The suspended president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Isa Salami, has asked President Goodluck Jonathan to come to town with equity on the grounds that his suspension came amidst pendency of his suit in the court.
He said it is irreconcilable for Jonathan to cite pendency of suit now that he is recalled by the same National Judicial Council (NJC) that suspended him.
Speaking through his lawyer and a former attorney-general of the federation (AGF), Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN), Salami said that his recall ought not to be trailed by any controversy because NJC that did so is a statutory body or a creation of the 1999 Constitution.
Olujimi maintained that the renewal of Justice Dalhatu Adamu’s acting duty for the next 90 days as acting Appeal Court president is illegal and utra vires because it runs contrary to the provision of section 238 (4 and 5) of the constitution.
Section 238 (4) states that ‘‘If the office of PCA is vacant, or if the person holding the office is for any reason unable to perform the functions of the office, then until a person has been appointed to and has assumed those functions, the President shall appoint the most senior justice of the appeal court to perform those functions.
While section 238 (5) says ‘‘Except on the recommendation of the NJC, an appointment pursuant to the provisions of subsection 4 of this section shall cease to have effect, after the expiration of three months from the date of such appointment and the President shall not re-appoint a person whose appointment has lapsed’’.
Jonathan had renewed Justice Adamu’s acting capacity for the fourth time on Monday.
The federal government had through AGF Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) on Tuesday, said that the NJC’s recommendation recalling the suspended president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, is not binding and would not be acted upon because the matter is subjudice.
Meanwhile, other prominent lawyers, Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana and Wahab Shittu, have berated Adoke for maintaining that the NJC recommendation is not binding on the federal government as the matter at hand is subjudice.
They said that Jonathan’s refusal to accede to the NJC recommendation to recall Salami shows that the rule of law is in danger.
Ahamba said: ‘‘Jonathan’s refusal to accede to NJC’s recommendation to restore Salami back to his office shows that the rule of law is in danger. Although he has the right to his own discretion over the NJC recommendation, but that ought to be exercised the same way when the body, recommended Salami for suspension.
According to Falana, ‘‘There is nowhere in the constitution where reference is made to the president on the question of judges’ suspension.
‘’The constitution empowers NJC to investigate and exercise disciplinary control over any judicial officer and there is nowhere in the constitution that requires the president’s intervention in the suspension of the Appeal Court president.
Wahab said: ‘‘I strongly appeal that the federal government should stop playing politics over Salami’s recall. It is telling on the intelligence of the members of NJC and integrity of the entire judiciary. Jonathan should rather tread the path of honour and maturity and approve Salami’s recall.’’