Next EFCC Chairman Should Come From Outside Police Force – Justice Salami

 

Justice Ayo Salami, the chairman of the panel set up to investigate allegations of corruption against the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu, has recommended that the next head of the anti-corruption agency should come from outside of the Police Force.

He made the recommendations on Friday, after presenting to President Muhammadu Buhari a report by the panel set up to investigate allegations of corruption by the Attorney General and Minister Justice, Abubakar Malami, linked to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu.

According to him, the four previous chairmen of the EFCC since inception were from the police, so an opportunity should be open to persons from other law enforcement or security agencies as provided in the EFCC establishment Act of 2004.

Justice Salami believes this will help the commission better reposition itself for greater effectiveness.

Read Also: I Want Nigeria To Be Counted Among Countries That Don’t Tolerate But Fight Corruption – Buhari

“Four successive chairmen of the EFCC from inception, have been drawn from the police.

“Therefore, in appointing a new chairman of the EFCC, consideration should be given to candidates from other law enforcement or security agencies and core staff of the EFCC as provided in the EFCC establishment Act of 2004,” he said.

“It is also important to point out that there are 970 policemen, 114 drivers and 641 mobile policemen and 215 operators on secondment to the EFCC.

“Therefore, an exit plan for the disengagement and other personnel within two years from now should be considered. This will address the issue of no promotion of core staff for over nine years. For over nine years, some of the core staff are stagnant in one position which is unhealthy and is creating some sort of rivalry between the police and the core staff of the EFCC. Your excellency, our thinking here is that whoever you are appointing, other than a core EFCC staff should be in transitional capacity of two years, during which period arrangement can be made for appointment of the core EFCC staff who had proven themselves commendable”.

President Muhammadu Buhari had inaugurated the panel in July and it was given 45 days to carry out the assignment but the time frame was extended further after the panel requested for more time.

Ayo Salami Heads Corruption Trial Monitoring Committee

Ayo Salami Heads Corruption Trial Monitoring Committee
File photo: Justice Ayo Salami

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has appointed a former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, to head its 15-member Corruption and Financial Crime Cases Trial Monitoring Committee (COTRIMCO).

A statement signed on behalf of the NJC Secretary by the Director of Information, Mr Soji Oye, said the decision was taken on Wednesday at the 82nd meeting of the Council in Abuja.

The Committee, which will operate from the Council Secretariat, also consists of the President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Mr Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), and some former presidents of the association.

They are Mr Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Mr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), Mr Joseph Daudu (SAN) and Mr Augustine Alegeh (SAN).

The Committee also has as its members Justice Kashim Zannah (Chief Judge, Borno State), Justice P.O. Nnadi (Chief Judge, Imo State), Justice Marsahal Umukoro (Chief Judge, Delta State) and Justice M. L. Abimbola (Chief Judge, Oyo State).

Others are Gambo Saleh (Secretary NJC), Dr Garba Tetengi (SAN – NJC Member), and Mrs R.I Inga (NJC Member) as well as representatives from the Ministry of Justice among other organisations.

The primary functions of the Committee, according to the statement, are regular monitoring and evaluation of proceedings at designated courts for financial and economic crimes nationwide, and advising the Chief Justice of Nigeria (Justice Walter Onnoghen) on how to eliminate delay in the trial of alleged corruption cases.

Other functions include giving feedback to the NJC on the progress of cases in the designated courts, conducting background checks on judges selected for the designated courts, and evaluating the performance of the designated courts.

Consequently, Justice Onnoghen “directed all Heads of Courts to compile and forward to the Council, comprehensive lists of all corruption and financial crime cases being handled by their various courts.”

He also directed them to designate in their various jurisdictions one or more courts, as special courts solely for hearing and speedily determining corruption and financial crimes cases.

The Supreme Court of Nigeria and the Court of Appeal were equally directed to fix special date in each week for hearing and determining appeals from such cases.

The Committee is expected to drive the Council’s new policy on anti-corruption war.

“Jega Will Go, Heavens Won’t Fall” – Fayose

Voter register
INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega

Ekiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose has described outbursts of the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the possible removal of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega as “mere comedy”, stressing that the President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, could sack him if he wishes.

The Governor in a statement on Wednesday, said the APC should stop acting as if Nigeria belongs to the party.

Fayose said: “By turning themselves to advocates and defenders of the INEC Chairman, the APC and its agents have shown that they have a deal with Jega to manipulate the elections and that deal will be frustrated if he is asked to leave office.”

He further stated that the removal of Jega and any other appointees of the Federal Government was a prerogative of the President, adding that no one can question the action, provided laid down rules are followed.

He said the position expressed by the House of Representatives was that of the APC members in the House, urging the APC lawmakers to rather “pay attention to the ill-health of their party’s presidential candidate, Major General Mohammadu Buhari (rtd), whose whereabouts is now a mystery”.

Fayose described Jega as partisan, noting that “by his actions and utterances, Jega had already demonstrated his bias in support of the APC.

“For instance, how can Jega explain the 80 per cent distribution of Permanent Voters Card (PVC) in Boko Haram ravaged Borno and Yobe States while less than 40 per cent were distributed in Lagos as at February 7, that the election was postponed?”

He stressed that it was on record that Professor Maurice Iwu was asked to proceed on a terminal leave two months to the end of his tenure, stating that Jega was a beneficiary of Iwu’s removal.

“If Iwu was asked to go on terminal leave before the expiration of his tenure for Jega to assume office, what difference does it make if the same was requested of the present INEC chairman?,” he questioned.

Governor Fayose further said it was the President that could determine whether or not Professor Jega would go on the mandatory 3 months terminal leave which ought to commence by March 8, stating that “if the President decides that the INEC chairman should go on terminal leave, what can the APC loudmouths do?

“Therefore, let me say it categorically that the noise being made by the APC and their agents will amount to nothing because if the President removes Jega today, heavens will not fall.”

Jega’s Leave: Why Remove Referee Before Game Ends?

Soni MonidafeAPC member, Soni Monidafe on Wednesday weighed in on the controversy surrounding INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega’s impending (rumoured) removal, noting that removing him would be tantamount to removing a football referee before the match is over.

The House of Representatives had on Tuesday warned against the removal of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the 2015 general elections, which may affect plans for the elections which have been postponed once.

In a meeting with members of the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room, a coalition of Civil Society Organisations, the Speaker of the lower legislative chamber said “certain individuals are not in a free and fair process of elections in this country” asking the group to be vigilant against plans for another election postponement or interim government.

Supporting the warnings, a member of the Contact and Mobilisation Committee, Buhari Campaign Organisation, Soni Monidafe noted that INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega’s appointment was political and tenured and so he could not be sent on terminal leave.

He likened the current situation of the elections to a football match moderated by a referee, asking that “What is the essence of changing a referee in the middle of a game”?

“We are in a situation where this country is on tenterhooks. There’s tension all over the place”, he said, attributing the tension to the postponed elections, which he said was carried out by “false pretense”.

He warned that any attempt to remove Jega “would not be good for our democracy”.

Commenting on rumours that the Presidency was seeking to remove the INEC Chairman before the elections are held, Mr Monidafe recalled that such had happened before, mentioning former President of the Court of Appeal, Ayo Salami and former CBN Governor, Lamido Sanusi, insisting that the people expected government to respect the rule of law.

“The case of Ayo Salami has a similar bearing to what we are seeing right now. People did not expect Ayo Salami to be eventually removed. It was done,” he said.

He disregarded the Presidency’s denial of planning to remove Jega, arguing that they had also denied planning a shift in the elections.

He noted that there were rumours Jega was to embark on his terminal leave on the 24th of March, four days to the election, adding that “what is so important about getting Jega to go on terminal leave that they will want to put this country in trouble”.

Court strikes out case against Salami’s reinstatement

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Monday struck out the suit seeking to restrain President Goodluck Jonathan from reinstating the suspended President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami.

The supposed plaintiff, Wilfred Okoli, had in June told the court that he had no knowledge of the suit filed in his name.

Mr Okoli then formally applied to the court to discontinue the suit.

In the notice of discontinuance filed last Friday, Mr Okoli stated two grounds for seeking to discontinue the suit.

The defendants are the National Judicial Council (NJC), Justice Salami, the Attorney General of the Federation and President Jonathan.

Mr Okoli said: “I neither gave consent, nor authorised that the suit be instituted in the first instance. I did not brief anybody whatsoever to commence the suit on my behalf.

“I do not have any cause of action against any of the defendants”, he said.

An Abuja-based lawyer, Amobi Nzelu had filed the suit on behalf of Mr Okoli, asking the court to stop President Jonathan from acting on the recommendation sent to him by the NJC.

Mr Okoli, who was said to be a lawyer in Mr Amobi’s chamber in June, said he was not aware of this suit filed in his name, when the matter came up in court and parties in the matter were to enter appearances.

“My lord, I am not aware of this suit, my consent was never sought before it was brought before you. I have no knowledge of it,” he said.

Justice Abdul Kafarati however asked Misters Amobi and Okoli to go and put their houses in order before 22nd September, the next adjourned date.
The court also asked Amobi to ensure the 2nd defendant; Salami was served and renders report of service the court on the next adjourned day, September 22.

However, Okoli formally applied to court to discontinue further hearing on the suit on September 22.

In the notice of discontinuance dated June 22, Mr Okoli relied on two grounds to urge the court to hands off the matter.

According to him, “I neither gave consent nor authorised that the suit be instituted in the first instance. I did not brief anybody whatsoever to commence the suit on my behalf. I do not have any cause of action against any of the defendants.”

Justice Kafarati struck out the suit on the grounds that the supposed plaintiff had applied for discontinuance of the matter filed in his name, saying Amobi no longer can argue it before him.

Court dismisses suit to stop the reinstatement of Justice Ayo Salami

 A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed a suit challenging the reinstatement of suspended President of Court of Appeal Justice Ayo Isa Salami. 

Justice Abdul Kafarati in his ruling observed that the plaintiff, Noah Ajare lacks reasonable cause of action.

According to the judge, the plaintiff “has no work to do and has plenty time to waste.”

The court further held that the second defendant, the National Judicial Committee (NJC) is not a creation of the law and cannot be sued.

Mr. Ajare had asked the court to stop President Goodluck Jonathan from reinstating the suspended President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami.

Ajare argued that the suit Salami filed challenging his suspension is still pending in court thus taking any step to reinstate him at this point will further undermine the rule of law.

The plaintiff was also seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants  from implementing, discussing and or rectifying the recommendations of the NJC in respect of Justice Salami pending the hearing and determination of any suit, so as not to set a wrong precedent.

In an affidavit in support of the originating summon, it was averred that the plaintiff is not against Salami’s reinstatement but wants due process to be followed.

The NJC had recommended that President Goodluck Jonathan, reinstate the suspended President of Court of Appeal, who was suspended last year after he fell out with the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Kastina Alu.

Salami suspension:Federal High Court Cedes Jurisdiction to Court of Appeal

 

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday referred a suit filed by the suspended President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, against the Nigeria Judicial Council (NJC), to the Court of Appeal.

Salami had dragged the NJC and 10 other respondents, including Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, then Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), to the court over his alleged unlawful suspension.

Delivering the ruling, Justice Donatus Okorowo held that only the appellate court could determine whether the suit should  be heard in the Federal High Court or the National Industrial Court.

The plaintiff had further prayed the court to allow the appellate court to determine why he was suspended without due process.

“A trial court is statutorily obligated to stay proceedings in a case when an issue bordering on jurisdiction is raised.

“In the circumstance, the plaintiff has by way of a question raised an issue on whether it was the prerogative of the Federal High Court or the National Industrial Court to adjudicate on the case.

“The best thing to do in this regard is to allow the Court of Appeal to determine the issue; the case is hereby transferred to the appellate for determination.

“Consequent upon this, proceedings on the rest issues will not continue in this court, therefore, the matter is stayed pending the decision of the Court of Appeal on jurisdiction,’’ Okorowo said.

In his reply to the application for referral, the counsel to the NJC, Mr Mike Ozekhome (SAN), contended that the issues which Salami sought to refer to the Court of Appeal were not on jurisdiction.

He argued that the issues bordered on the substantive matter “which requires evidence to be taken’’.

Ozekhome submitted that the court could not be called upon to transfer such questions to the Court of Appeal without first considering and determining them.

According to him, it is after the trial court has decided on the questions that they can be challenged in the appellate court.

“It is wrong for the Court of Appeal to come in now because those issues are the very substance of the case upon which evidence must be taken and argued in the trial court,’’ he said.

Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN), the counsel to Salami, had urged the court to disregard Ozekhome’s submissions, saying that the questions raised on behalf of his client for referral to the Court of Appeal satisfied all known parameters for reference.

Salami is challenging his removal from office which was a fallout of his allegation against former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Katsina Alu over the Sokoto state governorship election matter and other corrupt activities allegedly committed by the former CJN.

A panel raised by the National Judicial Council to look into the allegations cleared the former CJN of the alleged offences and directed Justice Salami to tender an apology to Katsina Alu.

Salami’s refusal to comply subsequently led to his removal from office while the case he instituted against the NJC was pending before the court.

No date has being fixed for the determination of the issues by the appellate court.

Court Adjourns Justice Salami’s Suit To Thursday 15th March

A Federal High Court Sitting in Abuja will on Thursday decide whether or not to transfer the suit instituted by the suspended president of Court Of Appeal, Justice Ayo Isa Salami, against the National Judicial Council (NJC) and 10 others to the court of appeal.

When the matter came up today, counsel to Salami, Chief Akin Olujinmi told the court that respondents had just served him their reply in court and that he would need time to respond to it.

But in a dramatic turn the NJC alongside the other respondents in the suit withdrew their counter affidavit and written address in opposition to the application and asked that the plaintiff go ahead to move his motion.

While withdrawing their opposition to the application, counsel to NJC, Mike Ozekhome, lamented that the NJC had been vilified and portrayed as frustrating the speedy determination of the matter and orally applied for the withdrawal of the council’s opposition so that the matter could proceed.

Mr. Ozekhome’s stance was subsequently adopted by other respondents in the matter.

The court consequently struck out both the counter affidavit and the written address of the respondents.

But while moving his application, Mr. Olujinmi urged the court to grant that some questions which he raised be referred to the court of appeal for determination.

He argued that none of the respondents had opposed the referral adding that such is a vital point which the court must consider before granting or rejecting the application.

He also added that the questions under reference arose from the proceedings and they arise from the interpretation and application of the constitution.

In his reply to the application for referral, counsel to the NJC, contended that the issues which the ousted president of the court of appeal seeks to refer to the court of appeal, outside the question on jurisdiction, bother on the substantive matter which requires evidence to be taken adding that the court cannot be called upon to transfer such questions to the court of appeal without first considering and determining such.

He argued that it is the decision of the trial court that can then be challenged at the appellate court.

Counsel to Salami, Mr. Olujinmi on his part, urged the court to disregard Ozekhome’s submissions and insisted that the questions raised on behalf of his client for referral to the court of appeal satisfy all known parameters for reference and should all be referred to the appellate for determination.

Justice Okorowo subsequently adjourned the case to Thursday the 15th of March to rule on whether or not to transfer the questions to the court of appeal for determination.

The suspended chairman of the appeal court justice Ayo Salami had dragged the NJC and 10 others to court to challenge his suspension.