19th August, 2011
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has described the purported suspension of the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, by the NJC as the height of judicial mischief that has only succeeded in putting the country’s judiciary, rather than Justice Salami, on trial.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Friday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party also advised President Goodluck Jonathan not to get himself embroiled in NJC’s shenanigans, especially since it is now being rumoured that the NJC’s action is part of a grand plot to get rid of Justice Salami, who is presiding over the election petition filed by Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of the CPC against President Jonathan, with a view to stalling the case.
It slammed the decision by a few hardliners in the kangaroo NJC meeting, who ignored the fact that their action is prejudicial and can denigrate the council – and indeed the Nigerian judiciary â€“ just because of their desperation to get rid of Justice Salami.
”There is something terribly awry in a system in which a body set up to uphold the rule of law and protect the judiciary is the same one that has gone ahead to undermine it. If the President of the Court of Appeal cannot get a fair hearing, as it has happened in this case, what hope is there for ordinary Nigerians?
”When a body like the NJC ignores the fact that the case on which it deliberated and took a decision is in court, despite acknowledging receipt of court summons, what does it say of the Nigerian judiciary that has been hailed as towering above the other arms of government despite a few shortcomings? What message is the NJC sending to the international community and the foreign investors that are being daily courted to come and invest in Nigeria?
”It is a sad day in Nigeria, that a body set up to protect the integrity of the judiciary has instead dragged it to the mud,” ACN said.
ACN said the situation is compounded by the fact that while only eight out of the 23 members of the NJC attended Thursday’s meeting at which the patently unconstitutional decision was taken, only five members took the infamous decision to suspend Justice Salami, boasting that the heavens could fall if they may!
The party said Nigerians can now see clearly that the gratuitous promotion of Justice Salami to the Supreme Court earlier, in a clear departure from tradition, was simply the first part of the orchestrated plot to remove him from the Court of Appeal.
”When that failed, thanks to an overwhelming public opinion that was opposed to it, the plotters moved to the next phase, which is to concoct lies against him and make him a villain in a case in which he is clearly the hero, just to remove him from the Court of Appeal.
”A man whom they said was being promoted to the apex court because of his integrity, high probity and great intellect has suddenly transformed to a villain who lied on oath and should be retired. Do they think Nigeria is a Banana Republic where anything goes? What do they take Nigerians for?” the party queried.
ACN said in spite of the action of a few recreant members of the NJC, the Nigerian judiciary still has a crop of men and women of integrity, hence the party urges Justice Salami to challenge his so-called suspension in court, if only to show that he is head and shoulders above his tormentors.