SALAMI DIVIDES HOUSE OF REPS
Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Isiaka Bawa Mohammed has replied his colleagues in the minority camp that the crisis in the Judiciary between the suspended President of Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami and the outgoing Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Katsina- Alu was not a business of the federal lawmakers.
Yesterday, Bawa said that the House cannot adjudicate on the matter between the National Judicial Council [NJC] and Justice Ayo Salami since the matter is presently before a competent court.
Maintaining a distance from the position canvassed by the leaders of the minority parties on the issue, Bawa quoted from the House standing order, Order 9 Rule 5 that: 'Reference shall not be made to any matter on which a judicial decision is pending in such a way as might in the speaker's opinion prejudice the interest of parties thereto. Obviously there is nothing that could be done.'
As a result, the Chief Whip stated that the House cannot dabble into such a case now. Minority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila had threatened in a statement on Monday that lawmakers elected on the platform of opposition political parties would boycott sittings of the parliament unless the decision to suspend Justice Salami was reversed before the resumption of plenary on September 13.
The Minority Caucus faulted the suspension and removal of Justice Ayo Salami as PCA by the NJC and also flayed the acceptance of NJC recommendations by President Goodluck Jonathan as a clear violation of the Constitution .
However, Bawa cautioned lawmakers, especially members of the House not to join the controversy in the Judiciary, insisting that nobody would be permitted to drag the House into the matter which is very clear.
Accepting that plenary cannot hold without the opposition party bench being occupied, the Whip stated that the issue has not degenerated to a situation that members would boycott sitting noting, 'there is no room for that, the case is in court therefore there is nothing House could do on it.'
'Section 238 of the 1999 Constitution as amended is very clear about the appointment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria and other principal officers in the judiciary, which spell out vacancy and if there is any vacancy, the president shall appoint the most qualify person to act pending the determination of the case, so the president is right.'We must be guided by the Rule of the House. Therefore the matter cannot in any way affect the sitting of the House when we resume. Justice Salami has already gone to court to seek justice. The best thing to do is to wait for the out come of the court.'
The statement by Gbajabiamila was equally signed by four other principal officers of the Minority Caucus that the House had all along distanced itself from the crisis in keeping with the tenets of separation of power.
It was observed that recent developments had shown that the House could no longer fold its arms and allow that nation's judiciary be drag into the mud, with its attendant erosion on the confidence reposed in the judiciary.