Outgoing Chief Justice of Nigeria Justice Dahiru Musdapher has for the first time opened up on the Salami affair that rocked the judiciary last year.
Saying he accosted both Chief Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu and Appeal Court President Isa Ayo Salami and abused them for their roles in the scandal.
He said, “Both of them, I talked to them individually, and I abused them for what they even did. I did! I was not happy at all.”
The Chief Justice, who spoke to a group of reporters at his Abuja residence on Monday evening, was asked how he felt when this country’s three top judges including him testified under oath before the National Judicial Council [NJC] and gave conflicting accounts of an event.
He said, “I felt very very bad. Number one, the three of us were all classmates. I was in the Court of Appeal’s Benin Division when Ayo Salami was appointed a judge of the Court of Appeal and we were there together for about two and a half years. We are very close family friends.
“When the issue arose, I was not number two, I was number three. Justice Niki Tobi was number two. I was not a member of the NJC. I just happened to be in the office of the Chief Justice one time when Justice Ayo Salami came over the Sokoto election petition issue.
“What I was told at that time was that the judgment had leaked. As usual I won’t keep quiet, so I said if the judgment has leaked, then go and have another panel with credibility to look into it. Quite honestly I left them at that stage.”
The Chief Justice added, “Eventually, in his own affidavit Justice Ayo Salami mentioned that I was there when Katsina-Alu asked him to enter judgment in favour of one of the parties. At the same time, Justice Katsina-Alu also said I was his number two man at that time… He said one other thing at that time.
“In my evidence, I spoke the truth as I know it. It might be possible I wasn’t around when they had their meeting and discussed whatever it was they discussed. I did say that I wasn’t there when Katsina-Alu asked Isa Ayo Salami to ask his judges to…How can you even do that kind of thing anyway? What guts have we got to ask a judge, at the level that we are in, to enter judgment [laughter]…
“Both of them, I talked to them individually, and I abused them for what they even did. I did! I was not happy at all. They were both classmates of mine and they both worked under me at one time or the other.”