President Goodluck Jonathan has extended the tenure of the acting president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Dalhatu Adamu, by another three months.
A source close to the presidency and the Senate confirmed the development to LEADERSHIP last night, saying that the move is to avert an imminent constitutional crisis following the expiration of the tenure of Justice Adamu on Monday, May 21.
According to the source in the Senate, the import of the development is that the expected recall of suspended president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, may have to wait at least for now.
The National Judicial Council (NJC) have recommended to President Jonathan for the immediate recall of Justice Salami.
Salami was suspended on August 18, 2011, following a disagreement between him and the former chief justice of Nigeria
(CJN), Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, over the Sokoto State governorship appeal judgement and other sundry judicial issues.
But the highly-placed source claimed that the president has acted within the bounds of the 1999 Constitution and must not necessarily need to inform the Senate.
He said, “Yes, Justice Adamu’s acting tenure lapsed yesterday (Monday) and the president has extended the tenure. The president has the right to do so. He derives his powers to do so from the 1999 Constitution. It is there and he does not need to inform the Senate before he can renew the tenure.’’
Recall of Salami mandatory – Lawyers
Meanwhile, prominent lawyers Prof Itse Sagay (SAN), Prof Yemi Akinseye-George and Mr. Rafiu Lawal-Rabana (SAN) have said that the NJC’s recall of Justice Salami and the council’s asking for Jonathan’s approval is constitutional.
They added that it is mandatory upon Jonathan to rely on the council’s recommendation and approve it in line with the dictates of the constitution.
The lawyers stated this in separate interviews yesterday.
Sagay said: NJC’s recommendation is constitutional and it is mandatory. Jonathan is mandated to rely on the NJC decision and act accordingly by approving Salami’s recall.’’
Akinseye-George said: ‘‘Jonathan ought to approve Salami’s recall and then be encouraged to proceed on retirement because of the way the whole matter has been unduly politicised.
“If I were in his shoes, since I have been vindicated and cleared by the high calibre of justices that constitute NJC, I would throw my paper after being recalled.’’
Lawal-Rabana stated that: ‘‘There is no end to acting and Justice Adamu’s acting duty can continue to be extended as there is no constitutional barrier against it.’’
The NJC had, on May 11, formally reinstated Salami who was suspended from office almost nine months ago. This followed the recommendation of a three-member panel set up by the NJC and led by a justice of the Supreme Court, Mariam Aloma-Muhktar.
NJC’s recommendation not binding on FG – AGF
The NJC’s recommendation recalling Justice Salami is not binding and would not be acted upon because the matter is subjudice, attorney general of the federation and minister of justice Mohammed Adoke (SAN) stated yesterday while fielding questions at the Ministerial Platform in Abuja.
He said, ‘‘No responsible government will act on it in the present circumstances of the case. The matter is subjudice. As soon as the judiciary puts their house in order, the federal government will make its position on the matter known.”
Adoke further said that a @lot of misconception has trailed the NJC recommendation. He recalled that in August 2011, the NJC forwarded a letter to Jonathan suspending Justice Salami and at the same time recommended his retirement.
“The federal government immediately approved his suspension and forwarded the aspect on his retirement to the National Assembly and put on hold the issue of retirement. The government appointed an acting president of the Court of Appeal
“On May 11, 2012, NJC recalled the suspended president of the Court of Appeal and forwarded its recommendation to the President. There are several litigations by way of processes served on the president on the issue and until they are resolved he cannot act,’’ said Adoke.
On the petroleum subsidy probe, Adoke said that the federal government has forwarded the report to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to enable the commission carry out its own investigations and prosecute persons involved in the crime. He assured that there will be no sacred cow on the matter.
According to Adoke, same misperception that trailed Salami’s case has been extended to 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.’’ He said that if the same plea bargain had been applied here in Ibori’s case, Nigerians would have condemned it.
The attorney-general also stated that the federal government is judiciously implementing the white paper on the death of Yusuf, the leader of the Boko Harm sect who was killed by the police in Maiduguri. The minister said that a panel of inquiry sat on the incident and a white paper was issued based on its recommendations.
He said that those indicted in the white paper were being tried in a competent court in Maiduguri and Abuja while the Borno State government has paid damages to the family.