APC National Legal Adviser, Dr. Muiz Banire, warns against the formation of an interim government and further poll postponement. In the following interview he dismisses rumours that all is not well between More »
A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday sentenced one Umeh Henry to two years imprisonment for being in unlawful possession of cocaine. More »
The Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday dismissed an application by Dana Group of Companies Plc seeking to restrain Sterling Bank Plc from enforcing court orders on the management of the More »
APC National Legal Adviser, Dr. Muiz Banire, warns against the formation of an interim government and further poll postponement. In the following interview he dismisses rumours that all is not well between Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and himself
Is your party disturbed about the insinuation of another likely postponement of the general elections?
Yes, we’re worried as a party. A few days ago, we had a news conference at our national secretariat, Abuja, and our major concern was the qualification in the National Security Adviser’s letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission that says, “At least six weeks.” That suggests that it can be done (possibility of another shift). It means six weeks is the minimum. That is a cause for concern on its own. So, to that extent, we believe that there’s danger ahead and that is why our party believes that we should all come together as a nation to ensure that on March 28, the elections hold. That is our party’s position and no other delay would be entertained.
What is your worst fear if we do not hold the elections on March 28?
My greatest fear is that basically, in the first instance, confusion would continue to reign as it is reigning now. There’s so much confusion now all over. My greatest worry is the economy itself. The economy would continue to regress in view of the uncertainties that are ahead of us. That’s a major concern for me. And once that continues, then we’re all endangered because without the economy, we can’t survive. So, for me, there’s a need for stability in the system and that’s why we must ensure certainly that the elections hold on that day so that we can put it behind us and move the economy forward.
What measure is your party putting in place to forestall a possible shift in date again?
What we’re doing is encouraging Nigerians to put in as much as possible – in terms of cooperation towards ensuring peace and tranquility within the nation. And of course, as much as possible, we’re also encouraging the Nigerian military to work hard to ensure the so-called insurgency in the North-East states is tamed before that day that they have guaranteed themselves. Because we know that Nigerians get easily discouraged and frustrated about things, we have also resolved to continue to galvanise Nigerians towards that day to ensure they don’t get frustrated. Insofar as we have a date ahead of us, we must strive to work towards it and try as much as possible to encourage each other that at the end of the day, there would be light at the end of the tunnel.
There are insinuations that the APC presidential candidate, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) may be disqualified by a law court.
Unfortunately, I would not be able to discuss the issue in detail because it is sub judice. As professionals, we are not meant to do that. But one thing I can tell you is that I have no fear at all. I have looked at all the processes; our legal team is on top of it. I am extremely confident and optimistic that there’s nothing to be scared of in the matter at all.
Is there any perjury in what Buhari sent to INEC considering the fact that the military said it wasn’t so?
Again, the matter is sub judice, but factually, from what I know from my privileged position, there’s no case of perjury involved.
Is your party not worried about the popularity of PDP’s governorship candidate, Jimi Agbaje?
Well, I have yet to read the result of your own poll. Maybe by the time I see the result, I would be able to talk about it because to the best of my knowledge, honestly, I am optimistic about the success of the party in Lagos.
You don’t seem to want an actualisation of your party’s slogan, “Change,” in Lagos State.
Change is not about changing all governments. Where governments are doing well, there’s no need to change them.
You’re for selective change?
I am for meritorious change. Meritorious change because in Lagos, for example, what you want to look out for is the track record, and that’s what we’re selling. For me, honestly speaking, it’s not about sentiment, it’s about votes. It’s about conviction. That’s why I said that I have not seen the result of any other poll. But if you ask me, I would tell you that those people that we interact with, their support is totally for us.
The Ambode-Agbaje race is expected to be a close call. Do you agree?
I do not really. I do not. Lagos will be very easy for us to win.
You were reportedly barred from entering the Ikoyi residence of your party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as a result of your fallout with the party’s leadership over the Lagos State governorship primary of the APC.
Well, when you read stories online, with due respect to those in the social media, you have to be extremely wary particularly when it is not traceable to any credible human being. When that is the case, to me, it’s worthless information. I have consistently been saying it that disagreement does not necessarily mean you’re fighting with anybody. You must constantly disagree in life in order to move the society forward in a positive manner. Even father and child do disagree from time to time let alone master-servant. It’s a principle issue and it’s a systemic disagreement, if I can put it that way.
As I keep telling a lot of people, I have no problem with anybody personally. I had a problem with the system then and my concern was voiced out and it was addressed subsequently. And I believe, honestly speaking, I may be wrong, and that’s what even ultimately confers legitimacy or credibility substantially on our party today. I tell you from my vantage position that today, we have fewer pre-election matters than the PDP. In fact, the pre-election matters the PDP is having today is almost five times the number that we’re facing because we tried as much as possible to comply substantially with the rules of internal democracy in our party.
For me, it’s a thing of joy that that happened. So, I have no problem with anybody. I don’t know, maybe the encounter they say I had in Ikoyi may have been in Bourdillon. If they’re talking about that, of course, I had lunch there. I was even in company with Ogbeni (Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola). Lagos State governorship candidate, Akinwunmi Ambode, was also there. In fact, we all left the stadium together during our national rally. We were there together. We even met Mr. (Dele) Alake and some other people there. We enjoyed ourselves and after about two to three hours, we departed the place. So, I do not know where they got the issue of the encounter they are talking about. But as you know, people are always good at gossiping. When I read it, I just laughed it off. My natural response is usually to ignore such things, but what I did this time was to pray for those behind it. And my prayer was to the effect that whoever must have put that there must continuously enjoy the same reward at every step of his life including his generation yet unborn. That was my supplication for the author, because for me, it was wicked and malicious. Nothing like that even happened. Secondly, it’s an implied denigration of the man himself, which is not right because he didn’t do it. So, why do you want to vilify him in such a manner? So, it’s not correct. It’s not, at all.
But it is said that there is an element of truth in every rumour.
You see, they’re taking this from the issue of primary or no primary. And for me, honestly speaking, a lot of people don’t even know that it’s a relationship premised on opportunism or materialism that usually degenerates to that level of confrontation. But like I said, it was a systemic disagreement and not for once did I not interact with the leadership of the party. I see them, we talk, we interact. And the same privilege I still enjoy anywhere I go including at Asiwaju’s (Bola Tinubu) house. So, that must be the genesis.
What effect would the Ekiti election video making the round on social media have on your party’s appeal?
It has no bearing at that level. We’ve done the trial. What is usually appealed against is the issue relating to judgment of the lower tribunal or court and that’s what is presently before the Court of Appeal. Except leave is sought where necessary, that’s where you can adduce additional evidence.
Will your party seek leave to tender the recording as evidence?
We would explore it if necessary.
But in this age of technology manipulation, how much of the content of that do you believe?
I am not an IT expert, but given what we have listened to and corroborated by the man who leaked it, the tendency is for me, barring the fact that I am a professional, to believe it.
An Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Banjo, does not believe that the leadership of your party is leading the Yoruba in the right direction by aligning with the North in the quest to take power. Adebanjo said the Yoruba never had a history of beneficial relationship with the Hausa/Fulani.
Well, maybe this would mark the first time that we would derive a benefit. Something probably could have been going wrong in the past and at a point, it assumes a new life. So, this could be the starting point of a new thing. Secondly, I don’t think this is a matter of regionalism, ethnicity or religion. It’s a matter simply of good governance. Until we are able, in my very strong view, to overcome those primordial factors as religion, ethnicity and all such useless issues, we would continue to have problems as a nation. For instance, look at ordinary football, we have to apply quota system. What does it matter if all the players come from the same village and Nigeria continues to excel? What is the problem in that? But they would say, no, all of them cannot come from the South or all of them cannot come from the North. Is that what would give you victory? The same thing applies to education. The same thing happens in virtually all strata of our national life. Even in our constitution, they went to insert it. Honestly, I don’t believe in that at all. If it is in a particular family that you can get the people who can turn around the whole system for the better, I have no problem against it.
Those who share this pessimism spoke from the hindsight of history. And people should learn from history.
No, we may not totally depart from it, but it must not be the entirety of what we consider in making a decision. It may be a guiding factor, but not the exhaustive factor. When you look at what has happened in the past, all that it tells you is to be vigilant in what you do. But that does not say that you must just jettison the entire arrangement to the detriment of not only the race, but also even the nation as a whole.
Do you see the speculated removal of INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega before June 30? Also, how would the APC react to the plot to enthrone an interim government?
We have consistently rejected the interim arrangement and we’re still rejecting it. We’re not at all receptive to it. On the rumoured plot of removal, legally, it’s impossible to ask Jega to resign or remove him before the expiration of his tenure. He’s not a civil servant and, therefore, cannot be subjected to civil service rules. So, I do not see that happening at all
A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday sentenced one Umeh Henry to two years imprisonment for being in unlawful possession of cocaine.
The Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday dismissed an application by Dana Group of Companies Plc seeking to restrain Sterling Bank Plc from enforcing court orders on the management of the company’s assets.
THE Lagos State governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN, yesterday, accused Jaykay Pharmacy, owned and managed by the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr. Jimi Agbaje of owing the state N1.6 million as unpaid land use charges.
A Federal High Court in Lagos has sentenced a 29-year-old drug dealer, Abiodun Elemoro, to life imprisonment.