ABUJA — Former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, who was suspended from office by the National Judicial Council, NJC, over alleged judicial misconduct, yesterday, said he has handed over the erstwhile Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu to God, for not only lying against him, but also for his alleged attempt to pervert the course of justice.
Salami, who finally opened up on what actually transpired between him and the ex-CJN, leading to his suspension on August 18, 2011, maintained that he has no regret for any action or judgment he delivered while in office, saying “a judge must, above all, stand taller than the pressure that he would continuously face in the exercise of his duties.”
Speaking at the official presentation of a book entitled ‘Isa Ayo Salami: Through Life and Justice’, in Abuja, yesterday, the former PCA, however, regretted that he was unjustly treated by the NJC despite the fact that he spent about 45 years of his life in active judicial service for the country.
He stated this on a day a former CJN, Justice Mohammed Uwais, accused the NJC of injustice and double standard in the way it handled the feud between Salami and Katsina-Alu, saying, “It is disturbing, to say the least, that the NJC, whose membership consists of eminent and experienced judges and lawyers, should act in the manner they treated Justice Salami.”
His words: “What was the reason for the suspension? Briefly, there was a disagreement between the then CJN and Justice Salami on how to treat a complaint from Sokoto concerning an election matter that was pending before a panel of Court of Appeal. The disagreement was taken before the NJC. A number of committees were set up by the NJC to examine one aspect or another of the complaint. None of the committees found Justice Salami of any infraction but the NJC, in considering the report of the last committee to be set up by it, directed that Justice Salami should tender an apology to the then CJN within seven days.
“Justice Salami refused to do so, since he was not found guilty of any misconduct. Without the NJC asking him to explain why disciplinary action should not be taken against him for disobeying its directive, Justice Salami was served with a letter suspending him from office, pending his removal from office by the President as recommended by the NJC.”
Uwais, further faulted the NJC for referring the matter to President Goodluck Jonathan, stressing that going by the provision of section 153(2) of the Constitution, the President, has no power to remove the ex-PCA from office adding that “suspension from office is an act of discipline”.
Narrating the behind-the-scene activities that took place between him and Katsina-Alu over plot to pervert Justice, Salami said: “It is obvious that people want to know what the fuss was actually about, and briefly put, this is it. I was invited by the then CJN, Justice Katsina-Alu to his chambers on February 8, 2010, using Justice Dahiru Musdapher’s phone, and when I got there, I met them together (Justice Musdapher was the next in line to him at the Supreme Court).
“He (Katsina-Alu) instructed me to direct the justices on the Sokoto Appeal to dismiss the appeal of the Democratic People’s Party, DPP, Governorship candidate and I responded that I could not do so.