Contrary to the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, NJC, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke Bello, SAN, yesterday, adduced reasons why President Goodluck Jonathan will not reinstate the suspended President of the Court of Appeal(PCA), Justice Isa Ayo Salami, to office.
The AGF who admitted that the NJC had on May 11, served President Jonathan with a letter requesting that the PCA who was ousted from office nine months ago be recalled, insisted that honouring such recommendation would expressly put the presidency in danger of “sub-judice.”
Noting that Justice Salami had earlier gone to court to query the legality of the suspension that was slammed on him by the NJC on August 18, 2011, the AGF, who reacted to questions that were thrown at him at the 2012 Ministerial Platform in Abuja yesterday, said it would be in the best interest of justice to allow the judiciary to conclude hearing on all the pending litigations trailing the matter.
According to him, “No responsible government will act on a case that is pending before the court. As it is today, the matter is subjudice. This government is prepared to do the right thing; it is a government that is anchored on the rule of law, therefore we will leave issues concerning the reinstatement of Justice Salami to the judiciary, hoping that the matter will be resolved expeditiously.”
Adoke further maintained that it was also sequel to the recommendation of the NJC that President Jonathan, on August 20, 2011, invoked his statutory powers under section 238(4) of the 1999 Constitution, and appointed Justice Dalhatu Adamu to take over from Salami as the Acting President of the Court of Appeal, saying the decision was aimed at ensuring that there was no vacuum in leadership, at the appellate court.
He contended that though the NJC had in its suspension letter, urged the presidency to persuade the National Assembly to okay the retirement of Salami, he said it was due to the respect President Jonathan had for the sanctity of the judiciary that he refrained from taking such action, having been notified about the pendency of the legal action that was instituted by the embattled PCA with a view to quashing his ouster from office.
Meanwhile, the AGF disclosed that barely 24-hours after the NJC asked for the recall of Salami, the presidency was served with fresh originating processes challenging the recommendation vis-à-vis the legal propriety of President Jonathan, acting on an issue still pending before a court of competent jurisdiction.
He said until all the pending cases are determined, the president would not reinstate the suspended PCA.
It would be recalled that the NJC suspended Justice Salami from office on allegation that he was found guilty of judicial misconduct contrary to Rule 1(1) of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Council said the decision was taken after it established that the allegation Salami levelled against the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, regarding the Sokoto Gubernatorial Election Appeal, was false.
Specifically, Salami had in an affidavit he deposed before a Federal High Court in Abuja, revealed how the erstwhile CJN, pressurized him to pervert justice to favour the governorship candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Sokoto State, saying it was the grand reason why Katsina-Alu allegedly hatched plots to “push” him to the apex court bench, an offer the PCA dismissed as a “Greek Gift.”