picking people. At least, in my own local government (Mushin), I can say this because I was one of the people who ought to have voted.