Salami Faults NJC’s Request to Jonathan on Recall

Salami Faults NJC’s Request to Jonathan on Recall

Salami Faults NJC’s Request to Jonathan on Recall

Suspended President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, has told an Abuja Federal High Court that the National Judicial Council was wrong to seek the approval of President Goodluck Jonathan to recall him.

Salami was suspended by the NJC on August 18, 2011, after a face-off with then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu (retd).

But after agreeing to reinstate him in May 2012, the body forwarded its recommendation to Jonathan, who refused to act on it on the grounds that the matter was subjudice.

In his submissions in a suit filed by 11 human rights lawyers, for themselves and on behalf of the Registered Trustees of Centre for the Promotion of Arbitration, Salami contended that the council was wrong to seek Jonathan’s approval to reinstate him.

The plaintiffs, are by their suit before the Abuja FHC seeking an order of mandamus to compel the President and the NJC to recall Salami.

The plaintiffs listed Jonathan; the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke; the NJC; and Salami; as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants in the suit.

Jonathan and the AGF, in their preliminary objections, asked the court to dismiss the suit, while the NJC took sides with the plaintiffs, asking the court to determine the matter in the (plaintiffs) favour.

The court, presided by Justice Adamu Bello, listened to the submissions of all parties in the suit on Thursday and adjourned till March 11 to deliver judgment.

The plaintiffs’ counsel, Chief Niyi Akintola, SAN, who was holding brief for the lead counsel, Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN, maintained that the provisions of the 1999 Constitution made it clear that the NJC does not need the approval of any authority or person in the appointment and discipline of judicial officers.

Salami’s lawyers, in their written address in response to the preliminary objections raised by counsel for Jonathan and the AGF, Mr. Mathew Echo, submitted that “the reference of Salami’s reinstatement or recall from suspension to the President of Nigeria by the NJC is an act of commission and a violation of section 158(1) and (2), paragraph 21(b) of Part 1 of 3rd Schedule”.

They condeneted that it constituted infraction on the doctrine of separation of powers enshrined under sections 4, 5 and 6 of the 1999 Constitution.

Section 158(1) states, “In exercising its power, the NJC shall not be subject to the direction or control of any authority or person.”

Akintola argued that the constitutional breaches involved in the issues surrounding Salami’s suspension “have subjected the judiciary to public criticism, ridicule and loss of confidence”.

He said, “The plaintiffs as legal practitioners have been adversely affected by these constitutional breaches and loss of confidence in the judiciary by members of the public.”

He noted that they (plaintiffs) had the locus standi to institute and maintain the action.

Asking the court to dismiss the suit, Echo insisted that Jonathan and the AGF were right in refusing to approve Salami’s reinstatement.

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