Salami: Jonathan wrong- NBA

2011-08-23
VANGUARD Newspaper

LAGOS—The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, yesterday came hard on President Goodluck Jonathan saying he has failed to follow due process and observe the rule of law over his endorsement of the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, NJC, suspending the President of Appeal Court, Justice Ayo Salami from office over his feud with the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu.

The President’s action has also been roundly condemned across the country with civil society groups in Lagos embarking on peaceful demonstration to protest Justice Salami’s removal


Civil Society Coalition Against Injustice Protesting over the removal of Justice Isa Salami in Lagos on Monday (22-8-11).
Lawyers attending the Annual General Conference in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, also booed the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke, SAN, when he was delivering his speech at the event.

This came less than 24 hours after the association withdrew its members from the membership of the NJC for recommending Salami’s suspension even while Salami’s suit challenging the council’s actions was still pending in court

It also said it would boycott Friday’s, swearing-in of the new Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, recently appointed by the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee, LPPC.

The NBA also warned that unless the rot in the judiciary was urgently addressed, the country’s fledging democracy could be threatened., even as it noted that it would rejoin the National Judicial Council, NJC, if it was reformed.

In his speech at the conference, NBA president, Mr Joseph Daudu, SAN, said “We must point out regrettably that two hours after our resolutions were made public, the President and Commander in chief of the Armed Forces appointed Justice Dalhatu Adamu as Acting President of the Court of Appeal. Whether the decision to appoint and subsequent announcement was coincidental is not important here. What is significant is that once again, the President has lost a clear opportunity to range himself on the side of due process and the Rule of Law.”

According to him, “an efficient and incorruptible judiciary will guarantee a vibrant, just and egalitarian society. On the other hand, a crooked, corrupt and inefficient judiciary will promote disunity, insecurity, anarchy and strife in the polity. Be it noted that no person is born a judge; his initial appointment is from the Bar. Lawyers who ply their trade in court are acknowledged as ministers in the temple of justice. The bar and bench therefore have a symbiotic relationship. The relationship in reality ought not to be solely mutually beneficial; it must be principally beneficial to the society at large.

“The Bar cannot continue to take the blame for a situation that we are not responsible for. After all we are veritable stakeholders in the justice sector. Our withdrawal from the National Judicial Council, NJC, does not mean that we shall sit helplessly with our chin in hand. The Nigeria project is far too important for us to resign ourselves to utter helplessness. We shall now engage the system proactively borrowing a leaf from progressive Bars like the Pakistan Bar Association. We are resolved to confront any form of lawlessness be it executive, judicial or legislative.

Jonathan violated his oath of office—ACN

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has accused President Goodluck Jonathan of violating his oath of office by appointing an Acting President of the Court of Appeal, even when there is no vacancy in the office and the whole process failed to meet Constitutional stipulations. In a statement issued in Lagos on Monday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the President’s action, which is clearly subjudice, amounts to a repudiation of the oath he took to protect the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and uphold the rule of law.

Mr Tani Molajo, SAN

“The rule, which is universally acceptable is that once a matter has become a subject of litigation, status quo has to be maintained until a decision is handed down, in order that no one will reach the expected decision and frustrate the satisfaction of whichever reliefs as granted by the court.

But a matter which had been stated with such clarity, I find it difficult to understand how that principle was disregarded. They ought to have looked through the merits and the demerits as it may be ultimately be decided. I think, they are too far reaching in taking that decision of suspending Justice Salami.

Salami’s removal is untenable and ominous — Bamidele Aturu

Mr Aturu in his reaction said “one is lost for words to describe the decision of the President to ratify the recommendation of some members of the National Judicial Council that the President of the Court of Appeal be retired. The decision is clearly not in the best interest of the country and will certainly strengthen the enemies of the rule of law. It is unclear to me why the President chose to side with the judicial anarchists and terrorists who made the recommendation in the first place.

What is clear is that many people who had assumed that the President is a gentleman who will not do anything to confer undue advantage on himself and his political party would be forgiven if they think that he was part of the game-plan right from the beginning and that it is all about getting Salami out of the Presidential election Tribunal hearing the CPC case against the President’s election.

The President ought to know that Justice Salami had submitted the case before a court of competent jurisdiction. He should have been advised by his Attorney General not to foist on the court a situation of complete helplessness. If the Attorney General did not give the proper advise, that is quite regrettable. For me I think that the President should start to look for another Attorney General of the Federation. The quality of advise the President is getting is quite doubtful

The President’s action is a nullity— Sagay

CONSTITUTIONAL lawyer, Professor Itse Sagay, SAN, said “I think the President was ill-advised. Let us start from the action of the NJC, which has been condemned by all lawyers including the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, stating it is illegal, null and void and unconstitutional. The NJC took the action in the case of a proceeding in court which prohibits them from taking any action other than responding to that proceeding. The result is that anything done by them (NJC) is a nullity. So, what they (NJC) transmitted to the president was a nullity; and by acting on it, the President has acted on nullity. That means also that his (President) action is nullity and so the removal of Salami is a nullity.

Now, the question that follows is this: How can this nullity be enforced?

Unfortunately, what is going to happen is that we are going to have the law on one side and the might of the Federal government on the other side. I will not be surprised if the might of the federal government, suppresses law for the moment, so that the illegality will continue to operate because might will have it. But eventually, when the case is heard to a logical ending, because it is that logical process that the whole illegality will be exposed, that will be an embarrassment to the Federal government and the judiciary.

NBA must be resilient—Nnoruka Udechukwu, SAN,

In his own reaction, Mr Udechukwu said, “It is unfortunate that this is coming from the level of the NJC, therefore it is good bye to the stability of judicial institution. For a long time, the institution has been progressively debased by some elements who are bent to rock the boat. It is a pity that this could happen in the first instance.


President Jonathan and NBA President Joseph Daudu (SAN)
“In the face of the action in court, I want Justice Salami to be resilient in the pursuit of truth against those who want to undermine justice. I am also expecting the NBA to be resilient in the pursuit of the truth, it is not those who win at the short run but ensure justice is done. Those behind this embarrassing development are those using the machinery of government and the police to harass everybody.

The vacuum has to be filled —Oyetibo, SAN

On his part, Mr Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) said “What I am aware of is that Justice Adamu was appointed as acting President of the Court of Appeal until the resolution of the problem. The appointment was created to fill the vacuum created by Salami’s suspension. The office of the President of the Court of Appeal is too important to be left in vacuum, the suspension created a vacuum which needed to be filled.

He (Salami) has taken the matter to court and he (Salami) is entitled to challenge his suspension in court and therefore, one cannot comment on that. The suspension is a fact which has happened, which created a vacuum and that vacuum has to be filled because there are so many statutory functions which needed to be performed by the President of the Court of Appeal. So, there is need for that office to be occupied by somebody. So, it cannot be left vacant.

Civil Society group protests in Lagos

Members of human rights groups under the aegis of Civil Society Coalition Against Injustice yesterday staged a peaceful demonstration to the office of Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State to protest Justice Salami’s removal

The placards carrying protesters displayed various inscriptions such as; “Go Katsina Alu go now”, “National Judicial Council is fraud”, “judicial hypocrisy in the NJC”, “Salami the incorruptible judge”, “NJC shameless justice”.

Spokesman for the group, Mr. Ayo Opadokun, who arrived at the state secretariat at noon also berated the alleged sorry state of the judiciary that has been, “Reduced to state of penury.”

While presenting a letter addressed to the president through the governor, the group described the decision as sub-judice, while stressing that the role being played by men and women who occupy the NJC in recent times were quite appalling and destructive to national co-existence of the country.

Presenting a letter signed by Olanrewaju Suraju and Sina Loremikan both co-conveners, the group expressed disappointment that the NJC that should be the bulwark of rule of law, judicial integrity and sanctity has “turned itself into a motor park strategist adopting a cavalier method of self help in order to redress its grievance in modern times.”

The letter described the current judiciary as nothing but a kangaroo system where double standard, partiality, corruption, nepotism, shamelessness, perversion, arrogance, mediocrity poetic justice and shallowness of thought and knowledge reign supreme.

The groups therefore, called for the dissolution of NJC while stressing that a probe be conducted into the affairs to sanction all unscrupulous individuals involved in the unfolding melodrama.

Lagos lawmakers slam Jonathan

Lawmakers of the Lagos State House of Assembly have also condemned President Goodluck Jonathan for hurriedly approving the suspension of the President of the Appeal Court, Justice Ayo Salami, describing the action as an “abuse of Rule of Law”.

Deputy Speaker of the House, Taiwo Kolawole who raised the issue under Matter of Urgent Public Importance during plenary on Monday noted that the judiciary has always been seen as the holiest amongst other institutions in the country.

While wondering why few people in the National Judicial Council (NJC) will go ahead suspend the

president of the Appeal Court on a matter pending in the Court, Kolawole condemned Jonathan for approving what he described as an illegality.

The House in its resolution however, called on members of the National Assembly to stand by the popular position and out rightly reject the position of President Jonathan.

Salami’s security details still intact——Police

Police authorities in the FCT Command yesterday insisted that the home of suspended Justice Ayo Salami, in Asokoro, Abuja, was never attacked or invaded by its operatives as widely suspected because of the re-enforcement of Police patrols noting that it was routine patrols that was being carried out.

An Assistant Commissioner of Police who spoke under condition of anonymity told Vanguard that security was re-enforced in the area because security agencies did not want to be taken unawares on the safety of the former Court of Appeal boss or any member of his family and that the Police was acting based on past experience.

“As I am talking to you, Justice Salami’s house was never invaded or his privacy disturbed. His Police details are intact. None of them was removed. They are still withy him. Any body telling you that his house was invaded by the police is acting on hearsay. He is free to go any where he wishes. His movement or that of his family is not curtailed”.

Salami: SERAP sues FG, NJC over alleged unlawful removal

Meanwhile the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has dragged the Federal Government and the National Judicial Council (NJC) to Court over alleged “unlawful suspension and removal of Justice Ayo Salami as President of the Court of Appeal (PCA).”

Joined as parties to the suit No FHC/IKJ/CS/174/211 filed today before the Federal High Court in Ikeja are: President Goodluck Jonathan; Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke and the National Judicial Council (NJC).

SERAP in its suit is praying the court among others for

A DECLARATION that the suspension of Honourable Justice Ayo Salami, President Court of Appeal (PCA) by the National Judicial Council (NJC) without due process of law, and despite the reports of the NJC’s two committees exonerating him of all charges against him is null, ultra vires, void and unconstitutional as it violates his right to a fair hearing guaranteed by Sections 36 and 21(b) of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and Article 14 the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

 

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