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JUDICIARY IN THE HANDS OF JUSTICE SALAMI & OTHERS

Source: Dr. Lukman Adeyemo
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All lovers of rule of law in Nigeria must be worried by the raging

controversies in the Nation's Judiciary in the last few days and we

are compelled to alert the public on the well-thought-out plans to

destroy the institution just to save the job of Justice Isa Ayo

Salami, President of Appeal Court.
This has been occasioned by an alleged move to elevate the Justice

Salami to the Supreme Court.
From the spirited defence already put up, especially in the media by

groups and individuals who are known allies of the Action Congress of

Nigeria (ACN) and its sole-proprietor, Mr. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, it is

obvious that those defending Justice Salami are doing so firstly

because of the “judicial favours” they had obtained from him (Salami),

and secondly, because of the fear of the impending collapse of the

house of fraud built for them by the Justice Salami-led Court of

Appeal.
It is for these twin reasons that the entire judiciary is now being

messed up by Justice Salami and his ilk with the intent that; “If

Salami must go down, the judiciary, or at least, the Chief Justice of

Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloysius Iyorger Katsina-Alu must go down with

him.”
It was therefore not a surprise that Justice Salami went to the most

ridiculous level on Tuesday, dragging the CJN, National Judicial

Council (NJC) and others to court and also accusing the CJN of

compelling him (Salami) to compromise Sokoto State Governorship

petition.
But can anyone blame Justice Salami and his defenders for this

onslaught on the judiciary? Obviously no! This is because in a saner

clime, no one would be talking about elevating Salami to the Supreme

Court. The man ought to have been sacked!
Or how can Justice Salami continue to lead the Appeal Court whose

justices he does not trust?
Against all ethics, norms and rules of the Bench, Justice Salami had

granted an interview that was published in Thisday newspaper of

January 25, 2011 where he tried to defend why only few justices sat on

the Appeal election tribunals out of over 60 Appeal Court Justices.

Justice Salami had said in his answer''…… Then he raised the issue of

using a few Justices to determine appeals. Well, when it comes to that

you must use people you trust, you can't just empanel anybody.''

Justice Salami's trusted men that sat on Ekiti, Osun and Ogun States

election petitions are; Ekiti State: Justices Isa Ayo Salami

(Chairman), Clara. B. Ogunbiyi; O. Ariwoola; C.C. Nweze and Adamu

Jauro.
Osun State: Justices Clara B. Ogunbiyi (Chairman), M.L Garuba, Paul

Galinje (was queried in the Sokoto case), C .C Nweze and Adamu Jauro.

Ogun State: Justices M.L Garuba (Chairman), H.M Ogunwumiju, Adzira

Gana Mshelia, and Adamu Jauro.
It is important to note that Clara Ogunbiyi was in Ekiti and Osun, C.C

Nweze was in Ekiti and Osun, Adamu Jauro was in Ekiti, Osun and Ogun,

M.L Garuba was in Osun and Ogun while Paul Galinge was in Osun and

Sokoto panels and was in fact, queried over that Sokoto case.

Out of over 60 justices of the Appeal Court, Justice Salami only

trusted the above listed justices to handle election cases on Osun,

Ekiti and Ogun States. In fact, Salami had to wait for Ekiti case to

be concluded before constituting Osun State panel so that his trusted

justices could handle the case!
Curiously too, Justice Salami admitted in the interview that there

were conflicting judgments from the Appeal Court under his leadership!

Also, in his letter to the CJN, which was leaked to the press for

obvious reasons, Justice Salami insinuated that some justices of the

Appeal Court are minions or stooges when he wrote; “...and presumably

replace me with his minion or stooge.”
A minion is a slave, sycophant, bootlicker, hanger-on, lackey,

lickspittle, parasite, yes man, servile or an unimportant person.

Those are the kind of people Justice Salami told us adjudicates over

cases at the Court of Appeal – a Court that has the power of life and

death over Nigerians!
Again, on Tuesday, Justice Salami went to the most extreme by accusing

the CJN of compelling him (Salami) to compromise Sokoto State

Governorship petition!
Justice Salami must therefore tell Nigerians who are those Appeal

Court Justices that he cannot trust, and why? Was it that he cannot

trust the justices to act according to the whim and caprices of his

paymasters or that he cannot trust them to discharge their duties in

accordance with their oath of office. And if the trust has to do with

the discharge of their duties in accordance with the laws of the land,

has Justice Salami called the attention of the NJC to this lack of

trust?
Also, if the president of the Court of Appeal does not trust most of

his colleagues as to empanel them in the Election petition cases, what

is the fate of the common man who regards the judiciary as the last

hope? Is Justice Salami's statement not a confirmation that he has a

'cabal' or a 'hatchet' team that have been used to deliver ludicrous

judgements that has made mess of precedence and established judicial

decisions?
Again, who among the Appeal Court Justices are minions or stooges? And

if indeed, the CJN persuaded him to obstruct the cause of justice in

the Sokoto matter, why did he (Salami) waited for this long to voice

it out? Does it not amount to an afterthought and an attempt to drag

the judiciary into the mud that Justice Salami is just raising

accusation on the Sokoto matter that happened early last year? And

when has it become the norm for Judges to discuss matters relating to

the bench on the pages of newspapers?
Apparently, there is more to Justice Salami's refusal to move up to

the highest court in the land than meet the eyes, and it is obvious

that Justice Salami knows that he is going down and he is desirous of

pulling the judiciary down with himself.
Therefore, it is important that the NJC conducts a thorough

investigation into Justice Salami's claim concerning the integrity of

the Appeal Court justices that he refused to empanelled on election

cases.
The NJC must also investigate Justice Salami's claim that some

Justices of the Appeal court are minions or stooges with a view to

assisting Nigerians on whom to trust with the handling of their cases

among the Appeal Court Justices.
Also, all the cases, especially election petitions handled by the

Court of Appeal since Justice Salami became president must be reviewed

and all petitions arising from the cases investigated without further

delay.
Furthermore, Justice Salami must be made to step-aside while these

investigations are being conducted.
Finally, if found to have deliberately denigrated the judiciary with a

view to perpetuating himself in office, and also influence judgments

to favour anyone, all sanctions available must be applied to Justice

Salami so as to serve as deterrent to others and bring sanity to the

bench.
Dr. Adeyemo is the President, Society for Rule of Law in Nigeria (SRLN)