By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON, Kaduna.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has described the decision of All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain to step down over allegations of N500, 000 bribes leveled against him to pave way for investigation.
In a statement signed by its Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, MURIC described the move as surprising.
“Dr. Muiz Banire, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and hitherto National Legal Adviser of the All Progressives Congress (APC), offered to step down yesterday pending the outcome of investigations into allegations that he offered N500,000 as bribe to Mr. James Agbadu-Fishim, a judge of the National Industrial Court.
“The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) commends Dr. Banire for making this surprising offer. It is not only altruistic but uncommon and highly exemplary. Nigerian politicians have a lot to learn from Banire’s gesture. We are used to the sit-tight syndrome whereby public office holders ignore public outcry even when all indications point to their guilt,” it stated.
It noted that Banire comes across as the type of politician Nigerians need in this era of change.
“He has offered to step aside even when nothing seems to connect his party to the incident. Against his background as a brilliant lawyer of the Gani Fawehinmi Chambers and school of thought, this offer confirms his reputation in political circles as a radical element and a disciplinarian nulli secundus.
“How many public office holders in Nigeria can do this today? How many have done it before? We cannot remember any; at least not in this country. It is only characteristic of politicians in advanced democracies. This is a commendable precedent and it calls for emulation. Banire is the pride of Nigerian youths and a model earnestly sought after.
MURIC advised the National Chairman of the APC, Chief Odigie Oyegun, to reject Banire’s temporary resignation.
“The rationale for our position is that the incident involved is not in any way connected with the party and Banire himself has given a very logical and satisfactory explanation concerning the circumstances surrounding the transfer of the money.
“When did philanthropy become a crime anywhere in the world? The money was transferred in response to someone in distress who sent a text message. Ethics makes kindness payable in like manner. Nigeria must not criminalize generousity. How else shall we be our brothers’ keepers if we cannot respond to distress calls?
“For the avoidance of doubt, Banire’s antecedent shows his propensity for philanthropy. Scores of indigent students in tertiary institutions enjoy his scholarship scheme. As a prominent Muslim leader, he single-handedly pays the salaries of staff of many Islamic organizations and sponsors many of their programmes. As an agent of change, he has succeeded in persuading many young and wealthy Muslims to support Islamic organizations.
“To cap the edifice, Banire is a highly respected Muslim leader and, in actual fact, the man who is effectively filling the vacuum created by the deaths of M. K. O. Abiola of blessed memory, Alhaji Wahab Folawiyo and Aare Arisekola Alao in Yorubaland today,” it explained.
MURIC added that it gives total support to the fight against corruption and will not protect or fight for corrupt Muslims.
“We believe that any Muslim public officer who steals should be dealt with according to the laws of the land. However, anti-corruption agencies should not allow themselves to be railroaded into embarrassing innocent Nigerians just to prove that they can also go after APC chieftains. We will not stand akimbo while the names of credible Muslim leaders are dragged in the mud,” it concluded.
By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON, Kaduna.