DR. Muiz Adeyemi Banire, the Interim National Legal Adviser of All Progressives Congress (APC), and former Commissioner of Environment in Lagos State, officially launched the third edition of his book, The Blue Book (a compendium of civil procedure rules in some Nigerian High Court) on Thursday, October 31, 2013, at Protea Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos.
ENCOMIUM Weekly took time out to interview the former Senior Lecturer of Law at University of Lagos, Akoka, on why he chose to write the book. He also fielded questions on other issues of importance.
What would you say informed the publication of the book, The Blue Book, that you launched on Thursday, October 31, 2013?
The Blue Book essentially is not new in its entirety. The first edition was published in 2004. The second edition was 2008 and this is the third edition. This particular one is, however, different from the previous ones. This third edition extends beyond the boundary of Lagos High Court. Now, we have been able to make references to all other High Court jurisdictions. For example, the Kaduna State High Court rule, the Kwara State High Court rule, the Oyo State High Court rule, the Edo State High Court rule, the Federal High Court and some few others. Beyond that, we’ve done in-depth analysis in this one, updating all the authorities in both case law, literature and jurist opinions. So, this edition is way ahead the previous editions.
Honestly, any practicing lawyer, judge, even students of law generally cannot afford not to have a copy. That is the reality. It is a book we are very proud of.
Who is the book meant for?
Essentially, it’s meant for judges, lawyers, law students, particularly those at the law schools, for their civil procedure course. Of course, for any other person that is interested in the study of law. It is a compendium of the rules.
Why the name, Blue Book? What does that blue signify in law?
The colour code for our chamber is blue. We are patterning the book after the White Book of England. In England, the most authoritative book on the civil procedure rule is called the White Book. Our own is called the Blue Book, which we intend to develop to attain the status of the White Book of England.
The two co-authors of the book, are they also members of M. A. Banire and Associates Chamber?
Yes, they are my juniors in the chamber.
But one of them is a commissioner in Osun State?
Yes now, he is a commissioner in the state of Osun. That is to show that no matter where we are, we can always deal with the book collectively. The first edition was published when I was in government.
But considering your tight schedule as a politician and practicing lawyer, how did you still have time for writing books like this?
That is what I have flair for, reading and writing. If you look at my pedigree, you will know I am from the academic, essentially, that is what we do. This is an area of the law that I believe if we do not provide some level of guidance for those who we will be applying the rules, there will be so much conflicts in the system.
How much is a copy?
It is N20,000. That is the cover price. But, of course, you can buy your own at N200,000 or N2 million, if you like. We will not reject it.
Certainly, the book was not written for the pecuniary gain because we learnt the proceeds from the sales of the book would be used to sponsor law students. Why?
We’ve been doing that for sometime now. This is not the first time. We sponsor many students to the Law School every year from this office. We received so many letters of appreciation from the school recently when the results came out. In those days, Law School used to be free. But now, people have to pay fees in an economy that is down. Not less than 25 per cent of students that are eligible to go to Law School cannot go because of the fees. They cannot afford to pay their way through. So, it is a major challenge to all of us.
It’s been more than two years that you left Lagos State cabinet, that you were part of for 12 years. What would you say you missed?
I don’t think I am missing anything. As far as I am concerned, I have contributed my own quota and we thank God for His grace.
You do not miss your Monday meetings?
I still do that here (his law chamber). I do even more than that here now. Most times I get out of my house at 6 a.m.
You do not miss some of your colleagues in the cabinet?
I still see some of them at functions and we talk.
What would you say about the ministries that you left?
They have constraints, most of them have constraints particularly Ministry of Environment. I am not happy with the level of funding for the Ministry of Environment, to be candid. I think there is more to be done. While they are struggling to put in more things, the reality of the matter is that, there is so much on ground to consolidate and maintain. They need funding. But I don’t know, their appropriation is not impressive as far as I am concerned to service the Ministry of Environment.
This your new chamber is big?
It’s no longer new. We’ve been here for almost a year now. We resumed here January 2013.
But you didn’t officially open it?
Not really something we want to celebrate. As far as we are concerned, it’s just like any other office where we work, only that we are improving the environment. We used to have the problem of people pilfering our books in our former office. Where we are now, we are able to protect our books, which is our working asset.
Did you rent this place or you built it?
Technically, I will say we pay rent.
How much did you rent it?
We pay N10 million per annum.
We know one of your ambitions is to become a SAN, are you still pursuing it?
I am still on it, I am working very hard and hoping that God will answer my prayers one day.
Did you apply recently?
I applied for the last one. As far as I am concerned, we did very well but God said it is not yet time. But at least, in terms of the basic criteria that anybody that wants to become a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), we have met and even surpassed it. So, the rest now is divine, if I may say so.
You are still the Interim National Legal Adviser of All Progressive Congress (APC), how have you been coping?
It’s been very challenging, particularly during the registration. I was in the midst of the whole confusion, if I may put it that way. It was a situation I was virtually in Abuja two times in a week which was to me very torturing. We thank God that is over now, we are progressing.
What do you think are the chances of your party in the coming elections?
Very bright, if we are able to manage our gains very well.
But there seems to be wrangling too within the party, particularly over political posts?
You cannot avoid such when you have so many people coming. It’s our capacity and capability to manage it that is important.
A lot of people still bandied your name around as one of those interested in being the next governor of Lagos State?
They are my fans. They love me. But they should do two things. They should continue to pray to God and they should contribute money for me.
But are you actually interested in running for the governorship race?
By now, you should know that’s beyond the issue of my professional progression. I have told you about my life, particularly politically, is dictated by God. I have completely surrendered to God when it comes to such issues. That is an area that people don’t really know much about. That is an area that is full of intrigues, all manners of manipulations and antics. These are the things that I am not very good at. God has not given me the skill in that regard. As far as I am concerned, the only way that you can continue to swim out successfully in that kind of situation is to align yourself fully with God. That is where I belong.
– TOLANI ABATTI