NJC declines to elevate Salami to S'Court

2011-02-10
THE PUNCH Newspaper- Tony Amokeodo & Friday Olokor

THE contentious issue of the alleged elevation of the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Salami, to the Supreme Court by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysious Katsina-Alu, was resolved on Wednesday as the National Judicial Council declined to give effect to the move.



A source close to the NJC told THE PUNCH that at the end of its emergency meeting in Abuja, the council directed that the status quo on the matter should be maintained.



He added that Justice Salami would remain as the president of the Court of the Appeal because he had declined the offer. He said that as such, the issue was dead and could not be raised again.



He also said that a three-man reconciliation committee headed by a former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Umaru Abdullahi, had been set up to reconcile the CJN and Salami.



The meeting was presided over by the CJN while Salami and other members of the council were in attendance.



Other members of the NJC include the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN); former NBA presidents, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) and Olisa Agbakoba (SAN); erstwhile Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Pius Aderemi; and a former chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Justice Emmanuel Ayoola (retd.);.



Also in the NJC are the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Dan Abutu; Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, Justice Akpiroroh (retd); Justice Umaru Abdullahi, Grand Khadi Abubakar Shettima; Justice Kate Adiri, Justice Innocent Uwazurike, and former NBA President, Chief Onueze Okocha (SAN).



The source said, “I can tell you authoritatively that the issue of Justice Salami came up during the meeting. But there are laid down procedures on the elevation of judges. Once an individual judge is nominated, his consent will be sought. But once the individual rejects the offer, that is the end of the issue.



“In the instant case, Justice Salami has said that he is not interested in the elevation, saying that he prefers to remain in his present position. But nobody can force him to take the promotion.



“The position of the NJC is that you can’t force a promotion on a person who does not want it. Majority of the NJC members agreed that Justice Salami should remain at the Court of Appeal since he is not interested in the promotion.”



There had been controversy over the proposed elevation just as the issue had caused disquiet in the Bar and the Bench.



The development prompted Salami to write a letter to the CJN, declining the promotion.



He added that the elevation was an ‘unholy move’ that could engender a dangerous precedent.



The NBA also intervened in the controversy by asking the NJC to suspend the promotion until the amicable resolution of the issue.



A Lagos –based lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, had also through his lawyer, Mr. Bamidele Aturu, filed a suit before a Federal High Court in Abuja, challenging the legality of the elevation.



But an unprecedented action occurred on Tuesday when Justice Salami sued the CJN over the issue and named the Federal Judicial Service Commission, the NJC and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice as co-defendants.



He also made weighty allegations against the CJN over the Sokoto State governorship tussle.

 

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