- Category: Politics
- Published on Friday, 26 August 2011 08:53
- Written by Admin
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THERE were more protests yesterday on the suspension of Appeal Court President Isa Ayo Salami. But president’s spokesman Dr. Reuben Abati said the President should not be made a scapegoat in the crisis because he only acted to avoid a lacuna.
Abati who told State House reporters yesterday that the statement announcing the President’s action was very clear and not partisan. He, however, regretted the criticisms that have greeted the appointment of an acting president for the Court of Appeal.
The President is not a partner to this conflict as has been described and would be unfair, most unfair to use him as a scapegoat,” he said.
“The office of the President of the Court of Appeal is too important to be left in a vacuum; the suspension created a vacuum to be filled. “Justice Salami has taken the matter to court and he is entitled to challenge his suspension in court and, therefore, we cannot comment on that,” he added.
Abati accused critics of not looking at the specifics in the constitution before making pronouncement. He said: “And the surprising thing is that the people who are struggling very hard to drag him into it are not looking at the specific recommendations in the constitution. They are just making judicial pronouncements and dictating to the President what he should do outside the confines of the law and I believe they do so strictly for their own partisan interest”.
“But I think in reacting to this development all kinds of interpretations, people have been making all kinds of judicial pronouncements, everybody in Nigeria has suddenly become a judge and Mr. President is being turned into a scapegoat in a matter in which he is completely innocent.”
Abati also said if the President had failed to act, Nigerians would have accused him of not acting. “If the President had withheld action on the recommendations of the NJC, people who are criticising him now would have accused him of interfering with the work of the judiciary. “So, the principle of independence has to be respected but at the same time, the President has even provided an opportunity just to stay within the law and to fill that vacuum that has been created. It is the duty of the judiciary, ultimately within the framework of the law, to resolve the matter,” Abati said.
Youths in Lagos under the aegis of the Lagos State Chapter of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, in conjunction with the Coalition of Lagos Youths (COLY), staged a peaceful protest to the United States Embassy and the British Deputy High Commission in Lagos to register their grievances over the suspension of Justice Salami.
The youths, with placards moved peacefully round the embassies. They dropped copies of their protest letters, jointly signed by the President, Lagos State Chapter of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, Ahmed Somoye and Ayedun Taiwo Shanana, of the Coalition of Lagos Youths.
Some of the messages on the placard are “Rule of law, social justice our demand”; Let’s protect our judicial process in Nigeria”; “Mr. President don’t be infected by the NJC virus.”
In their protest letter, the group said: “We categorically state that the purported suspension of the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Isa Salami, is undemocratic, illegal and amounts to sheer abuse of office by the National Judicial Council (NJC), President Goodluck Jonathan and the entire Federal Government of Nigeria. This call is necessary and highly germane at this contemporary Africa history, which is recently marred by mass revolutions and riotous violence across the continent and the Arab world. If this arbitrariness is not checked, the PDP government at the centre will ultimately plunge Nigeria into a theatre of national catastrophe, which may not be too good for the future of this country and entire Africa. We call on your trusted leaderships to help in putting the Federal Government of Nigeria to check and the National Judicial Council in particular so that democracy will not be rendered useless in our nation. Justice Ayo Salami is not found wanting of any crime and, therefore, should be reinstated by the President.” (The Nation)