By Chima Ubeku

The Society for Rule of Law in Nigeria (SRLN) a non-governmental organization has protested the President Court of Appeal (PCA), Justice Isa Ayo Salami's planned composition of the Appeal Panel to hear the suit filed by former Governor of Ekiti State, Chief Segun Oni, seeking an order to set aside the judgement of the Election Appeal Tribunal which installed the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate, Dr Kayode Fayemi as Governor, saying; “It is morally wrong and against the spirit of fair hearing for Justice Salami to constitute the panel that will adjudicate over a case that he was the dramatis personae.”

The group, which alleged in a statement issued in Abuja by its Coordinator, Comrade Chima Ubeku that Justice Salami was already in the process of constituting the panel said; “This time around, we will use all legal means to stop the Appeal Court President from obstructing the course of justice in this matter.

Oni had on Monday, March 14, 2010 filed an Appeal at the new Court of Appeal in Ado-Ekiti seeking an order to set aside the judgement of the Justice Salami-led Election Appeal Tribunal, and a retrial of the case, contending that; “the judgement was a nullity having been predetermined and delivered through a panel which has close affinity with 1st and 2nd Respondents”

The former governor, who attached copies of his petition to the National Judicial Council (NJC) to the Affidavit and the Affidavit of Senator Umaru Dahiru and Mahmud Yahaya stated that it was uncontroverted that Justice Isa Salami had been a friend of Tinubu and that he (Tinubu) “has unfettered access to influence the President of the Court of Appeal who presided over the Ekiti Tribunal”

thus denying him of Fair Hearing .
He also averred in the 48 paragraph affidavit he deposed to in support of the motion that; “the judgement was compromised and vitiated by reason of the said affinity especially the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Salami who presided over the panel in particular and Senator Bola Tinubu, the alter ego and leader of ACN and that this affinity created bias in favour of Dr Kayode Fayemi and the ACN.

SRLN posited that; “Since the refusal of Justice Salami to disqualify himself from the Election Appeal in spite of his affinity with the ACN leader, Bola Tinubu is the kernel of the case filed by Chief Segun Oni, it will amount to sitting in judgment over his own cause if Justice Salami is allowed to constitute the panel that will hear the case.

“It is also trite in law that one cannot be a judge in his own cause as exemplified in Gani Fawehinmi Vs Disciplinary Committee of NBA..

“Therefore, since it is not enough for justice to be done but it must be seen to have been done, the planned constitution of the Appeal Panel by Justice Salami must be stopped forthwith, with the most senior justice in the appellate court after Justice Salami assigned the responsibility of constituting the panel.”