Office of Attorneys General of Federation should be by election, says Muiz Banire
It will not be out of place to describe him as a silent achiever. With the ability to combine legal practice, politics and academics and still make remarkable impact on each of them, Dr. Muiz Adeyemi Banire merits the success hall of fame.
There is no doubt that Banire has made tremendous mark in his contributions to Nigeria’s legal environment, especially in his areas of core competence. His areas of specialisation include but not limited to land law, Equity and Trusts, Secured Credit Transactions, Planning and Compulsory Acquisitions.
His contribution to the country’s jurisprudence is evidenced in his diverse publications in learned journals and published books as well as teaching experience in the department of Private and Property Law, Univeristy of Lagos since 1991. His scholarly works include Nigerian law of Trusts, Land management in Nigeria: Towards a New Legal Framework; The limit of consent Provisions: A review of Savannah Bank Ltd. V. Ajilo as well as Documentation and Perfection of Security in Nigeria among myriads of others.
Banire also has some unpublished works which are delivered at conferences and seminars. They include Negotiation and Drafting of International Contracts, Corporal Punishment under the ICCPR & The UN Torture Convention: African & Religious Perspectives; Legal Aspects of Trans-border Movements and Implications for Refugees, delivered in commemoration of the World Refugee Day of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, 1996.
How did this legal icon come to study law? Read him: “To a large extent, I will say my studying law was ordained. When I was in Primiary school, you will still see in my book, I always prefix it with ‘Chief Justice Muiz Adeyemi Banire’.
I think it was Fatai Williams that was Chief Justice of Nigeria then. I always love that appellation. “Interestingly, somehow along the line, when I finished my school certificate and passed my exams, there was a minor threat to the ambition, in the sense that I had an uncle of mine who was and is still very influential and based in America.
He is highly successful. He decided to process admission for me at Lioussiana University to go and read Economics. He paid the school fees and the accommodation. “At that point, I consulted our late most senior brother and he was of the view that I should not go for economics. He managed to convince me to drop that offer and go for law. That was how I decided for law.
Even before then, I was offerred Philisophy at the University of Benin after my lower six. I considered it meaningless; I didn’t understand what I would be doing with it really. That was how I find myself in law eventually.” On where he had his pupillage, he said: “I had it with late Gani Fawehinmi during my intership and that impacted on me such that my chambers today are litigation oriented. When we were with Chief, we hardly do incorporation or perfection of documents and things like that.
So up till today, I find it difficult to go to CAC for perfection of documents, except by the grace of my other juniors who at one time or the other gone through that process in other chambers. For me, I am litigation oriented.” He explained that he gained additional practice experience when he served the country at Nigerian Legal Aid Council.
He recalled that the experience was amusing in the sense that he was sent to defend a murder suspect few days after his call to bar. His words: “I was called to the bar, two days after, they sent me to go and defend criminal case.
In fact, I had sleepless nights reading criminal laws. I was not even looking at the proceedural laws. I was busy reading about the theoritical framework of murder. I so much stressed myself. At the end of the day when I got to the court, fortunately or unfortunately, the case was adjourned. The prosecutor was not able to produce his witness, so the case was struck out.
So I became a very happy person without trial. “So that is the type of shock therapy that I got at inception. Thereafter, I did a lot of criminal matters. The chamber I was attached to was equally a land based litigation firm.
The chamber was in Ota then and they were entrenched in land matters. So it is the combination of the two mainly that we were running for the first years of my practice as a Corper. From there, the man found me worthy to be an associate of the chamber. After sometime, I have to set up my own and since them, we are running.” On those who inpsired him as a young lawyers, he said Chief Fawehinmi was mainly the greatest influence, adding that it could be attributed to the first contact he had with him. He also mentioned Professor Jelili Omotola and Seun Akinbiyi. “It was not quite long after that that I did my masters in 1991. I became acquianted with late Prof. Omotola, the then Vice Chancellor at the University of Lagos.
When he became Vice Chancellor, I became more or less his appendage – handling most of his private briefs such as land cases, arbitration and others. I got a lot of inspiration from him also. Most of the administration skills people believe I have, I got from him because he is a man who believes that there is no excuse for failure.” He recalled an interesting case which he handled in the past involving a man who stole a Divisional Police Officer’s goat and jumped bail.
According to him, the attitude of jumping bail before apprehension compounded the case of the accused. But he however, defended the man and mesmerised the presiding magistrate with plethora of foreign authorities to induce his acquittal to his pleasant surprise. On the issue of separating the office of the attorney general from that of the minister of justice, he said it is long overdue. “I am totally in support of it. Not only that, we must also progress to the level of electing the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as it is done in the United States. We must guarantee the autonomy of that office so that the man can take independent decision that is strictly professional.
You can’t be an appointee of somebody, particularly this kind of our environment and try to be independent. It is difficult!” He declared. Speaking on the allegation that the powers of nolle prosequi enshrined in the constitution is being abused by the AGF’s, he said it depends on the character occupying the office.
Banire believes in financial autonomy for the judiciary. According to him, some of the judges find it difficult to write judgments at home due to lack of electric power. He explained that quality of law education is dwindling and blamed it on lack of funds. He stated that the lecturers are not well paid. “Resarch materials are lacking. Even in some schools, lecturers go to seek for internet connectivity of their own in order to do research online.” He advised young lawyers to make sacrifices and assert themselves in the job.
Born on October 6, 1966 in Lagos, Banire attended Lousa Soares Nursery School, Mushin between 1970 and 1972. He later proceeded to St. Jude’s Primary School, Mushin, Lagos between 1972 and 1977 and left with his first school leaving certificate. He later sat for the General Certificate of Education (GCE) in 1983. Prior to that time, he had been at Archbishop Aggey Memorial Secondary School, Mushin, Lagos from 1976 to 1983 and sat for the West African School Certificate (WASC).
Between 1983 and 1984, he went for the Lower six (A level), at the Federal School of Arts and Science, Victorial Island Lagos. Armed with his A level, he sought and gained admission into the University of Ilorin in 1984 for Bachelor of Law degree. In 1986, he transferred to the prestigious University of Lagos and graduated in 1988 with LLB Hons.
As a result, he proceeded to the Nigerian Law School, Victoria Island for the compulsory Bachelor-at-Law (B.L) and left in 1989. A year after he left the Law School, he enrolled for the Masters of Law Degree of the University of Lagos and graduated in 1991. Not done with academic pursuit, he returned to the University of Lagos to try to assuage his hunger for more academic laurels for his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and earned it in 2005.
He cut his legal teeth in Legal Aid Council as a Youth Corps member and later attachment at the chambers of late Gani Fawehinmi. Currently the National Legal Adviser for the All Progressive Congress (APC), Banire has had wide experience in public service as well. He had served as Commissioner for Environment, Transport and Special Duties in Lagos State between 2000 and 2007.
He earlier served as Special Adviser on Political and Legislative Matters in June 1999. An examiner with the Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria (ICAN), he was a senior lecturer, Department of Private and Property Law, Univerity of Lagos from 1991 to 2010.
He is a member of some professional bodies such as the Law Society of England, Nigerian Bar Association, International Bar Association, Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Nigerian Institute of Management and Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators. For foods, he enjoys snacks very well and is a lover of Table Tennis, Football, Badminton, reading of Novels and General Literature. He is happily married and blessed with four children.
We must also progress to the level of electing the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as it is done in the United States. We must guarantee the autonomy of that office so that the man can take independent decision that is strictly professional. You can’t be an appointee of somebody, particularly this kind of our environment and try to be independent. It is difficult