JUSTICE SALAMI QUERIED AGAIN
The swing-and-duck season in the judiciary seems to still be in full swing. Beleaguered President of the Appeal Court, Justice Isa Ayo Salami has been issued another query by the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman National Judicial Council, (NJC), Justice Alloysius Katsina-Alu.
A source in the NJC told Sunday Sun that Justice Salami might receive yet another query this week over two petitions from Osun and Ekiti states submitted with his alleged phone call logs in which he was accused of associating with chieftains of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and some of their lawyers 'before, during and after ' the cases were heard by his court.
The President of the Court of Appeal had, in an interview in Thisday edition of Tuesday January 25, 2011, disclosed that he'd used only those he trusted for governorship election appeal cases. In his response to Senator Iyiola Omisore's poser that the PCA had used a few Justices to determine appeals, Salami said; ' Well, when it comes to that, you must use people you trust, you can't just empanel anybody.'
Since the interview made it to the news stand, Osun and Ekiti chapters of the Peoples Democratic Party have repeatedly accused Salami of having 'a special squad of nine Justices' with Justices Clara Ogunbiyi appearing in Ekiti and Osun, C.C Nweze in Ekiti and Osun, Adamu Jauro in Ekiti, Osun and Ogun while M.L Garuba was in Osun and Ogun. Paul Galinge was also in Osun and Sokoto panels. There are over 60 Justices in the Court of Appeal.
The latest query was issued to Justice Salami by the CJN on 17th February, 2011 giving him two weeks to respond to a second petition sent in by former Osun state governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
The one-paragraph query with reference number NJC/F.2/CA.1/1/99 read: ' I forward herewith a petition dated 7th February, 2011 against you by Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former governor, Osun state, on the above subject matter. The petition speaks for itself. I shall be glad to have your comments within two weeks of receipt of this letter, please,'
Prince Oyinlola in the petition said that Justice Salami's disclosure in the interview that he trusted only about nine of his over 50 colleagues was suspect and confirmed his earlier petition that other considerations other than delivery of justice informed the actions of Justice Salami and the appeal panel in the handling of his case.
'My Lord, no doubt, the above statement could only mean one thing and, that is that, in constituting the Ogunbiyi panel that heard my case, other factors and considerations other than judicial fairness were at play in the mind of the President of the court.
I urge, sir, that his open declaration that ' you must use people you trust 'deserve to be further examined with a view to knowing what he meant by trust and also, trust to do what? This is necessary because every member of the judiciary including the Appeal Court is deemed by virtue of his oath of office to be a person worthy of trust,' Oyinlola said.
Prince Oyinlola also told the NJC to ask Salami to provide answers to his comments on the Osun judgement in which he claimed that not all the votes in the 10 local governments in contention were cancelled.