16th February, 2012
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has warned that growing attacks on judges by litigants dissatisfied with their rulings may eventually cow them (judges) and destroy the judiciary, if allowed to persist.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said danger looms the moment a judge can no longer feel safe enough to perform his duty because of the fear of being attacked by litigants.
It said a classc example of such attacks is the one that has been mounted by the PDP, with the backing of the presidency, against Justice Ayo Salami, simply because he courageously adjudicated in the election appeal cases involving the Ekiti and Osun states.
”The latest of such attacks is the move initiated by former Ekiti State Governor Segun Oni to compel the prosecution of Justice Ayo Salami for alleged perjury, which has led an Abuja High
Court in Bwari to grant Oni leave to apply for an order of mandamus compelling the Attorney-General to commence criminal proceedings against Justice Salami.
”The move by Oni is nothing but a continuation of the persecution of Justice Salami and, coming after a panel set up by the Chief Justice of Nigeria recommended his reinstatement because he was unjustly removed, is aimed at frustrating the recommendation of the panel. The truth is that while Oni may be the front, he is actively backed by the PDP and the presidency in ensuring that Justice Salami is not reinstated.
”Otherwise what is the locus of Oni in bringing the case? Is the so-called perjury related to the election appeal case in Ekiti? Is it related to the person of the ousted Governor? Who is
Oni, as far as this case is concerned, if not a puppet of the PDP and the presidency, both of whom are bent on getting at Justice Salami for daring to overturn their stolen mandate? The message being sent to the judiciary is simple: If you dare to rule against us, you will go the way of Salami. This may signal the death knell for the judiciary if not checked,” ACN warned.
The party said it is concerned about the issue because of its strong belief in democracy and the rule of law, and because it is aware that the persecution of Justice Salami is simply because he
dared to rule against the PDP in elections the party was found to have rigged, in its usual brazen style.
”We are concerned because the PDP’s mortal fear of a courageous judge is pushing it to destroy an innocent man, and in the process bring down the judiciary that many agree has generally availed itself creditably since our country’s return to democratic governance in 1999,” it said.
ACN wondered why heavens must fall because the PDP lost governorship election appeals in two states, when since inception the same party has won over 80 per cent of its cases at the election
tribunals, compared to a mere 20 per cent by the ACN.
”Our party lost governorship election petitions in several states, and heavens did not fall and we did not drag down the judiciary. Why must the heavens fall now because the PDP lost in two states, Ekiti and Osun states? Why must that mean the end of the judiciary?
”Is it not a truism that because of the loss of Ekiti and Osun states by the PDP, and the mortal fear of Justice Salami, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has been changed to now allow governorship election appeals to go all the way to the Supreme Court? Why must the PDP destroy the judiciary and the country simply because it rigged an election and a courageous judge said so?” the party queried.
It called on all Nigerians to be vigilant because once the PDP and its cohorts succeed in destroying the judiciary, their next target will be to bring down the country, if that is what it will take for the party to rule for 100 years.