The National Legal Adviser of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Muiz Banire, on Monday shunned the invitation of a disciplinary committee set up by his ward’s leadership of the party.
The Ward C of the APC in Mushin Local Government Area had set up the committee to look into allegations of anti-party activities and misappropriation of campaign materials and logistics levelled against Mr. Banire.
The Committee had summoned Mr. Banire to appear before it by 10 a.m. at Bishop Aggey Memorial School, Ilasamaja, Mushin to defend the allegations contained in a petition written by two members of the party in the area, Tunde Olukayode and Ayodeji Adebayo.
Last week Friday, Mr. Banire, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said the summon was “another wasteful exercise” and he would not dignify the panel with his presence.
After waiting till 11.30 a.m. and there was no sight of Mr. Banire, the panel began sitting with Bolaji Abass, the committee chairman, introducing the other members who included Laide Badru (Secretary), Wunmi Bewaji (General Counsel), and Muinat Mustapha (member).
Mr. Abass said the function of the committee was to examine the allegations against Mr. Banire by some members of the party, just as he assured that they would be fair in arriving at a decision which would then be submitted to the Ward Executive of the party for onward delivery to the Local Government and then the State Executive of APC.
After Mr. Badru called the petitioners and respondent and only the former was in attendance, he displayed copies of advertorials in two national dailies and evidence of receipt of courier letter inviting Mr. Banire for the sitting.
In his testimony, Mr. Adebayo, one of the petitioners, said the party’s national legal adviser had committed acts of indiscipline against the APC, adding that it was such actions that cost the Peoples’ Democratic Party to lose the 2015 election in the area.
“Party discipline and party loyalty made APC what it is today,” Mr. Adebayo said.
“Whatever the decision of the party is, it is binding on all members and if a member goes against the party, there must be sanction.”
In the petition, the petitioners are asking that Mr. Banire be suspended from the party and barred from holding any party office as well as contesting office on the platform of the party for a period of 10 years.
They alleged that aside the fact that Mr. Banire had been continuously absent from ward meetings for more than two years, contrary to Article 9 (2) (iii) of the party’s Constitution, he has also been engaging in unrestrained media campaigns against the party, its organs, leaders and functionaries, a development they said was deliberately calculated to embarrass the party and bring it into disrepute, contrary to Article 9 (2) (I) of the party’s constitution.
The petition reads in part: “That the member (Banire) has openly been encouraging and inciting Court actions against the party, its organs and functionaries when internal dispute resolution mechanisms have not been explored or exhausted contrary to Article 21 (A) (ii) of the Constitution.
“The member (Banire) has been conducting himself in such a way and manner as to constitute a distraction to the good policies and programmes of the Government of President Muhammadu contrary to Article 21 (A) (ii) of the Constitution.
“That the member (Banire) collected campaign “materials and logistics” – for the 2015 general elections and the recent Local Government Elections without deploying, disbursing or applying same for the benefit of the party. He has failed to pay, as at when due or howsoever, party dues and levies.
“That the member (Banire) has been conducting himself and continues to conduct himself in such a way and manner as could jeopardize, endanger or damage the electoral fortunes of the party and the party brand contrary to Article 21 (A) (ii) of the Constitution.”
Last month, scores of APC members from Mushin local government area and Odi Olowo local council development area marched to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s office demanding Mr. Banire’s expulsionfrom the party for anti-party activities.
A few weeks later, the party executives in Ward C announced the suspension of Mr. Banire from the party, a decision that was swiftly overturned by the national executive on the grounds that only the National Executive Committee has the power to suspend a national officer.
Undeterred by the national body’s decision, the state chapter of the party continued its attempt to unseat Mr. Banire, with the Deputy Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Wasiu Eshilokun-Sanni, dragging the lawyer before an Ikeja Division of the Lagos High Court over forgery of his purported withdrawal letter from the 2015 election into Lagos Island Constituency 1 of the House.
Mr. Banire has maintained that the moves to unseat him began after he criticised the practice of imposition of candidates for the local council election by the state chapter of the party.