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Suspended Court of Appeal President, Hon. Justice Ayo Salami

Suspended Court of Appeal President, Hon. Justice Ayo Salami

By NAL staff writer
The suspension of Nigeria’s Court of Appeal president and the swift appointment of an acting President for the nations’ second highest court of law is fast turning into a national crisis for Africa’s largest democracy.

Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, over the weekend partly granted the request of the Nigerian Judicial Council’s (NJC) recommendation for the compulsory retirement of Hon. Justice Isa Ayo Salami for flaunting the directives of the judicial apex council.

NJC had asked justice Salami to apologize to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN ), Alloysius Katsina-Alu over the former accusation of interference against the CJN in the Court of Appeal’s verdict on the 2007 Sokoto State Governorship election petition. The NJC committee set up to look into matter exonerates the CJN and declared the Appeal’s court president allegation as false.

Jonathan on Sunday approved the appointment of Hon. Justice Dalhatu Adamu as acting President for the Court of Appeal pending the determination of ongoing suit in the court of law. But civil society groups and some notable Nigerians have condemn the President’s action as illegal and unwarranted.

“President Jonathan, in exercise of the powers conferred on him by Section 238 (4) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, has approved the acting appointment of Hon. Justice Dalhatu Adamu to perform the functions of the office of the President of the Court of Appeal pending when all issues relating to the office of the President of the Court of Appeal are resolved,” statement from the president’s adviser on media and publicity, Reuben Abati reads.

Justice Adamu was reported to have taken oath of office on Monday at 8:40am local time.

The decision of President Jonathan was greeted with anger and momentarily disruptions of event  in Port Harcourt at the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) annual gathering. The country’s Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Mohammed Adoke  who represented the president at the event was reported to have been heckled by protesting lawyers.

In Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest city, civil rights groups took their protest to the street and to the office of the State Governor, Babatunde Fashola. The protesters led by former NADECO chieftain, Ayo Opadokun described the action of the President as disappointing and bias.

In an unusual strong remark, Lagos governor declares that a breakdown of the judiciary constitute a major threat to the country.

“At various times, we have had to deal with messages threatening the existence of our nation. Let me say here that those signs are with us now…. [the judiciary] perhaps the most critical institution that sustains democracy. The vehicle for conflict resolution, and if it is now an object of conflict haywire manipulation, such is an ominous sign for our country.”

Fearing backlash that could result from his action, Jonathan on Monday refuted claims of possible interference in the workings of the judiciary.

“I am a firm believer of the doctrine of Separation of Powers since nations rise and fall in accordance to how they relate to the rule of law. I have sworn an oath to defend the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I refuse to be pressured to do things that will be against our constitution,” the president stated on his social media page.

However, the president attempt to clear himself of  ulterior motives in his decision does not seem to have resolute with his critics as the voices against the NJC and the appointment of an acting president for the Court of Appeal continues to grow stronger.

The case against and in favour of NJC act is now taking a dangerous political spin and spanning across the three arms of government. It is no longer a case between Alloysius Katsina-Alu and Salami. Supporters of both judicial chiefs have now resulted into media campaign in support of their principals.

The complexity of the judicial row has now taking the dimension of political interest between the presidency (the ruling party) and some opposition parties led by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

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    One Response to “Judicial row: Salami suspension turns political”

    1. Bamikola August 23, 2011

      The ISSUE is just NOT about Justice Salami; It is MORE of Compromise of JUDICIARY -the THIRD BRANCH of the Federal Government with BALANCE-of-POWERS.
      A seating is by the Constitution IMPEACHED by 2/3rd of SENATE VOTES; Not by SUMMARY DISMISSAL by a President whose function is only to sign such Senate Decision into the Law Book