By Chima Ubeku
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The Society for Rule of Law in Nigeria (SRLN) a non-governmental organization has protested the appointment of former President of Court of Appeal, Justice Umaru Abdullahi as the chairman of the panel set up by the National Judicial Council (NJC) to investigate allegations of unethical behaviours against the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu and President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami.

The group said; “Justice Abdulahi is an interested party in the petitions filed by the former governor of Ekiti State, Chief Segun Oni and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Osun State against Justice Salami and other Appeal Court Justices that sat on the appeal panel that sacked Oni and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.”

The group said in a statement issued in Abuja by its Coordinator, Comrade Chima Ubeku that; “It is on record that Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) Sole Proprietor, Mr. Bola Tinubu and the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola held as lavish reception for Justice Abdulahi upon his retired in 2009.

“Pictures of the reception, which was a roll call of politicians of the ACN stock and lawyers that represented the party at various election cases were published in This Day newspaper of 10 November,

2009 where the outgoing President of the Appeal Court, Justice Umaru Farouk Abdullahi was flanked by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola.

“Such a lavish reception could not have been organised for Justice Abdullahi for reasons other than for Governor Fashola, Tinubu, and other ACN members and lawyers to say 'Thank you' to the former Appeal Court President for a job 'Well done'.

“It is also on record that it was Justice Abdulahi that empanelled the Appeal panel that gave the controversial judgment, nullifying the election of Chief Segun Oni on the ground that red biro was used for accreditation instead of blue.

“Therefore, for this reasons, it is morally wrong for the same Justice Abdulahi to be the chairman of a panel set up to investigate Justice Salami, a known ally of Tinubu, whose judgment on Chief Oni is also subject of investigation by the NJC panel.”

While also condemning the involvement of former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) in the NJC emergency meeting of Tuesday, SRLN said; “Akeredolu was among the ACN legal counsel on the Osun State Governorship election cases, and as such an interested party in the matter before the NJC.

“It was therefore against all known norms and laws of justice for Akeredolu to have participated in the NJC meeting where panel to investigate allegations of unethical practice arising from a case that he was a party was discussed.”

Calling on the NJC to remove Justice Abdulahi as chairman of the panel, the group said; “Since justice must not only be done but must be seen to have been done, people like Justice Abdulahi, who have openly associated with parties to the petitions must not be part of the panel.”