COURT DISMISSES ANTI-SALAMI REINSTATEMENT SUIT
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA - The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday, struck out the suit that sought to bar President Goodluck Jonathan from reinstating the suspended President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, to office.
Justice Abdul Kafarati, who dismissed the suit, as grossly lacking in merit, maintained that the plaintiff, one Mr Noah Ajare, lacked the locus-standi to institute the action, saying he failed to establish the personal injury he would suffer if Salami is reinstated.
Beside the issue of locus, the court held that the plaintiff rendered his suit incompetent by joining the Judicial Reform Committee that ab-initio recommended Salami's recall, as a party to the suit, noting that it is not a legal person that could sue or be sued.
Stressing that the committee was already dissolved having concluded its assignment, Justice Kafarati said the 2nd defendant, not being a creation of the law, could not be dragged to court.
He said: 'The fact that the plaintiff is a member of the NBA is not enough to confer locus on him. He has failed to show a special legal right or prove to this court that he has greater interest in the matter, over and above every other Nigerian.
'Moreover, the issue of removal or reinstatement of Salami as President of the Court of Appeal can be effectively decided without the appearance of the plaintiff. Having gone through the processes before this court, it appears to me that the plaintiff does not have any work to do. The plaintiff cannot be said to have established any cause of action against the defendants, the case lacks merit and it is accordingly dismissed.'
It would be recalled that barely 24-hours after the National Judicial Council, NJC, recommended the reinstatement of Justice Salami who it ousted from office on August 18, 2011, the plaintiff, approached the High Court, urging it to invoke its powers and abort any move by President Jonathan to accede to the NJC request.
While challenging the powers of the judicial body to make such recommendation despite the pendency of suits challenging relating to the suspension of Justice Salami, before competent court of jurisdiction, the plaintiff, contended that any action taken by President Jonathan on the matter would not only amount to subjudice but equally constitute a deliberate affront on the statutory duties of the judiciary.
Listed as defendants in the suit were the NJC and the Judicial Reform Committee which was constituted by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, with a view to resolving all the crisis trailing the suspension of Justice Salami vis-Ã -vis the impasse that had existed between the PCA and the erstwhile CJN, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu.
In an originating summons he filed before the court, Ajare, specifically sought a declaration that all the meetings, discussions and recommendations for the reinstatement of Salami by the President, on the recommendations of the NJC, was illegal, unconstitutional, null and void, as the matter is subjudice.
Even as he beseeched the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their servants, agents or privies from implementing, discussing and or rectifying the recommendations of the NJC in respect of Justice Salami pending the hearing and determination of pending court actions so as not to create a wrong precedent.
The plaintiff who identified himself as a member of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, maintained that he was not against the reinstatement of Salami, but wanted the due process of the law to be followed in order not to set an unhealthy precedent capable of sustaining such uncanny controversies in the future.
He argued that the matter was no longer personal for the original parties involved, saying it has assumed a national dimension with global attention and as such entails that caution must be observed.
The plaintiff had insisted that if there was no extant order of the court, the 1stdefendant, Jonathan, may pre-empt the due process of the court.
According to him, the face-off between the former CJN and the PCA, shook the entire judiciary to its very foundation and climaxed when the PCA instituted a court action against the then CJN at the Federal High Court, saying there was a grave concern among Nigerians particularly at the Bar, concerning the integrity of the judiciary.
Describing the judiciary as the most sacred arm of the three arm of government, the plaintiff, contended that as the last hope of the common man, its sacredness ought to be preserved through the instrumentality of the law and due process.
Meanwhile, it was on the basis of the suit that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, on May 22, expressed resolve of President Jonathan to ignore the NJC recommendation and await the outcome of all the pending litigations.
However, ruling on the suit yesterday, Justice Kafarati, upheld a preliminary objection that was raised against the competence of the suit by the NJC.