By Chima Ubeku

The Society for Rule of Law in Nigeria (SRLN) a non-governmental organization has said that the final report of the Probe Panel set up by the National Judicial Council (NJC) to investigate allegations of unethical behaviours against the Appeal Court President, Justice Isa Ayo Salami and six other appeal court justices will either make or mar the country, saying; “a nation with questionable justice system is as good as dead!”

The group also alleged that some influential politicians, who benefitted from the controversial judgments of the Appeal Court justices are already moving around, trying to subvert the panel report, warning that; “Whoever plans to circumvent the probe panel report will be visited by the wrath of God.”

“We are aware of clandestine meetings held in Lagos over the weekend over the NJC panel report with plan to enlist the support of a prominent social critic and some influential Nigerians in the plot to subvert the report,” the group alleged.

The SRLN said in a statement issued today by its Coordinator, Comrade Chima Ubeku that the NJC probe should not be seen in terms of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) versus Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), but from the point of view of the general interest Nigeria and its people.

“Those self-appointed human rights and pro-democracy activists that are keeping silent on this matter because of the political affiliation should know that this is not a PDP versus ACN matter. Rather, it is a test of our ability as a nation to purge ourselves of destructive elements in our midst and reinforce the belief of the people in our judicial system.

“For instance, if a judge could be jailed for eight months in the United Kingdom (UK) for chatting on facebook with an already acquitted accused person, one wonders what would have happened to the likes of Justice Salami if it were to be in the UK that they allegedly had telephone interaction with parties to ongoing matters that were before them.

“Therefore, all Nigerians must know that this issue goes beyond PDP or ACN. It is about our trust in the judiciary, which is the foundation on which democracy stands.

“A society where good lawyers and good arguments backed with legal authorities no longer win cases, but how well a litigant is able to 'relate' with judges is definitely in danger! That is the major issue that must be corrected and if the NJC fails to correct it now, all of us stand the risk of being victims one day.

“Let's even look at it this way. A referee is being investigated by FIFA for awarding and undeserved penalty kick to Manchester United with which Arsenal was defeated. That referee now chooses to hire Alex Fergusons wife as counsel to defend him before the FIFA panel. Not only that, this same referee still chooses to officiate match involving Arsenal and other teams when FIFA was yet to conclude its investigation. Can that happen in a decent society?

“The NJC must therefore save Nigeria from an impending calamity by being firm and objective in its handling of the panel report,” SRLN said.