Oni hails NJC over Probe Panel report

By Lere Olayinka
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Former governor of Ekiti State, Chief Segun Oni has hailed the National Judicial Council (NJC) over the report of the probe panel it set up to investigate allegations of unethical behaviours against the President Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, saying; "For once, the judiciary has giving Nigerians hope that there won't come a day, when a judge would sit on his own divorce case to punish his errant wife simply because he occupies a privileged position.”

Oni, who reacted to newspaper reports on the NJC probe panel report through his Chief Media Aide, Wale Ojo-Lanre said; "Our case before the NJC was premised on unethical relationship between Justice Salami and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) leaders that has been established by the NJC."

The former governor described the panel report as the first and crucial leg in his crusade against injustice, adding that; "The coast is now clear for the commencement of our case at the Ado-Ekiti Appeal Court, which was adjourned sine die because of the NJC report.

"Rule 1 (2) (a) of Rules of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that: 'A judicial officer must avoid social relationships that are improper or give rise to an appearance of impropriety, that cast doubt on the judicial officer's ability to decide cases impartially, or that bring disrepute to the judiciary.

"Rule 2 (C) (1) states that: A Judicial Officer should disqualify himself in a proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned..

"Therefore, with the establishment of relationship with between Justice Salami and ACN leaders, sane minds should know by now that whatever judgment delivered by such a judge on any case that concerns the ACN cannot stand.

"This position is premised on the authority of judicial decisions and pronouncements of eminent jurists, including but not limited to Lord Denning (MR).

"In the case of METROPOLITAN PROPERTIES COMPANY (FGC) LTD v LANNON & ORS (1968) 3 All ER 304 @ 310 Lord Denning MR held thus: 'in considering whether there was a real likelihood of bias, the Court does not look at the mind of the chairman of the Tribunal whoever it may be, who sits in judicial capacity. It does not look to see if there was real likelihood that he would, or did, in fact favour one side at the expense of the other the Court looks at the impression which would be given to other people. Even if he was as impartial as could be, nevertheless, if right minded persons would think that, in the circumstance there was a real likelihood of bias on his part, then he should not sit. And if does sit, his decision cannot stand."

On allegation of financial inducement on which the panel reportedly cleared Justice Salami, Oni said; "We are not concerned about that.

Our grouse is on unethical conduct of the justices, which we premised on improper relationship and by extension, the likelihood of bias. So far, so good, that has been established by the NJC panel."