23 May 2012

Nigeria: It's a Sad Omen for the Rule of Law - Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN)

They have made up their mind that he (Justice Salami) will not be recalled, so it is easy to organize people to bring out actions to restrain his recall. And then, having done that, they say the case is in court so it is subjudice.

It is all very easy, anybody can do that. It is just a way of ensuring that he is not recalled, that is all.

The implication is that they will not recall him. They have made up their mind and they have cooked up a spurious reason and they will stick to it.

Obviously, because the NJC is the professional body on whose recommendation, and without whose recommendation, the President acts. The reason for that is that it is the NJC that knows that they have the capacity from its legal profession and training to know.

The spirit of the law requires that the President should act automatically on anything recommended by NJC. So what they are doing now is that they are violating the spirit of the law and it is not good for the rule of law. It is a sad omen for the rule of law.

It's a very dangerous precedent -- Emeka Ngige (SAN)

The reason given by the Hon Attorney General of the Federation for Government's failure to act on the recommendation of National Judicial Council reinstating the President of the Court of Appeal to his office is most unfortunate.

The reasoning that there are pending suits in the High Court has exposed the perfidy of the Federal Government on the imbroglio. When Justice Salami was illegally suspended in August last year the same Attorney General did not advise the President that there was a pending suit instituted by Justice Salami against NJC. Now it suits the Government to hide under the cloak of lis pendens to reject the recommendation of NJC.

Who are those who instituted actions to make the matter subjudice? Busy bodies who were apparently sponsored by the Government to file the action.

It is interesting that the Government waited till after the commencement of the suits before it made its stand known. What the Federal Government has unwittingly done to itself is that it has laid a very dangerous precedent. Tomorrow any other person can file an action in court to stop the Government from carrying out its functions or duties on account of a matter being subjudice.

Not a surprise -- Niyi Akintola (SAN)

"The position of the AGF did not come as a surprise. Quite a lot of macabre dance has been going on of recent.

I wish him the best of luck. There have been people before him. I am not surprised at his posture. I saw it coming. An injustice against one is an injustice against all. It is nothing but playing the ostrich."

Chief Felix Fagbohungbe, SAN,

"The President must have been mis-advised. Most of these cases were pending when the NJC sent its initial recommendation on Justice Salami to the President. He (the President) did not give this excuse then.

"It implies that there is more that what we know."

The NJC is the custodian of the rule of law. The presidency can know the house more than the owner. This is the first time the Executive will ignore the advice of the NJC. This is an aberration.

"It is most unfortunate Even if he was advised by the Attorney General of the Federation; the President must have a mind of his won. I will blame the NJC for playing into the hands of the Executive and politicians.

This development has brought the judiciary into shame. We are treading a very dangerous path in this country," he said.

Joseph Joseph Nwobike, SAN argued that is a principle in Law that once a case is pending in court, parties are bound not to take steps to preempt the outcome of the case or render the effort of the court worthless.

"One must understand that that was the basis on which the President was vehemently criticized when he accepted the first recommendation by the NJC.

"The President did not actually accede to the NJC's recommendation. He asked my lord Justice Salami to proceed on suspension until all issues surrounding his case was resolved as against the retirement recommended by the NJC.

"I think that the best way out of this is for both the NJC and Justice Salami to enter a term of settlement in the case filed by Justice Salami.

The term of settlement should include the recommendation by the committee that recommended reconciliation, which will be entered as the judgment of the court.

"It is this judgment that will then be presented to the President as a more tidy way out. The other cases that have just been filed can be ignored because the plaintiffs are not directly affected by the issue," he said.

Norris Quakers, SAN said : "The appropriate thing to do is for the government to act in accordance to the recommendation of the NJC which is the most authentic body in terms of discipline, recall and even appointment of judges.

"The AGF as the chief law officer of the federation must be seen to obey the rule of law. Ordinarily when there is a matter in court, the case must run its full course. Essentially it is either the matter must be concluded or withdrawn before the government can act.

But in this case, suits were also pending in court before Salami was suspended, and the NJC has stepped in to say reinstate him, so the government should ordinarily not delay in doing so." He said.

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