7th September, 2011
For the second consecutive time on Wednesday, embattled erstwhile President of Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Isa Salami, failed to move a pending application filed before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja where he is seeking to reverse his recent suspension and retirement by the National Judicial Council. Proceedings were adjourned till 2p.m today, but when the court reconvened, the matter was stepped down till 4p.m.
At the last proceedings before Justice Donatus Okorowo on the 24th of August, attempts made by Salami’s lawyer, Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN), to move that application was frustrated by the NJC’s refusal to accept services of the originating summons on behalf of the members of the panel which investigated the allegation of corruption and interference against the then Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Katsina Alu made by Justice Salami.
The presiding judge declined to hear the application on the ground that other parties in the matter had not been served and that their fundamental rights would be breached if the court goes ahead to hear that application.
At the resumed hearing this morning, lawyers representing the defendants teamed up to protest the representation of Justice Salami at the proceedings by Chief Emeka Ngige, a senior advocate of Nigeria.
They contended that Ngige’s name did not appear any where in the originating summons and that neither was he introduced by Olujinmi who is the lead counsel in the matter. They also argued that Ngige is not a member of Olujinmi, Akeredolu & Co, which is the Chambers of the lead counsel representing Justie Salami in the suit.
The introduction of Chief Ngige in the matter may not be unconnected to an objection filed by the NJC and some of the defendants who are complaining that the Chambers of Olujinmi, Akeredolu & Co cannot handle the Salami suit since Chief Akeredolu is a member of the NJC.
Salami’s legal team may have decided to field Ngige at today’s proceedings to deflate any objection that may arise to this effect. This position was bolstered as Chief Olujinmi was seen within the Court premises but deliberately allowed Ngige to hold forte.
The NJC and the other defendants in the matter through their lawyers, pointed out that Order 9 Rule 35 (1)(2)(3) of the Federal High Court Rules provides for parties in a suit to be served notice of change of counsel and argued that if Salami wishes to change his lawyer, that he had to file a notice to that effect and serve them.
Ngige, on his part, argued that the only person who can complain about his legal representation is his client and not the defendants and that it is trite law that when a lawyer announces appearance for a client that there is presumption of authority from the client to the lawyer. He further argued that it does not lie in the mouths of the defendants to challenge the plaintiff’s choice of counsel.
After hearing arguements from the parties, Justice Okorowo adjourned till 2 pm to rule on the issue of representation.
â€”Nnamdi Felix / Abuja