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NJC INDICTMENT: SALAMI GOES TO COURT

By NBF News
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The President of the Court of Appeal Justice Ayo Isa Salami has returned to a Federal High Court with a suit challenging his indictment by the investigative panel set up by the National Judicial Council [NJC] to probe his allegations against the Chief Justice of Nigeria Aloysius Kastina-Alu.

 The one-week ultimatum handed down to Justice salami by the Council to tender a written apology to Justice Katsina-Alu and other members of the NJC expires today.

 He ran into trouble when the three-man panel set up by the NJC headed by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta to decide the sanction to be meted out to Salami upheld the decision of the Justice Umaru Abdualahi panel and indicted Salami for lying against Kastina-Alu.

 The panel had while exonerating the Justices of Court of Appeal who served on the Sokoto State Governorship Appeal Panel namely; Hon. Justices Musa Dattijo Mohammad, Paul A. Galinje, John Inyang Okoro, Mas'oud Oredola and Regina O. Nwodo of complicity in the Ekiti and Osun governorship appeals, upheld the decision of the panel and directed the President of the Court of Appeal to tender an unreserved apologies to the CJN within one week.

 The council further held that Justice Salami and other Justices who served on the Ekiti and Osun States Gubernatorial Election Petition Appeal Tribunal namely; Justices Clara Bata Ogunbiyi, O. Ariwoola, Chiman Centus Nweze and Adamu Jauro have no 'issue' to answer as it found that the call logs relied upon by the petitioners lacked authenticity and evidential value and therefore no sufficient evidence to establish unethical communication between them.

 In his suit, Justice Salami cited the NJC, Hon Justice Dahiru Musdapher, Justice Aloysius Katsina Alum Justice Umaru Abdullahi, Justice Emmanuel Ayoola; Justice Dominic Edozie; Justice Micheal Akpiroroh; Mrs. Sarki Ibrahim; Justice Ibrahim Ndah Auta; Justice Kate Abiri and Justice Peter Umeadi as defendants respectively.

 He hired the legal services of Akin Olujinmi (SAN), Rickey Tarfa (SAN) and Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) to prosecute his case.

 Justice Salami is asking the Court for the following reliefs;

 *A declaration that the setting up of the National Judicial Council's (hereinafter referred to as 'NJC') Investigation Committee by the 1st Defendant and its composition are in gross violation of the principles of natural justice, and the Plaintiff's constitutionally guaranteed right to fair hearing under Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and is therefore unconstitutional, null and void.

 *A declaration that the NJC Investigation Committee chaired by the 4th Defendant, lacked the competence to investigate the petitions against the Plaintiff having regard to its composition.

 *A declaration that the proceedings of the NJC Investigation Committee were conducted in substantial breach of the principles of natural justice and fair hearing as guaranteed under Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and the proceedings are therefore unconstitutional, null and void.

 *A declaration that the findings of the NJC Investigation Committee chaired by the 4th Defendant as contained in the 'Investigative Panel Report' dated 6th July 2011 submitted to the 1st Defendant and addressed to the 2nd Defendant are perverse, unreasonable, and violates the fundamental rights of the Plaintiff to fair hearing, guaranteed under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right.

 *A declaration that the NJC Investigation Committee and the three-man panel set up by the 1st Defendant and chaired by the 9th Defendant (Auta panel) being administrative bodies, have no power to pronounce on the veracity of facts or statements contained in the statements on oath sworn to before the court of law or pronounce facts contained in statements on oath to be false as such power is exercisable only by a competent court of law.

 *A declaration that the 1st Defendant [NJC] was improperly constituted on the 9th of August 2011 when it sat and received the report of the three-man panel chaired by the 9th Defendant and that as such all actions, steps and decisions reached on the said date are illegal, null and void.

 *A declaration that the 3rd Defendant has no power under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999(as amended) to issue as administrative directive halting or purporting to halt the delivery of judgement by panel of the Court of Appeal in a Governorship Election Petition and that any exercise of such power by the 3rd Defendant is ultra vires and in breach of the combined effect inter alia of Sections 6, 232, 2333,234, and 246 of the said Constitution.

 *An order setting aside the proceedings and findings of the NJC Investigation Committee contained in its report dated 6th day of July, 2011.

 *An order setting aside the recommendations of the three-man panel set up by the 1st Defendant and chaired by the 9th Defendant and all actions, decisions, proceedings and administrative directives arising from or based on such recommendations.

 *An order restraining the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Defendants, their agents, servants and / or privies and all functionaries of the 1st Defendant or otherwise howsoever from acting on, relying on, recommending or taking or further taking any action or decision whatsoever in respect of the findings of Abdullahi and the Auta Panels.

 *An order setting aside the warning letter dated 9th August, 2011 Ref. No: NJC/f.2/CA1/1/273 written by the 1st Defendant to the Plaintiff.

 *A perpetual injunction restraining the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Defendants from taking any or further action, reaching any conclusions or issuing any directive(s) in any form whatsoever in respect of the various petitions written against the Plaintiff in respect of which the 4th Defendant's (Abdullahi) Panel was set up by the 1st and 2nd Defendants.

 *A perpetual injunction restraining the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Defendants from taking any or further action, reaching any conclusions or issuing any directive(s) in any form whatsoever in respect of the findings and recommendations of the NJC Investigation Committee chaired by the 4th Defendant and the three-man (Auta) Panel chaired by the 9th Defendant.

 According to the final report of the NJC;
 * The allegation made by the Hon. President, Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Isa Ayo Salami, OFR that the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, GCON, instructed him to direct the Sokoto Gubernatorial Appeal to dismiss the appeal by the Democratic Peoples Party of Nigeria is not true.

*The Council found that the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria acted in good faith and was motivated by the apparent urge to protect the administration of justice and avoid breach of peace when directed that the judgment in the Sokoto Gubernatorial Appeal be 'put on hold' pending the investigation of the petitions he had received on the matter. Therefore, the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria was exonerated of the allegation of interference with Court proceedings in the Sokoto State Gubernatorial Election Appeal.

 *That the Hon. Justices of Court of Appeal who served on the Sokoto State Governorship Appeal Panel namely; Hon. Justices Musa Dattijo Mohammad, Paul A. Galinje, John Inyang Okoro, Mas'oud Oredola and Regina O. Nwodo, have no issue to answer.

 * That Hon. Justice Isa Ayo Salami, OFR and other Justices who served on the Ekiti and Osun States Gubernatorial Election Petition Appeal Tribunal namely; Justices Clara Bata Ogunbiyi, O. Ariwoola, Chiman Centus Nweze and Adamu Jauro have no 'issue' to answer as it found that the call logs relied upon by the petitioners lacked authenticity and evidential value and therefore no sufficient evidence to establish unethical communication between them.

 *Having therefore established that the allegation complaint by the Hon. President, Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Isa Ayo Salami, OFR, against the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, GCON regarding the Sokoto Gubernatorial Election Appeal was false. Council decided that it is a misconduct contrary to Rule 1(1) of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 Thus Council further decided that the Hon. President of the Court of Appeal should:

 *Be warned for such unethical conduct which eroded the public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary; and apologise in writing to both the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of National Judicial Council, Hon. Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, GCON and National Judicial Council within a week from today the 10th day of August, 2011.