18th August, 2011
The National Judiciary Council, after an emergency meeting in Abuja on Thursday, announced the suspension of the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami over his refusal to apologise to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu and the Council after a panel set up by the council found him to have lied against the CJN.
The council, in a statement signed by it’s Director of Administration, Mr. E.I. Odukwu, directed Salami to handover to the next most senior justice of the Appeal Court.
The statement reads: â€œPursuant to the powers conferred on the National Judicial Council in the Constitution of the Nigeria, 1999 as amended, Hon. Justice Isa Ayo Salami, OFR, President of the Court of Appeal has been suspended from office with effect from today 18th August, 2011.The decision was reached at the 7th Emergency Meeting of the Council held on 18th August, 2011″.
The National Judicial Council further directs that Justice Salami should hand over the affairs of the Court of Appeal to the next most senior justice of the court.
Meanwhile a recommendation has been forwarded to the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to retire him from service.
The council did not make any reference to the suit filed by Salami at the Federal High Court in Abuja wherein he is challenging the report of the Justice Umaru Abduallahi panel which investigated him and Katsina-Alu for alleged misconduct.
Another sub-committee of the NJC, headed by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta recommended that Salami should tender a written apology to both Katsina-Alu and the council.
The Autaâ€™s committee also recommended that Salami be cautioned. A letter of caution had already been sent to him.
In arriving at its decision, the council based on the Auta panelâ€™s recommendation, found Salami in breach of Rule 1(1) of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers. The Rule provides: Rule 1 â€œA Judicial Officer should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all his activities. (1) A Judicial Officer should respect and comply with the laws of the land and should conduct himself at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
Salami refused and headed for the court. 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.
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 following as defendants, the National judicial Council; Hon. Justice Dahiru Musdapher; Hon. Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu; Hon. Justice Umaru Abdullahi; Hon. Justice Emmanuel Ayoola; Hon. Justice Dominic Edozie; Hon. Justice Michael Akpiroroh; Mrs. Rakia Sarki Ibrahim; Hon. Justice Ibrahim Ndahi Auta; Hon. Justice Kate Abiri; and Hon. Justice Peter Umeadi.
Three Senior Advocates of Nigeria, namely Chief Akin Olujinmi(SAN), Rickey Tarfa (SAN); Chief Adeniyi Akintola(SAN) filed the case on behalf of Justice Salami.
By Nnamdi Felix / Abuja