Hopes of the embattled President of the Court of Appeal, PCA, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, returning to office a year and seven months after he was suspended by the National Judicial Council, NJC, were yesterday, dashed by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
The Council had on August 18, 2011, ordered Salami to proceed on an indefinite suspension on the ground that he was found guilty of judicial misconduct.
He was accused of lying on oath against a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu.
Salami had in the wake of a feud that ensued between him and the ex-CJN, alleged via an affidavit he deposed before the high court that Katsina-Alu pressurised him to pervert justice in a gubernatorial election appeal dispute involving Sokoto State.
However, the NJC, after a stormy session it held on August 18, cleared the former CJN, even as it axed Salami for violating the code of conduct for judicial officers in the country.
Nevertheless, the Council had since then okayed him to return to office, a move that was vehemently opposed by President Jonathan who insisted that re-instating Salami within the pendency of legal actions revolving around his suspension would amount to sub-judice.
Meanwhile, in its judgment, yesterday, the high court not only struck out the suit that sought for his immediate re-instatement, but also divested itself of the jurisdiction to grant any of the reliefs pleaded by the plaintiffs.
Presiding Justice Adamu Bello maintained that the plaintiffs, 11 legal practitioners who approached the court under the aegis of the Registered Trustees of Centre for the Promotion of Arbitration, were bereft of the locus-standi to seek for Salami’s recall.
The Judge stressed that in the eyes of the law, only the suspended PCA had the requisite locus to ask the court to return him to office, saying, “he is the only one whose right was directly affected by the action of the 3rd defendant, NJC.”
Though both the NJC and Justice Salami himself, had in their separate written addresses, implored the court to go ahead and grant all the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs, Justice Bello held that “the fact that the 3rd and 4th defendants, NJC and Salami, supported the suit, did not in any way add any value to enhance the locus-standi of the plaintiffs.
“The mere fact that they are legal practitioners that took oath to protect the constitution at all times does not cloak them with the locus to file this action.
“On that basis, this court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain this suit and the proper order in the circumstance is to strike out the suit. I, therefore, make an order striking out the suit and I make no order as to cost,” he added.