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The Real Reasons Jonathan Cannot Reinstate Salami Now, By Adoke

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ABUJA, May 22, (THEWILL) - Beleaguered President of the Court of Appeal Justice Isa Ayo Salami cannot be reinstated until all pending cases on his suspension are concluded, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) has said.

Adoke made the disclosure while responding to questions at the ministers’ platform organised by the Federal Ministry of Information, as one in a series of activities to commemorate the 2012 democracy day.

He said the National Judicial Council (NJC) had suspended Salami in August 2011 and recommended his retirement but the federal government was mindful of Salami’s institution of a law suit over the matter. He added that the federal government would act responsibly by awaiting the outcome of litigations on the issue, as reinstating the suspended PCA despite the pending litigations would amount to sub judice.

He also disclosed that the presidency received a letter last Friday to the effect of Salami’s recall on 11th May, but this was followed by a barrage of litigations challenging the competence of NJC to recommend a reinstatement.

“Rather than do anything, what the president did was to exercise his power under section 238(4) of the constitution, to appoint an acting president of the Court of Appeal,” Adoke stated. “On the 11th May, the NJC was said to have recalled Justice Salami but the presidency only received the letter last Friday; and the other day, the federal government received various litigations by the way of originating process, challenging the competence of NJC to reinstate Salami. This government is anchored on the rule of law, and we will do the right thing as soon as all matters are resolved in the court.”

One Barrister Wilfred Okoli on Tuesday filed a law suit, asking the court to restrain government from reinstating the suspended President of the Court of Appeal. Filed by Amobi Nzelu, the suit listed as defendants the National Judicial Council, Justice Salami, the Attorney General of the Federation and President Goodluck Jonathan.

The plaintiff is asking the court to hold that NJC cannot deliberate on an issue that is a subject of litigation. He also asked for a declaration that President Jonathan was not under any constitutional obligation to act upon NJC’s recommendation.

He further asked the court to hold that it is only a court of law that has the power to hear and determine matters between parties. In an affidavit he deposed to, the plaintiff said that the NJC had no power to recommend Salami’s reinstatement to the president.

“The NJC can only recommend to the president to remove judicial officers and not reinstate them,” he added.

In another development, the minister assured that anyone indicted in the House of Representative fuel subsidy probe report would be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted, as the presidency had directed him to forward a copy of the report to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for further action.

“Mr. President has just handed over a copy of the House of Representative's probe panel report on oil subsidy to me now with instruction that I should hand it over to the EFCC for a thorough job immediately,” he said. “Mr. President instructed me to tell the EFCC that there must be no sacred cow, and that they must do their job on the report thoroughly without sparing anybody indicted.”

While commenting on the in-country trial of former Delta State governor, James Ibori, Adoke said Ibori was not charged for money laundering in Nigeria. He also said that the London court wouldn't have succeeded with the prosecution without invoking plea-bargaining, as the London prosecution team itself confirmed that it was difficult to prosecute Ibori on corruption charges.

“Ibori’s trial wouldn't have been successful without plea bargain, but if I had suggested it, I would have been accused,” he added.