A source in the Nigerian judiciary told SaharaReporters that Nigeria’s new Chief Justice, Maryam Aloma Muktar, has stated in an interview as well as confided in associates that the reinstatement of Justice Isa Ayo Salami as President of the Court of Appeal is far from a priority for her.
“She has told us that Justice Salami’s case is not her concern,” the source disclosed.
Justice Muktar was at Aso Rock today to be sworn in as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the first woman to ever hold the post.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria expressed dismay at the stance taken by the new CJN. “I was shocked,” said the lawyer, adding, “for a CJN who promised to cleanse the judiciary to say that the Salami issue is not her issue is disappointing.”
Our expectation is she should have said that not only Salami’s controversy but all issues related to reforming the judiciary will be given due attention.”
Justice Muktar today granted an interview to Ibrahim Isah, the BBC Hausa Correspondent in Aso Rock, at the conclusion of her swearing in. Asked how she would handle the continued suspension of Justice Salami, the new CJN curtly stated, “This one is not my matter.”
The Goodluck Jonathan administration has failed to implement a decision of the National Judicial Council (NJC) recommending that Mr. Salami be restored to his former post at the Court of Appeal. Even so, the same administration was quick to remove Mr. Salami in what was seen as a politically motivated maneuver after the same NJC had proposed suspension.
“This is a rather troubling start to Justice Muktar’s tenure at the helm of the Nigerian judiciary,” said the SAN who spoke to SaharaReporters. He added: “One would have expected her to indicate that she would address Justice Salami’s case as well as other issues bearing on the independence and performance of the judiciary.”