The suspended President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, yesterday, maintained that President Goodluck Jonathan lacked the statutory powers to okay his reinstatement to office.
The embattled PCA who spoke for the first time since the National Judicial Council, NJC, recommended his recall to President Jonathan, equally denied reports that he held a secret meeting with stalwarts of the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, saying the allegation was nothing but a “malicious attempt by some persons to tarnish my image.”
Refuting the allegation through his lead counsel and former Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Akin Olujumi, SAN, Salami, argued that the NJC ought not to have sought the consent of President Jonathan before reinstating him to office, noting that constitution bestows on the council the powers to order him to resume duties having lifted his suspension.
It would be recalled that Justice Salami held sway at the appellate rung of the Nigerian Judicial hierarchy till August 18, 2011, when he was ousted from office by the NJC on allegation that he lied on oath against the immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu.
Salami had in an affidavit he deposed before a Federal High Court in Abuja, alleged that Kastina-Alu pressurized him to pervert justice in a gubernatorial election appeal dispute involving Sokoto State.
However, NJC after a stormy session it held on May 10, urged President Jonathan to reinstate the PCA to office, a request that was ignored by the Presidency on the premise that there were pending litigations in court regarding the subject matter.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke Bello, had on May 22, contended that recalling Salami during the pendency of the cases would amount to subjudice.
Nevertheless, Salami, via a letter he sent to the NJC through his lawyer, asked the NJC to sideline President Jonathan and go ahead and order him to return to office.
Denies secret meeting with ACN
Reacting to his alleged convivial relationship with the ACN, Salami, through his lawyer, noted: “The latest antics by those who are hell bent on running down Justice Salami was the publication of May 31 in a national daily (not Vanguard).
“It was absolutely a lie. There was never any meeting at which Salami was present and at which he made any such submission. He did not attend any meeting with the people listed in the publication. When Salami read it, he said this was another plot by the enemies. They have been to courts. They have resorted to all sorts of tactics. This is the latest lie.”
Olujunmi stressed that Salami found it farcical for the sponsors of the said publication to have cooked up such deliberate falsehood, adding: “The folly of the sponsors of the publication was further ridiculed by the fact that Justice Salami will retire from the Court of Appeal bench in 2013 at the mandatory age of 70 years. The question that then begs for an answer is how Justice Salami who leaves the Court of Appeal bench next year, can influence the political permutations purportedly being made for 2015?”
Meanwhile, it would be recalled that an Abuja Federal High Court had last week dismissed a suit filed by one Noah Ajare who sought an order of the court stopping Jonathan from acting on the recommendations of the NJC relating to Salami’s recall.