By Adeola Oladele, Ibadan
All Progressives Congress (APC) National Legal Adviser, Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN), has said the governing party would ensure the rule of law prevail in the ongoing trial of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
He disclosed this on Monday in Ibadan during an interview with newsmen after he presented two bills – Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill and Whistle-blower Bill- to the Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Hon. Michael Adeyemo.
Banire, who is also the convener of UAC and former Commissioner for Environment in Lagos State, stated that the party would not influence the decision of CCT over Saraki or any other court in favour of anybody, adding that people should also know that Saraki is presumed innocent until proven otherwise by a competent court.
According to him: “The strict position of APC is that the rule of law must prevail at all times, regardless of whose ox is gored. People expected APC, for instance, to influence the decision of the court on the governorship elections in Rivers State, Akwa Ibom State and other states. But we said all those days are gone. Whatever the courts deem fit to decide, let them decide.”
“We are not going to influence anything because we are a government of change. If you want to effect changes, all those little things matter a lot.”
The legal luminary, however, described as a question of morality the call by some Nigerians that Saraki should step down like the Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, amid mounting protests and calls for his resignation after leaked documents from a Panamanian law firm revealed his links to an offshore company.
“The issue of stepping down is a question of morality; it is not known to the law. By the constitution, the man is presumed innocent until finally convicted by a competent court. Pending that time, you can’t do anything about him. In terms of morality, of course, you can say he should step aside. It depends on the school of thought and which side of the divide you are.”
Speaking on the bills, Banire disclosed that a federal legislation does not have a nationwide application because it is in the Residual List of the constitution, not an item under the Exclusive Legislative List or Concurrent List.
The bills, sponsored by the United Action for Change (UAC), seeks domestication of the FoI Act in Oyo State because challenges have been identified in the operation of the Act as it exists at the federal level. The bills proposed for the state have taken care of the defects identified in the federal law.
Meanwhile, Adeyemo, who received the two bills on behalf of the lawmakers at their caucus meeting, promised that the Assembly would give the bills the right of passage, adding that the state needed the laws to expose corruption, and protect whistle-blowers.
He then noted that if the Assembly passed the two bills into law, signing of the bills into law and its full implementation are the prerogatives of the Executive arm of government.