10th August, 2011
The National Judicial Council, NJC, on Wednesday at an emergency meeting held in Abuja, exonerated the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Katsina Alu of any complicity in the prolonged Sokoto state gubernatorial election appeal contrary to the allegations levelled against him by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Isa Salami .
Consequently, NJC ordered Salami to apologise to the CJN in writing within seven days.
The council deliberated on the reports of two separate committees on the allegations raised by the PCA that the CJN instructed him to direct the Sokoto Gubernatorial Appeal to dismiss the appeal by the Democratic Peoples Party of Nigeria and found out that it was not true.
NJC maintained that the 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 he directed that the judgment in the Sokoto Gubernatorial Appeal be â€˜put on holdâ€™ pending the investigation of the petitions he had received on the matter.
NJC subsequently exonerated the CJN of the alleged interference with court proceedings in the Sokoto State Gubernatorial Election Appeal.
The body also held that 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, Masâ€™oud Oredola and Regina O. Nwodo, have no issue to answer over the allegation.
NJC said Justice Isa Ayo Salami, and other Justices who served on the Ekiti and Osun States Gubernatorial Election Petition Appeal Tribunal, namely Justices Clara Bata Ogunbiyi, O. Ariwoola, Chima Centus Nweze and Adamu Jauro have no â€˜issueâ€™ 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.
Part of the press release on the Council’s meeting signed by Mr. Soji Oye, a Deputy Director of Information reads: “Having therefore established that the allegation 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. Consequently, Council further decided that the Hon. President of the Court of Appeal should:(1) be warned for such unethical conduct which eroded the public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary; and(2) 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.'”
By Nnamdi Felix / Abuja