2015 Election: Stakeholders Advocate Financial Autonomy For INEC

INEC-Chairman-Professor-Attahiru-Jega-360x270In order to have a credible and crisis free general election in 2015, various stakeholders have called for a financially autonomous Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to correct the lapses of previous elections.

Various stakeholders made the call at a public lecture titled ‘Challenges of Fraud –Free Elections Under a Democratic Dispensation,’ which was organised by Mustapha Foundation in Ilorin.

A former lecturer of University of Ilorin, Professor Sheu Jimoh, who was the keynote speaker, set the tone for the lecture after he painted a gloomy picture of how difficult it was to organise a credible election in Nigeria, citing several impediments and challenges.

He noted that after almost a hundred years of electoral practices and over fifty years of independence; the country had not evolved an enduring democratic culture.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, who was the chairman of the occasion advised politicians to play the game by the rules and that the security operatives should ensure that people are free to cast their votes without intimidation.

He however lamented that lack of funds for the umpire to conduct election could mar the process. He stressed that if INEC delineates polling booths properly, allow enough time for proper registration of voters and ensure that campaigns are done according to laid down rules, the country could boast of having credible elections.

In his address, the INEC Chairman dwelt on the electoral processes in the country and blamed military incursion as part of the reasons behind unstable democracy in the country.

He noted that various reforms have been introduced since he came on board as the helmsman of INEC, especially in restoring credibility to the electoral process since 2011 elections.

The INEC boss also noted that politicians have a lot of roles to play as it relates to enlightening their agents who usually are not educated on the electoral laws, thereby engaging in acts that could slow down the election process through litigation that could be avoided.

Jega also restated the commitment and readiness of the body to surpass its earlier records, but urged politicians in the country to follow the rules and avoid contravening the Electoral Act.

Retired Justice Mustapha Akanbi and Former President of the Court Of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami also added their voices on the way forward in achieving credible elections in the country.


NBA President Blames Unlawful Arrests For Congestion Of Prisons

The President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Okey Wali, has absolved lawyers from the high number of awaiting trial suspects in Nigerian prisons but rather put the blame on several factors which include arbitrary arrest of innocent citizens by police among others.

Mr Wali, while speaking with Channels TV in Ilorin, noted that judges should not grant the request of lawyers who seek for unnecessary adjournment in order to reduce prison congestion while also lamented lack of vehicles by prison warders to convey suspects to courts among other factors responsible for high number of awaiting trial suspects in prisons.

Commenting on the letter written to the presidency to reinstate the retired President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami by the National Judicial Council (NJC) but which was not implemented; the NBA president absolves the president of any blame citing several court cases pending then as stumbling block in order not to incur the wrath of the courts.

On the issue of the one representative allotted to the bar for the national conference, the president insisted that the bar will not accept until the slot is increased wondering how others could be given higher slots.

Justice Salami Narrates Events Which Led To His Suspension

On this edition of Law Weekly, we found out that the issue of dispute resolution in the Nigerian Capital Market is still one issue still on the minds of lawyers, judges, lawmakers, accountants, stockbrokers and other members of the capital market.

Another issue we featured was the suspension of the former president of the court of appeal, Justice Ayo Salami who is due to retire from the bench on the 15th of October.

Justice Salami spoke about the intrigues that led to his suspension during a book launch in his honour by the Ilorin branch of the Nigerian Bar Association.

The book is titled: “Nigerian Judiciary: Contemporary Issues on Administration of Justice”.

Justice Salami was suspended by the National Judicial Council in August 2011 for refusing to apologise to the council and the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, after a face-off between both men.

Court Strikes Out Case Seeking Salami’s Reinstatement

A case filed by a group of seven lawyers seeking an order of the court to compel the National Judicial Council (NJC)to reinstate suspended president of the appeal court Justice Ayo Salami has suffered defeat at the Federal High Court Abuja.

In his ruling on  the preliminary objection filed  by the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke and President GoodLuck Jonathan, Justice Adamu Bello  held that the group has not shown any locus standi since they have not been able to prove to the court how the suspension of Justice Salami is injurious to them.

He further held that based on the lack of locus, the court also lack jurisdiction to hear the suit.

The legal practitioners sought an order of the court to compel the NJC to implement the recommendation of its three man-committee headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mariam Aloma-Muktar  that the suspended president of the Appeal Court, Justice Ayo Salami be reinstated.

The group also asked the court  to declare  that in line with  the provisions of section 153 of the 1999 constitution President Good Luck Jonathan cannot exercise disciplinary powers over court of appeal justices and in particular Justice Ayo Salami.

Counsel to the plaintiffs however said the group will study the judgment before deciding on the next cause of action.

Re-Instate Me As Ekiti Governor, Oni Appeals To Supreme Court

Former governor of Ekiti State, Segun Oni has asked the Supreme Court to re-instate him as the governor of Ekiti state.

The former governor filed an application at the apex court seeking to set aside the judgment of the appellate court which removed him as governor.

He also asked the court to set aside a ruling by the court which refused to reverse the decision of the Appeal Court Election Petition Tribunal, even after it made a case, following findings of alleged bias on the part of the former president of the court of appeal, Justice Ayo Salami who presided over the election appeal tribunal

The Counsel to the former governor, Joe-Kyari Gadzama, leading 45 other lawyers including four Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), while adopting his brief of argument on Monday at the Supreme court, Abuja asked the apex jurists for a consequential order that Mr Oni should be reinstated as the governor f Ekiti state by virtue of the tribunal judgment delivered on 5 May 2010.

Mr Gadzama, in an alternative, asked the court to order that the Speaker of Ekiti state House of Assembly to be made acting governor.

Mr Oni challenged his removal on the grounds that the suspended President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, who constituted and presided over the panel, wrote the judgment of the Appeals Court that sacked him from office had close affinity with former Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu, the alter ego of the incymbent Governor Kayode Fayemi’s party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

According to Mr Gadzama, Justice Salami was biased and favoured ACN in the judgment and that such judgment should be set aside on the ground of judicial bias.

Mr Oni believes there are good reasons to subject the verdict to judicial review and therefore approached the Supreme Court alleging bias in the matter against the Chairman of the Court of Appeal panel and suspended President of the Court.

Mr Oni told the seven-man panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice Tanko Mohammed that he has a fundamental right to fair hearing and there is judicial bias in Justice Salami’s judgment and if established, that judgment will be a nullity.

Jonathan approves new Acting President for Court of Appeal

President Goodluck Jonathan has approved the appointment of Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa as the Acting President of the Court of Appeal following the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC).

The appointment of Justice Dalhatu Adamu as Acting President of the Court of Appeal expires tomorrow, the 23rd of November, 2012.

Justice Zainab Bukachawa will be sworn-in on Friday 23rd November, 2012 by the Chief Justice of Nigeria and chairman, NJC, Justice Maryam Aloma Muktar, at the Supreme Court.

Justice Dalhatu Adamu was appointed by President Jonathan following the suspension of Justice Ayo Salami in 2010.

Hope dims for Salami’s reinstatement

The National Judicial Council (NJC) on Thursday failed to take a decisive action towards the reinstatement of the suspended President of the Nigerian Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami.

The NJC reportedly reasoned that taking any action on Justice Salami would be prejudicial, as he had cases pending in the High Court and Court of Appeal.

Expectations were high that the council might recall him on Thursday, due to its claim that it had exclusive power to reinstate him without presidential inputs.

Justice Salami was suspended by the council on 18 August 2011 for misconduct and pardoned on May 11, 2012, with the council sending a yet-to-be replied memo to President Goodluck Jonathan to return him to office.

A source at the meeting said though the issue of Justice Salami reinstatement was not originally in the agenda of the Council presided over by the Chief Judge of Nigeria, Justice Aloma Muhktar, when it was mentioned; it dominated the day’s deliberation.

The source said the members were divided when the matter was brought up for discussion. While some of the members said it was necessary to take a decisive action on the matter, others said any action on the matter would amount to contempt of court.

Apart from the suit instituted by Justice Salami challenging his suspension and seeking to determine his lawful employer, both the suit in his favour by the group and one against him by the national secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and ousted governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, were still pending in various courts and at different stages.

The council members reportedly argued against making any moves that would undermine the courts hearing the suits and, by extension, the judiciary.

It was reportedly unanimously agreed that all issues relating to his return should be put on hold until all the cases were concluded.

ACN urges national assembly to wade into Justice Salami’s case

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has asked the national assembly to compel President Goodluck Jonathan to reinstate the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami.

Justice salami was suspended by the National Judicial Council (NJC) on the 18th of August, 2011 over alleged gross misconduct. But the council on the 1oth of May, 2012, overturned its decision and ordered the reinstatement of the judge.

However the president has so far failed to approve his reinstatement saying the case is in court.

The ACN spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed in a statement issued on Tuesday, warned that President Jonathan is sending a bad signal to the entire world by continuing to disregard the recommendation of the NJC.

According to the party, the handling of Justice Ayo Salami’s issue by the presidency has “destroyed the principle of separation of powers as enshrined in our Constitution, reduced the National Judicial Council to an appendage of the executive arm of government and made an imperial President of Goodluck Jonathan in clear violation of the Constitution.”

The party urged the National Assembly not to stand by and allow President Jonathan, destroy the nation’s judiciary in pursuit of personal vendetta.


Court dismisses suit against reinstatement of Justice Salami

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Wednesday dismissed a suit challenging the reinstatement of the suspended President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, for lacking in merit.

A lawyer, Noah Ajare, sued the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Judicial Stakeholders Review Committee chaired by former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Mohammed Uwais over the recommendation to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Dahiru Musdapher, to reinstate Justice Salami.

He asked the court to restrain the NJC from deliberating on the said recommendation.

He also prayed for an order of interim injunction restraining the council and the panel from further holding meetings, discussion and all recommendations for the reinstatement of Justice Salami, pending the hearing of the substantive matter.

Ruling on the suit against the NJC and the Uwais Committee, Justice Abdul Kafarati said the Plaintiff has no locus standi to initiate the action.
Mr Ajare had relied on his membership of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to file the suit.

But the Judge said “with due respect, that alone cannot confer locus” on him. “He can only have locus if he can show special interest over and above others or show that his interest will be adversely affected.”

Describing the plaintiff as a busy-body, the court held that the NJC needs no interference of his to resolve its issues.

“The issue of reinstatement of Justice Salami can be decided without the presence of the Plaintiff. To me, the Plaintiff has no work to do; he has no work to do.”

“The second Defendant (Uwais Reform Committee) is not a legal person. The committee, having been dissolved and not being a creation of the law, the name is hereby struck out from the suit. The case lacks merit; it is accordingly dismissed.”

Justice Salami: PDP says Tinubu is a hypocrite looking for lost relevance

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday reacted to the statement by the leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the issue of the reinstatement of the suspended President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami.

Mr Tinubu had in a press statement over the weekend said that President Goodluck Jonathan’s “tardiness in” acceding to the National Judicial Council’s (NJC’s) request for Justice Salami’s reinstatement is a brutal attack on the golden principles of the rule of law and just existence in a democratic society.

He had said that the President’s action has confirmed the popular belief that Justice Salami’s case is more political than legal. He had described the president’s action as a coup against the rule of law.

Reacting to Mr Tinubu’s comments, the PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh in a statement called the ACN leader “a hypocrite in a desperate agenda to re-shape facts.”

“The desperation of the Action Congress of Nigeria which peaked today with an unreflecting statement from its leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu amounts to a frontal attack on both the President and our great Party and is further confirmation that ACN has a different agenda in the Justice Salami saga than its touted role as an evangelist of the rule of law,” Mr Metuh said.

“For Tinubu to describe as a coup on the rule of law, the engagement of due process in the resolution of Justice Salami’s re-instatement, sketches a graphic effigy of a hypocrite in a desperate agenda to re-shape facts.

“This level of desperation raises a gigantic question mark on the sincerity of the ACN and the integrity of its leadership especially in the background of insinuations that four states were delivered to the Party via judgments that were ‘more political than legal’ to use Tinubu’s very words. We therefore insist that it is high time Tinubu told Nigerians his political relationship with Justice Salami that has driven him and his party to cry more than the bereaved.”

The PDP insisted that “the Salami case is purely a legal issue which Tinubu is least qualified to delve into.”

“Justice Salami can only be reinstated when all pending cases relevant to the matter are fully resolved, and therefore we expect a measure of decorum from all parties, except for those bent on attacking the President to score cheap political goals or politicizing the issue in order to demonize the ruling party”.

“When Tinubu harps on the rule of law, one is quick to ask why he was slumbering away while the Lagos ACN government state threw the law to the dogs in disengaging the striking Lagos doctors; an issue that is threatening to boil over to other states. Is Tinubu playing Nero?

“Can Tinubu recall how many Nigerians were brutalized and maimed by the security agents brought out by the Lagos state Government to quell the Lekki Toll Gate protest? Was that the rule of law?”

Mr Metuh said that “it is obvious that Tinubu and his Party are running out of campaign ideas thus, the reason for the unsubstantiated allegations and outright fabrications. We challenge them to improve on their manifesto and concentrate on selling their programme to the electorate.”

FG will not reinstate Justice Salami – Minister of Justice

The suspended President of the Court of Appeals, Justice Ayo Salami

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke on Tuesday said that the Federal Government will not reinstate the suspended President of the court of appeal, Justice Ayo Salami.

The Minister disclosed this while responding to questions at a ministerial platform, a programme where cabinet ministers highlight their achievements in the last one year.

Mr Adoke, who recalled that the NJC had in last year August, forwarded a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan suspending Justice Salami at same time recommending his retirement, said that the Federal Government immediately approved his suspension and put on hold the issue of retirement since the suspended judge took the matter to court.

He said the President could however not act on the resolution to recall the suspended judge because a court process on the matter was also served on the government the same day the NJC sent the letter to reinstate him.

“As it is today, the matter is subjudice,” the Justice Minister said.

“The matter is in court and no responsible government will try to overreach the court.”

“This government will do the right thing as soon as the judiciary puts its acts together.”

Mr Adoke added that the same misconception that trailed Justice Salami’s case has been extended to James Ibori’s conviction in London with the condemnation of Nigerian judiciary by the “uninformed”.

“The fact that ibori was convicted there does not in any way discredit the Nigerian judiciary because they have used plea bargain in securing his conviction,” Mr Adoke said.

The Minister said that if the same plea bargain was applied here in Mr Ibori’s case Nigerians would have condemned it.

The NJC had on Wednesday reversed itself and approved the reinstatement of Justice Salami, in a decision that promises to bring to an end several months of bickering within the nation’s judiciary.

The Judicial Reform Committee headed by a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Muhammadu Uwais, constituted by Chief Justice of Nigeria, Dahiru Musdapher had absolved Justice Salami, who was suspended last August 18 by the same NJC, of any wrongdoing and recommended that he should be reinstated.

Group calls on FG to prevent Nigeria’s surge into anomie

A pressure group, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) has painted a gloomy future for the nation, warning that except a decisive action is taken to stem the rot in the polity, the country may be heading for anomie and ruin.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja over the weekend, the chairman of the TMG group, Mashood Erubami stated that while the people buckle under the yoke of economic deprivation, joblessness and all forms of social injustice, principal actors in all strata of government continue to display obscene opulence and grandeur.

The group called on the federal government to urgently address the issue of insecurity, unemployment and increasing cases of corruption.

This is coming as Nigeria is plagued by unprecedented bomb attacks, insurgencies, jail breaks and attacks on academic institutions and security establishments.

The also called on the president to limit any form of judicial interference by recalling the suspended president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami based on the recommendation of the national judicial council.