- Category: Law, Crime & Judiciary
- Published on Thursday, 17 February 2011 07:04
- Written by Tribune
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PRESIDENT of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami and six justices of the court have been reportedly queried by the National Judicial Council (NJC) over the allegations of unethical conduct in the handling of appeals arising from the governorship elections in Osun and Ekiti states which were resolved in favour of the candidates of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
The affected justices were members of the appeal panel that sacked former Governors Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Osun State and Segun Oni of Ekiti State and replaced them with Governors Rauf Aregbesola in Osun State and Kayode Fayemi in Ekiti State.
Those queried over the Ekiti appeal, according to the source, were Justices Salami, who presided over the panel; Clara B. Ogunbiyi, O. Ariwoola, C.C Nweze and Adamu Jauro, while those queried over the Osun appeal were Justices Ogunbiyi, Nweze, Jauro, M.L Garuba and Paul Galinje.
The trio of Ogunbiyi, Nweze and Jauro reportedly got a double portion of the memo due to their participation in the two controversial appeals.
Garuba and Jauro were also on the Ogun State election petition appeal panel.
Salami had publicly said that he trusted just nine justices of the court out of the total 63.
Senator Iyiola Omisore had petitioned the NJC over the judgment that sacked Oyinlola from office, alleging that Salami and his panel were heavily compromised to deliver the judgment in favour of Aregbesola, while Oni fired another petition challenging the propriety of the judgment that sent him out of office.
It was gathered that they were yet to file in their responses which would determine whether a probe panel would be set up to investigate them or not.
The source noted that their responses would have to be scrutinised by members of the NJC at its next meeting scheduled for April, adding that “with all the things happening now, the meeting might even be brought forward to tackle the issue once and for all.
“You know the NJC meeting is like a court where their responses to the issues raised in the petitions which had been made available to them would be seriously scrutinised.
“It is not a child’s play to accuse a judicial officer of corrupt tendencies or practices. NJC views such seriously. When you see all these Senior Advocates and Justices tackling the case with constitution and other rule books opened in front of them, you will know that it is a serious matter.
“It is after a prima facie case has been established against the affected officers that a panel would be set up to probe and punish them.”
Omisore had accused Salami of pandering to the whims of some politicians by using justices loyal to him to effect the removal of governors elected on the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South-West, while Oni was calling for a judicial review of the judgment that sacked him from office.
Meanwhile, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Wednesday, threw out a suit brought by Justice Salami challenging his aborted promotion to the Supreme Court.
Justice Adamu Bello, while striking out the suit, equally threatened to terminate a similar action placed before him by a Lagos-based lawyer, Femi Falana, should he fail to withdraw same before March 14.
Salami had argued that it would be academic for the high court to commence hearing on the suit, since the issue in controversy had been amicably resolved out of court by the affected parties.
None of the defendants in the suit entered an appearance.
In his Notice of Discontinuance, Salami claimed that “following the intervention of well-meaning Nigerians and stakeholders in the justice sector, I hereby apply to discontinue this suit.”
Controversies have brought judiciary into disrepute –Agbakoba
Former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Olisa Agbakoba, in a statement on Wednesday, has said recent happenings in the judiciary have brought the legal profession into serious disrepute.
According to Agbakoba, the drama that characterised the elevation of Justice Salami by Justice Katsina-Alu was caused by the failure of the judiciary institution and not the personal issues between two legal icons.
Agbakogba, in a release entitled Need to re-engineer our judicial institutions, which was made available to the Nigerian Tribune on Wednesday, said there had to be a better structure for appointing justices of the appellate courts.
“This is the point the NBA has been making, we need to encourage heads of courts to accept elevation to the Supreme Court. We must isolate the personal issues between the CJN and president of the Court of Appeal and look at the institutional problems,” he said.
The lawyer, who firstly criticised the Nigerian media for taking sides without understanding the issues on the matter, also commended the same media, saying “without the fight in the media, he wouldn’t have known what was happening.”