Former Lagos State Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Sunday said President Goodluck Jonathan’s refusal to obey the Nigerian Judiciary Council (NJC) reinstatement of the suspended President of the Court of Appeal (PCA), Justice Ayo Salami, was a calculated attempt to disrobe Nigerians of their rights, deny them justice and assault the judiciary.
Tinubu’s reaction, however, came on a day the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) said the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister for Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), reason for not recalling Salami was because it’s reason(s) was not credible. But Tinubu in his first official reaction to NJC’s reinstatement order, said Jonathan had merely “launched a compound coup against the rule of law and judicial integrity”, by not approving the reinstatement of Salami.
According to him, “For reasons only they know, the Federal Government seems eager to provoke crisis where there would be none if only they obeyed the rule of law… Now, Nigerians know this is part of a larger script to end the career of a courageous judge and amputate justice and subvert the rule of law.
“The NJC and the consensus neutral opinion of the country’s most eminent jurists and legal scholars agree that the law points to only one proper course: Salami’s reinstatement. These people hold no partisan political brief...I ask: who is behaving more dangerously partisan in this matter, the ruling party that ignores the great weight of considered legal opinion or the opposition that is willing to live by and under the law? I rest my case and say no more on this specific point. We are witnessing something historic,” he said.
Tinubu, who wondered why President Jonathan was finding it difficult to reinstate Salami, said: “The only role the presidency can properly play in this matter is as a deliverer of messages. That is what our constitution provides.”
Recalling that Salami was allegedly being persecuted for ‘discharging his constitutional obligations’, the former governor added: “With the Attorney General’s unacceptable and unfortunate statement, the curtain has been pulled back. We had hoped this would be resolved with dignity in favour of the rule of law, that we could rest assured the President would safeguard the legal rights of all Nigerians while still being an energetic and tough political opponent to some of us.”
Meanwhile, the NBA in a communiqué it issued at the end of its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held in Lokoja, Kogi State, recently, reminded Adoke that Jonathan chose to uphold the recommendation of the NJC suspending Salami even though he was aware that Salami was in court at that time.
The communique reads: “NBA/NEC considered the decision was made in bad faith as there was pending litigation when the original decision to suspend him was taken.
NBA/NEC reiterates its decision reached at the 2011 Annual Conference of the NBA in Port Harcourt calling for the reinstatement of the PCA on the ground that the suspension was done whilst there was litigation on the correctness or otherwise of the disciplinary action of the National Judicial Council. NBA/NEC viewed the decision as capable of eroding the confidence reposed in the judiciary by Nigerians.”
The association also looked at the disturbing image problem of the Judiciary in particular and the Justice sector in general with the resultant effect of public odium and ridicule.
It advised all stakeholders particularly serving Attorneys- General of the Federation whom it said had arrogated to themselves the right to interprete judicial decisions and legislation in such manner that strictly suited the government of the day regardless of their oath of office, the truth and the lofty standards expected of occupants of such high office, and further advised such functionaries to desist from doing so in view of the incalculable damage such unprofessional conduct is had done to the judiciary.
The association revisited its earlier decision to hold its 2012 Delegates Conference in Kaduna amidst fears of insecurity expressed by some members. It resolved to stand by its earlier decision to hold the conference there.