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Justice Ayo Salami Recalled, The controversies and the issues
Ayo Salami Recalled, The controversies and The issues
Justice Isa Ayo Salami is on his way to return to The position of Court of Appeal president, following a decision to reinstate him by The National Judicial Council yesterday.
The council will now write to President Jonathan recommending The recall of Salami from suspension, officials involved in The decision told Daily Trust in Abuja yesterday.
NJC began a meeting on The Salami matter on Wednesday and a resolution was adopted on The second day of its meeting which ended at about 4pm in Abuja yesterday.
Salami was suspended on August 18 last year in The wake of his tussle with then Chief Justice of Nigeria Aloysius Katsina-Alu.
NJC suspended him because he refused to apologise for publicly accusing Katsina-Alu of trying to influence The appeal court judgement on The Sokoto governorship election case, an allegation The council said could not be substantiated.
Salami came public with The allegation after The then CJN nominated him to The Supreme Court, which he said was an attempt to ease him out from The Court of Appeal.
There was no official announcement on Salami’s reinstatement yesterday, but senior officials involved in NJC affairs confirmed to Daily Trust that The decision was taken.
It is now be up to President Jonathan to announce The decision. The constitution empowers NJC to make recommendation to The president for The appointment and removal of certain judiciary officers including The appeal court president.
If Salami’s recall is announced, he will have just over a year to stay as court of appeal president. According to information on The Federal Judicial Service Commission’s website, Salami was born on October 15, 1943, so he would be retiring by October 14 next year when he would have attained The retirement age of 70.
Well before his public spat with Katsina-Alu, Salami had been a target of The ruling People’s Democratic Party because it blamed him for The string of tribunal losses it recorded in The Southwest.
Senior PDP figures in The region accuse Salami of being The man behind The curtain responsible for removal of PDP governors in Ondo, Ekiti and Osun states after The 2007 elections. The Ekiti PDP leaders are still pursuing court cases trying to prove a connection between Action Congress of Nigeria leader Bola Tinubu and Salami, which they say was responsible for their losses to The ACN at tribunals.
But it was The Sokoto matter that appeared to have pushed Salami into The hands of his traducers.
When he got wind of his nomination to The Supreme Court, he swore to court affidavit saying that Katsina-Alu wanted to edge him out because he refused to accede to The then CJN’s demands that he disband The Sokoto tribunal on The grounds that it was about to remove Governor Aliyu Wamakko.
The NJC then set up a committee headed by Justice Babalakin which exonerated The Salami.
But Katsina-Alu set up another NJC investigative panel headed by Justice Umaru Abdullahi, a former President of The Court of Appeal, and then another committee headed by The Justice Ibrahim Auta which recommended that Salami should apologise to Katsina-Alu within seven days because he had no evidence to support his allegations.
Salami refused to apologise, and instead headed to court asking it to set aside all decisions by The NJC under Katsina-Alu in The matter.
It was while The case was going on that his suspension was announced.
Apart from The NJC panels, The Nigerian Bar Association also set up a panel which conducted an independent investigation into The matter and exonerated Salami.
Before his suspension, Salami was presiding over The presidential election tribunal, which was reconstituted after his suspension and it went on to reverse some of The rulings he had given.
As president of The Court of Appeal, he was also empowered by law to appoint judges for all election tribunals that would sit on governorship, state legislative and National Assembly elections.
Cases arising from The 2011 elections have been disposed by The tribunals as The constitutional deadline for hearing The matters has elapsed.
Road to return
After The retirement of Katisina-Alu, The new Chief Justice of Nigeria Dahiru Musdapher set up a high-powered Judiciary reform committee headed by Justice Muhammad Uwais. This committee recommended Salami’s reinstatement.
Another sub-committee was subsequently set up by The NJC, headed by Justice Maryam Alooma Mukhtar, which also recommended The recall of Salami. It was this report that was endorsed by The NJC yesterday.
Justice Ayo Salami Recalled, The controversies and The issues
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