5 December 2012

Nigeria: Salami - Jonathan Asks Court to Dismiss Suit Challenging His Powers

President Goodluck Jonathan Tuesday asked a Federal High Court in Abuja, to strike out the suit instituted against him by 11 human rights activists over the continued suspension of the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami.

The President and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), who are the 1st and 2nd defendants in the suit, asked the court to strike out the suit on four grounds.

According to them, the human rights activists who filed the suit for themselves and on behalf of the Registered Trustees of the Centre for the Promotion of Arbitration, do not have the locus standi to institute the action and to seek the reliefs sought as they do not have sufficient interest in the matter.

They argued that the plaintiffs have not shown any authority granted to them by the Trustees of the Centre for the Promotionof Arbitration to maintain the action on it behalf in a representative capacity.

Other grounds for asking the court to dismiss and strike out the suit: are, that the plaintiffs' reliefs in their application were indeterminable as they were merely academic and as such should be expunged and that there was no cause of action against the 1st and 2nd defendants as they have always acted in accordance with the constitution in relation with the subject matter in the suit.

When the matter came up for hearing yesterday, the plaintiffs withdrew the name of Justice Dalhatu Adamu (the 5th defendants) from the suit and asked for an extension of time to enable them respond to the motion of the 1st and 2nd defendants.

The court sitting before Justice Adamu Bello granted the application as prayed and adjourned to January 17, 2013 for adoption of written addresses.

The plaintiffs had asked the court to determine whether Jonathan had the powers to recall Salami, and also, whether he (Jonathan) could re-appoint Adamu as acting President of the Court of Appeal (PCA) after the expiration of three months without the recommendation of the NJC.

The National Judicial Council (NJC), 3rd defendant in the suit agreed with the plaintiffs on both issues, maintaining that Jonathan had no powers under the law to recall Salami, and that Adamu's continued stay in office as acting PCA was illegal.

"By virtue of the combined provisions of sections 153, 158 (1), of the Constitution, and the NJC's power to exercise disciplinary control over judicial officers contained in paragraph 21 (1) of the part 1, third schedule of the Constitution, the NJC is clothed with the power to suspend and recall the 4th defendant (Salami) without any recourse to the President (the 1st defendant)," the NJC argued.

The council added, "We submit that by virtue of Section 238 (5) of the Constitution, the 5th defendant (Acting PCA) cannot be reappointed after the expiration of three months without the recommendation of the 3rd defendant (NJC), as such the continued stay in office by the 5th defendant is unconstitutional and illegal."

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