NJC orders swearing in of Justice Jombo-Ofo

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has ordered that Justice Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo be sworn-in as the Justice of the Court of Appeal, ending the controversy over her state of origin and marriage.

The NJC in a press statement released on Wednesday, and signed by the council’s Deputy Director of Information, Mr. Soji Oye, stated that the council “unanimously decided that Justice Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo, be sworn-in.”

A petition had allowed the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloma Mukthar, to suspend the swearing in of Justice Jombo-Ofo with other 11 newly appointed Justices for the Court of Appeal because the petition claimed she was getting the appointment for a state which was not her state of origin but that of her spouse.

The petition alleged that Justice Jombo-Ofo was falsely representing Abia State, having hailed from Anambra but married to a citizen of Abia State.

But in announcing its decision, the NJC observed that the binding principles and formulae for the distribution of all Cadres of Posts (S.I.23 of 1997) provides in Part II, Section 2 as follows ʺA married woman shall continue to lay claim to her State of origin for the purpose of implementation of the Federal Character formulae at the National level.”

The NJC further noted that the Federal Judicial Service Commission and the NJC, being federal executive bodies established in pursuance of Section 153 (1I) of the 1999 Constitution are bound and obliged to observe and obey the provisions of the constitutional law of the federal republic of Nigeria, including the Federal Character Commission Act.

It therefore directed that “the legislative, executive bodies and government agencies involved in her appointment to obey the stipulations of the law and the provisions in the Nigerian constitution relating to such matters.”

The council commended the CJN for “exercising sufficient caution, diligence and maturity in the matter, especially in the light of the documents, materials and other information available to her, and for taking the decision to put on hold the swearing-in of Justice Jombo-Ofo as a Justice of the Court of Appeal.”

The CJN had on the 5th November, written President Goodluck Jonathan to inform him that the matter of the non-swearing in of Justice Jombo-ofo, would be tabled before the NJC.

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.


New Chief Justice vows to rid Judiciary of corruption

The newly appointed Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Alooma Mukhtar said on Wednesday that there was corruption in the judiciary and pledged to get rid of the systems bad eggs.

Being the first female to be appointed as the CJN, Justice Mukhtar assured the senate that there will be “internal cleansing” to shore up the image of the third arm of government.

She added that “Corruption is in every system of our society and I cannot pretend that it is not in the judiciary. What I intend to do to curb this is to lead by example and to hope and pray that others will follow.

“As the chairman of the National Judicial Council, I will encourage internal cleansing based on petition.”

Justice Mukhtar admitted that the confidence in the nation’s justice system was at its lowest ebb.

“As I said I will try to make sure that the confidence reposed in the judiciary as it were before will be restored. I will try as much as possible to ensure that the bad eggs that are there … that there will be cleansing by the NJC based on petitions.

“It is sad that the ordinary man in the street now thinks and feels that he will not get justice and this is because of the situation we find ourselves. I will ensure that this perception is changed.”

Justice Mukhtar spoke on the concept of plea bargaining which has become an issue in the fight against corruption, saying that there was nothing wrong with the option, provided that it was done in good faith and properly.

She also spoke on terrorism calling on the the National Assembly to immediately put the law in place to curtail the increasing cases of terrorism. She promised that the judiciary would activate the law once it was enacted.

According to her, the court might be idle since terrorism was not an offence committed on a daily basis.

She therefore recommended that a single judge could be designated within a court to hear terrorism cases, “or at least three judges in a division, instead of an outright separate court.”

“I think this depends on what is before the judge. If the judge finds that there is nothing that should warrant remand of a person accused of terrorism, he will be at liberty to release him on bail.

“But then, I think I will take steps so that we partner effectively with the authority to ensure that unnecessary granting of bail is limited.”

On the controversies surrounding declaration of assets by public officers, the new CJN said that the declaration of assets every four years as required by extant law was sufficient, but doubted if it could be extended to private concerns since it was not provided for in the nation’s constitution.

Salami’s Recall:Approach is political than Legal – Emmanuel umoren

Another legal practitioner; Emmanuel Umoren reacted to the Salami saga going on saying the Attorney General should act as an Attorney General always in the sense from the angle of the law the Attorney General should advise the government on steps to take on certain issues in terms of law.

Umoren cited the instance where the NJC advised the Federal Government to suspend Justice Salami, meanwhile there was a matter in court, and the Attorney General did not advise the President not to go into action based on the advice of the NJC.

Now the same NJC has requested that Justice Salami be reinstated and the Attorney General is saying the he cannot be reinstated based on the case pending in the court of law.

Lawyer blames infiltration of politics into Judiciary for controversies on Justice Salami

A lawyer, Ikechukwu Ikeji on Tuesday said that the case between the suspended President of the Court of Appeals, Justice Ayo Salami and the Nigeria Judicial Council was due to the infiltration of politics into the judiciary.

Mr Ikeji said this while speaking as a guest in Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

He said the reinstatement of the Justice was due to the cry of lawyers and other Nigerians.

CNPP condemns Jonathan for not “swiftly” reinstating Salami

The Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), in a press release, criticised President Goodluck Jonathan for not acting “swiftly” to reinstate the suspended President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Isa Salami.

Nine months into his controversial suspension, the National Judicial Council recommended on Thursday that President Jonathan reinstate the beleaguered PCA.

The CNPP, in the press statement signed by the party’s national publicity secretary, Osita Okechukwu, condemned the NJC’s initial decision to suspend the PCA on August 17 last year, describing it as “crude and unethical”.

NJC suspended Justice Salami after the PCA refused to apologize after accusing the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu of pressuring his ruling in a governorship election appeal dispute involving Sokoto State.

The CNPP called the suspension sentence “the height of judicial recklessness” and condemned President Jonathan for readily approving the suspension and appointing Justice Dalhatu Adamu as an immediate replacement.

“CNPP had maintained since then that the action of the National Judicial Council is contemptuous, scandalous and had exposed the perfidy of the judiciary and undermines the integrity of the temple of justice in Nigeria,” the statement read, adding “it is good NJC reversed itself”.

They maintained that the NJC perverted justice in Salami’s case, adding “we were at a loss where Justice Salami went wrong in refusing to take the orders of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Kastina-Alu to pervert the course of justice in the Sokoto State Governorship election matter”.

“CNPP is of the candid view that Justice Salami was hounded because of the presidential election petition – CPC vs PDP, which he presided over then at the Appeal Court.”

The statement warned that President Jonathan’s “failure to act as swiftly as he did before may fuel the suspicion of double standard, regrettably eroding his image”.

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.





Salami’s reinstatement divides Judicial Council

The members of the National Judicial Council (NJC) on Wednesday failed to resolve the issue surrounding the recall of the suspended President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami.

The consideration to recall Justice Salami follows a recommendation by a three-man special sub-committee of the Judicial Reform panel that the suspended President of the Court of Appeal should be reinstated to his office by the council. It was on the strength that the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Dahiru Musdapher, recommended his recall to President Goodluck Jonathan.

A source present at the Council meeting said that members had been warned not to divulge to the public the discussion at the meeting.

Another source who asked not to be named said that no decision was taken on Justice Salami yet and added that there were divisions among the members over the issue of reinstating the President of the Court of Appeal.

“While some are sympathetic to Salami and believed that he should be recalled so as to restore the credibility of the Judiciary, others who were loyalists of the former CJN, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu were against such a recall,” the source said.

This information could however not be verified as the council declined comments or release an official statement of the outcome of it’s meeting.

The 29-member stakeholders Judicial Reform Committee headed by the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mohammed Uwais and set up by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, on October 14th 2011 had also recommended Justice Salami’s reinstatement.

Justice Salami was suspended by the NJC on August 18, last year after an emergency session of the NJC. He is presently in court challenging his suspension as the president of the Court of Appeal.