APC’s Legal Adviser Resigns

By Ikenga Chronicles November 8, 2016

The National Legal Adviser of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and close confidant to President Muhammadu Buhari,Muiz Banire,on Monday, November 8 stepped down pending the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s(EFCC)investigation into his alleged bribery of a judge with N500, 000.

Banire who made his decision known in a letter dated November 8, 2016 and addressed to the APC National Executive Committee(NEC)through the party National Chairman, John-Oyegun and copied to Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, said he chose to step down pending the outcome of the EFCC

Banire’s letter is entitled: “Offer to Step Aside as National Legal Adviser Pending Conclusion of Investigation of My Person by the EFCC”.

It reads: “The allegation, as I have come to understand it, is that a Statement of Account of one judge of the National Industrial Court, the Honorable Justice J. T. Agbadu-Fishim, who is the subject of an ongoing EFCC’s investigation, contained a June 2013 entry of a ‘N500,000.00’ payment ascribed as being from one ‘Dr. Muiz B’.”

“I did not hesitate in confirming that this probably referred to me because I remember that about three years ago, I received a text message from someone I recollected at the time to be an old colleague in my days as a lecturer at the University of Lagos, an ‘Agbadu-Fishim’ who was then a Research Fellow at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, informing me of the death and funeral programme of his mother.”

“The last contact (of any sort) I had with this person before that text would have been about 14 years earlier, that is, before I was appointed Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos State at the inception of civil rule in 1999 (now 17 years ago).”

“Indeed, it was with considerable difficulty that I was able to eventually recognize his face when I eventually saw him again (after 17 years of my leaving the University of Lagos) on my attendance at the EFCC on Thursday the 3rd day of November, 2016.”

“When I received the said message and his information to me of the death and funeral programme of his mother in which he solicited for financial assistance in a tone suggesting great distress, I considered it necessary to assist an old friend in dire need.”

“Without any further prompting, he sent his account details to me and I made a cash gift of N500,000.00 to him,” Banire said.

He said while he personally never appeared before the judge, two cases worth less than N2million in legal fees were handled by lawyers in his chambers.

Banire said: “As I have now come to realise after my interactions with the EFCC, that payment is being investigated from the angle of whether or not it was to influence the receiver in the performance of his judicial duties on the Bench of the National Industrial Court.”

“This is perfectly understandable to me within the general context of the investigation in which the allegation had arisen, and considering that I have lately come to also realise that two of my colleagues in chambers had been involved as defence counsel in two cases before the subject judge amongst 12 cases in all they have ever done at the Industrial Court since inception.”

“My review of the two case files which I came to be conscious of after my interactions with the EFCC shows that one of them was amicably settled between the parties for a sum less than N1.2m, thereby technically losing the case, whilst they won the other and that the combined professional fees (net of taxes) for the two cases was less than N2m.”

“While protesting my innocence, and will therefore do everything within legal limits to defend myself, I have, from the first instance[that I] became aware of the allegation, offered my full cooperation to the EFCC and will continue to cooperate with, and give it all the assistance it may require of me in the course of its on -going investigation into the matter.”

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