16th August, 2011
Fresh crisis looms in the judiciary following the refusal of the National Judicial Council to accept service of courtâ€™s process filed by Justice Ayo Isa Salami, the President of the Court of Appeal where he is challenging the recommendation of the council which directed him to apologise to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu and the council.
The refusal to accept service by the council is suspected to be a ploy by the council to recommend Salami for dismissal from service over his refusal to tender apology to the council.
A Registrar in the Chambers of Justice Dahiru Musdapher, however received the service of the court process on his behalf while a clerk also received service of the process at the Chambers of the CJN.
Musdapher who is next to Katsina-Alu is poised to succeed him as the Chief Justice of Nigeria as the Federal Judicial Service Commission is set to recommend him to Succeed Katsina-Alu as the commission meets tomorrow, Tuesday.
Investigations at the National Judicial Council indicate that the council has scheduled to meet on Thursday to determine Salamiâ€™s fate having indicated that he is not towing the apology line.
A reliable source at the council who confided in P.M News averred that If served with the process, the NJCâ€™s plot to sanction the President of the Court of Appeal may be thwarted as the council may then be compelled to await the outcome of the courtâ€™s proceeding before it could take decision on him.
In the suit, Salami is asking the Federal High Court in Abuja to set aside the proceeding and findings of the investigation panel headed by Justice Umaru Abdullahi retired and the recommendation of the panel headed by Justice Ibrahim Auta, who is also the Chief Judge of Federal High Court.
He asked the court to declare that the setting up of the NJC Investigation Committee and its composition were in gross violation of the principles of natural justice, and his 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
He listed the National judicial Council, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, Justice Umaru Abdullahi, Justice Emmanuel Ayoola, Justice Dominic Edozie, Justice Michael Akpiroroh, Mrs. Rakia Sarki Ibrahim, Justice Ibrahim Ndahi Auta, Justice Kate Abiri and Justice Peter Umeadi as defendants in the suit.
Chief Akin Olujinmi, Rickey Tarfa and Chief Adeniyi Akintola, all senior advocates of Nigeria, filed the case on behalf of Justice Salami.
He urged the court to declare that the NJC Investigation Committee chaired by Abdullahi lacked the competence to investigate the petitions against him having regard to its composition
Justice Salami also wants the court to hold 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 that the proceedings are therefore unconstitutional, null and void.
Furthermore, Salami wants a declaration by the court that the findings of the NJC Investigation Committee chaired by Abdullahi as contained in the â€˜Investigative Panel Reportâ€™ dated 6th July 2011 submitted to the NJC and addressed to Musdapher are perverse, unreasonable, and violates his fundamental rights to fair hearing, guaranteed under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right
On the Auta’s panel, Justice Salami urged the court to declare that the NJC Investigation Committee and the three-man panel set up by the NJC and chaired by Justice Auta, 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 can only be exercised by a competent court of law and also, that NJC was improperly constituted on the 9th of August 2011 when it sat and received the report of the three-man panel chaired by Justice Auta and that as such all actions, steps and decisions reached on the said date are illegal, null and void.
On the part of the CJN, Salami sought for a declaration of the court that Katsina-Alu has no power under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) to issue an 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 CJN is ultra vires and in breach of the combined effect inter alia of Sections 6, 232, 2333,234, and 246 of the said Constitution.
Part of the orders sought by the embattled President of the Court of Appeal include 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 chaired by Auta and all actions, decisions, proceedings and administrative directives arising from or based on such recommendations.
An order setting aside all the steps or actions taken by the defendants based on, connected with or relating to the NJC Investigation Committee and the Auta Panel.
An order restraining the Defendants 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 NJC to him.
A perpetual injunction restraining the NJC 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 him in respect of which the Abdullahi Panel was set up by the NJC and Justice Musdapher.
A perpetual injunction restraining the 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 Committees.
By Nnamdi Felix/ Abuja