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*Intersociety Writes Jonathan On Salami's Reinstatement & Corruption In The Judiciary
Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
President & Commander-in-Chief
Federal Republic of Nigeria
The State House
Three Arms- Zone
Expected Approval Of The Reinstatement Of Honourable Justice Ayo Isa Salami As PCA: The Need For Your Excellency To Be Properly Guided
(Onitsha Nigeria, 11th day of May, 2012)- International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, Intersociety, respectfully write Your Excellency in respect of the recommendation of the National Judicial Council to Your Excellency for the reinstatement of Honourable Justice Ayo Isa Salami as the President of the Court of Appeal. According to media reports, the NJC had on Thursday, 10th day of May 2012 adopted the recommendation of its ad-hoc committee set up after its meeting of 29th day of February 2012 and reportedly forwarded same to Your Excellency for Your Excellency’s approval in line with powers conferred on Your Excellency by Section 238 of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 as amended.
Recall Your Excellency that Your Excellency had in exercise of same powers, suspended Honourable Justice Ayo Isa Salami as the PCA on 18th day of August 2011 and appointed Honourable Justice Dalhatu Adamu as the Acting PCA “pending when all issues relating to allegations of misconduct leveled against Honourable Justice Salami are resolved”. Honourable Justice Ayo Isa Salami was accused of breaching Section 292(1) (misconduct) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 as amended over his handling of election matters in Osun and Ekiti States, Southwest Nigeria.
Though, the NJC’s letter of recommendation to Your Excellency has not been made public, but it is possible, going by the media reports, that some critical issues bordering on constitutional provisions might have been left un-addressed in the recommendation, hence the need for Your Excellency to be properly guided and for the lay Nigerians to be put in the common knowledge of the event. One of the critical constitutional issues borders on the Honourable Justice Salami’s statutory age of retirement (70years) or his mandatory optimum years of service in civil service (35years). During the Alu-Salami scandal in 2011, it was clearly stated and it became a public knowledge that Honourable Justice Ayo Isa Salami and Honourable Justice Aloysius Katsina Alu were called to Bar same time and that in terms of age of retirement from the Bench, Honourable Justice Ayo Salami was few months younger in the Bench than Honourable Justice Aloysius Katsina Alu who retired in the third quarter of 2011. This means that both of them were due for retirement in 2011.
Our questions to Your Excellency now are: What sort of reinstatement of Honourable Justice Ayo Isa Salami has the NJC recommended to Your Excellency? Is it a nominal or active reinstatement? If Honourable Justice Ayo Salami is to be reinstated as the PCA, is he to take over and preside the Court of Appeal or is it as the PCA emeritus without a criminal dent in retirement? If Honourable Justice Ayo Salami is to be reinstated from a nine-month suspension from office, does Your Excellency also have constitutional power to suspend and reinstate his age of retirement?
Another critical constitutional issue that borders on the present case is the issue of the present occupant of the office of the PCA, Honourable Justice Dahaltu Adamu. Our question is: by law, is Honourable Justice Dahaltu Adamu still the acting PCA or has he become the substantive PCA? According to Section 238(5) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 as amended, Your Excellency is forbidden from extending the three months acting capacity of the present PCA, except on the recommendation of the NJC. So, our further question is: has the NJC’s recommendation been secured by Your Excellency to effect the extension of Honourable Justice Adamu’s “acting” tenure? And if yes, when and under what circumstances? Or can he remain in acting capacity for nine months in view of the provisions of Section 238(5) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 as amended? Satisfactory handling of the critical constitutional questions above is extremely important.
Our position remains that the duo of Honourable Justices Aloysius Katsina Alu and Ayo Isa Salami were shielded from criminal investigations by their professional colleagues under the guise of the “NJC” and its sub-committees, which magisterially usurped the powers of the police, EFCC and the ICPC in matters of criminal investigations. The exoneration of the duo without competent criminal investigations is the height of abetting and aiding of crimes against public decency including corruption, bribery and abuse of office. With major practical changes taking place in the Power Holding Company of Nigeria and the Nigeria Police Force which used to be two most corrupt public institutions in Nigeria, the Nigeria Judiciary may most likely run neck to neck with the Executive Arm as the two emerging most corrupt organs or branches of government or public institutions in Nigeria.
Though, it is correctly submitted that not every judge or magistrate in Nigeria is corrupt and that not every judge or magistrate in Nigeria is not corrupt, but it can be further asserted safely that in matters of election petitions and financial matters for instance, they have become the quickest and cheapest means of criminal enrichment for not all judges, but majority of them in Nigeria. The bribery and corruption associated with the handling of pre-election and post-election matters and financial crimes in the country are equivalent to the roadblock extortion in the Nigeria Police Force and the illegitimate allowances and security votes in the executive and legislative arms. In matters of high profile nature such as political matters, it may be correct to say that 70% of the judges demand and take huge bribes with reckless abandon, 20% accept “reasonable” offer of bribes, 5% accept “brown envelops” for “jobs well done” and 5% dispense justice as it ought to be without strings attached, or without fear or favour. The recent conviction of former Governor James Onanefe Ibori and his associates by UK Courts over money laundering and other related criminal charges has brought a lot of shame to the Nigeria Judiciary, which gave him and his associates a clean slate over similar criminal charges leveled against him and his associates by the EFCC in Nigeria. He plea-bargained in the UK and entered plea of “not guilty in Nigeria”. As widely expected, our “law-lords” “concurred” and set him free in defiance of judicial decorum and decency.
It is our firm submission that something surgical must be done, Your Excellency, to reverse this dangerously ugly trend in the Nigeria Judiciary. When a nation robes termites and stations them in her Hallowed Chambers of Justice to dispense justice, such a nation is doomed irremediably. This is exactly where the Nigeria’s case is heading.
For: Intersociety, Nigeria
Comrade Justus Ijeoma
Head, Publicity Desk
Phone: +234(0) 8037114869
*Tags: Nigerians, Intersociety, Council, Police, Service, Commission. Sack, Ringim, Africa, Masterweb
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