Banire: 2011 Polls Inconclusive

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Jun 10, 2011 No Comments ›› ACN (ji)

Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) National Legal Adviser Dr Muiz Banire spoke with reporters on the litigations triggered by the recent general elections involving the party. Deputy Political Editor EMMANUEL OLADESU was there.

How many election petitions have the party filed across the country?

The ACN has filed over 50 election petitions across the country and the petitions are still coming. My office usually receives copies of every petition. In Benue State for example, we have 21 election petitions; we also have in Akwa Ibom, Katsina and Jigawa states. In Lagos State, there are over 11 petitions filed against us.

How optimistic is the party on these petitions?

If there are no maneuverings, I am very optimistic about our petition in Benue and Akwa Ibom. We are also going to have a good case in Kwara State and in some senatorial seats in Adamawa State. My office has been relating with all our candidates who have gone to election tribunals across the country. I do receive comprehensive information from them on daily basis. Some of them relate with me directly while others keep me abreast of whatever they are doing in respect of their petitions through Internet.

What is your view on the different interpretations of Section 28 of the Amended Electoral Act 2010 that the court may not have the power to declare winner?

That view is not correct. Though the last National Assembly wanted to achieve that, they missed it because of the style of the drafting.There are two situations in the Electoral Act now. One is a situation where if a petitioner is able to prove his case that he got majority of lawful votes at the election, the court can declare him winner. But if it is on the strength that the other person was not qualified, then the court cannot declare him winner. In that situation the court will order a rerun. I have listened to many lawyers come up with wrong interpretations of that section.
What is your reaction to the tussle for the Speakership of the Lagos State House of Assembly between the former Speaker, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Funmi Tejuosho and Kolawole Taiwo?

The first thing is that Tejuosho never indicated interest in becoming a Speaker. I have four representatives from my local council; two are going to the House of Representatives and two going to the State House of Assembly. I can say emphatically that none of them will do anything without letting me to know, particularly political issues. My view is that we should not struggle for anything. I also belief that the Speakership should not be zoned to Lagos West but to Lagos East because we already have a Deputy Speaker.

But during the last leadership meeting I understand that the East conceded the Speakership position to the West again and I will not support any of my people to go and contest where I know the coast is not clear. I am not used to failure. It is not as if Tejuosho is not qualified, she is one of the most qualified lawmakers in the House. I am a product of party discipline and I belief in party discipline and supremacy. The party must influence the decision of the members.

The second aspect of it relates to Taiwo and Ikuforiji. Again to me, it is legitimate for them to pursue their ambition. In terms of seniority, Taiwo is senior to Ikuforiji. He is going to the House for the fourth term while Ikuforiji is going there for the third term. Also in terms of votes, Taiwo stands a better position of getting votes than Ikuforiji, in fact far higher votes if it is to be determined by votes. But as I said, some of these issues are usually that of the party to decide. That is why we will not find anybody directly commenting on some issues. It was just like when people were asking me about our party’s position on the proposed government of National Unity by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). My response was that the party has stated its position, which is part of party supremacy.

After serving as a Speaker as a representative from Lagos East, What is you position on the agitation for a special status for Lagos?

We all know that Lagos deserves a special status because we are the centre pool to every nationality and other citizens coming into the country. This has made the population pressure to continue to mount. Also being the former capital territory, it deserves a special status. In the World today, every country has granted special status to their former federal capital cities just to keep the spate of development going.

The battle to control the center in country is always tough…

The struggle for the centre in this country is tough because there are no corresponding liabilities to address at the center. All the money and wealth are concentrated and controlled at the centre, which has but less responsibility.  What is the Federal Government doing with universities or agriculture? These are things that are supposed to be the responsibilities of the states. Imagine for four years that I served as Commissioner for the Environment in Lagos State, we could not assess the ecological fund despite the billions of money voted for ecology and there are so many ecological problems all over the place. Billions of naira set aside as ecological fund is just wasting in the Federal Government purse.


The Nation

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