Battle Of The Justices As Salami And Kastina-Alu Rumble
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 05, (THEWILL) – The faceoff between the two top heads of the Nigerian Judiciary has finally hit the headlines.
The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami has accused the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu of using ‘unholy move’ ‘to push’ him out of the Court of Appeal.
In a letter dated February 04, 2011 addressed to the CJN, Justice Salami questioned the manner in which the CJN elevated him to the Supreme Court saying he is ‘contented with being the President of the Court of Appeal.’
Justice Salami said the move was a confirmation of rumours that had been circulating that the CJN was planning to remove him as head of the Court of Appeal in order to appoint a stooge that would do his bidding.
The Appeal Court President’s letter to the CJN reads: “A few months ago, I heard of rumours going round that plans have been hatched in certain quarters to remove me from the post of President of the Court of Appeal. My reaction then was to dismiss these rumours as the talk shop gossip emanating from idle gossipers or mischief-makers.
“Regretfully enough a few days ago, precisely on 2nd February, 2011 when I returned to Abuja from Ilorin where I had gone to attend the 8th day Fidau prayer of an aunt, information got to me that at the meeting of the Federal Judicial Service Commission held on 1st and 2nd February 2011, what was thought to be a rumour became a subject of serious discussion initiated by the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria.
“I was given to understand that even though the subject was not part of the agenda of the day, Your Lordship characteristically informed honourable members of the Council of your proposal to strengthen the Supreme Court by moving me to the Court and presumably to replace with your minion or stooge. It was sadly not deemed fit and proper to discuss the proposal with me.
“Perhaps, my view did not count for anything. Neither was it expedient or decorous to place such an important matter on the agenda. No council paper was substituted.
“Interestingly, however, it was alleged that in giving reasons for this disturbing action, the CJN said that the appointment would add value to the Supreme Court. He further assured Council members that I would not lose my seniority. I regret to say that I am not taken in.
“I am contented with being the President of the Court of Appeal. Indeed it is common knowledge that I had even in a more auspicious moment, declined for good reasons to be appointed to the Supreme Court. Nothing has changed since then. I prefer to remain in the Court of Appeal to continue to give service to the nation to the best of my ability.
“Finally, I prefer to follow in the wake of my worthy predecessors who inspite of their experiences retired as President of the Court of Appeal with their honour and reputation unsullied. The present unholy move to push me out of the Court of Appeal for whatever reason has no precedent in our legal history. I do not therefore think that it will be fair for the Chief Justice of Nigeria to seek to create a dangerous precedent which may give rise to chained reactions.
“Needless to say that the environment is already over heated and in a state of flux. Let no one do anything to disrupt the status quo. Nigeria is after all greater than all of us.
“I remain loyal and committed to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the oath of my office,” Justice Salami wrote.
THEWILL gathered that the friction between Justice Salami and Justice Katsina-Alu has been ongoing for a while, elevating in December 2009, after they were both sworn into their various offices.
The gridlock in the judiciary was first noticed in the Sokoto State Governorship election matter.