The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has commended Dr Muiz Banire, a senior lawyer, for offering to step down pending the outcome of investigations into allegations of bribing a judge levelled against him.
Prof. Ishaq Akintola, Director, MURIC, in a statement on Tuesday urged politicians in the nation to emulate Banire’s example, which it said was a rare display of honesty.
Banire offered to step down on Monday over allegations that he offered N500,000 bribe to Mr James Agbadu-Fishim, a judge of the National Industrial Court.
Akintola advised the All Progressives Congress (APC) to reject Banire’s temporary resignation as its National Legal Adviser because the alleged N500,000 was a philanthropic gesture that could not be criminalised.
“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,’’ he said.
He said that Banire was that type of lawyer the nation needed 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 advises 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?’’ he asked.
He explained that the money in question was transferred in response to someone in distress who sent a text message.
“Ethics makes kindness payable in like manner. Nigeria must not criminalise generosity.
“How else shall we be our brothers’ keepers if we cannot respond to distress calls?’’ he queried.
Akintola said that the lawyer had a record of giving to the needed, religious organisations, scholarship to students in tertiary institutions and other segments of society.
“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 MKO Abiola of blessed memory, Alhaji Wahab Folawiyo and Aare Arisekola Alao in Yorubaland today,’’ he said.
He added that MURIC was in support of the fight against corruption in the nation and would not shield anyone.
`MURIC gives total support to the fight against corruption and we do 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,’’ Akintola said.