BY EMMAN OVUAKPORIE & OKEY NDIRIBE
ABUJA-FORMER Governor of Lagos State, Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Thursday said the embattled former President of Appeal Court, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, was sacrificed to instil fears in other judges to do the bidding of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP.
This came as former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, predicted that Nigeria’s democracy might collapse if Nigerians allowed the judicial arm of government to become completely compromised.
Speaking at the annual award ceremony of the Leadership newspapers, tagged: “2011 Elections: How credible,” where he was conferred with the Leadership Man of the Year award, Tinubu said the post-election crises that enveloped the judiciary called for a lot of thinking as democracy was fast eroding in Nigeria.
He said: ”The most glaring example of this has been the government’s attempt to cut short the career of one of our illustrious jurists, Court of Appeal President, Isa Salami. What was his crime? Because he refused to put his sense of justice for sale.
“For this they tarnished his name and plot to end his career and rumoured that he is in the pockets of the Action Congress of Nigeria, AC N. This is a terrible lie against a good man. His verdicts were not for AC N, they were for justice.
“However, those in power could not tolerate his impartiality and they sacrificed one of Nigeria’s finest jurists to send a blunt message to other jurists: go against our wishes and you shall lose those robes you dear.
“Given this example, no other jurists dare cross their assumed master and our courts have become islands of confusion as judges balance their conscience against their career as we are seeing judicial verdicts in some states that are odd after overturning several 2007 elections.
On electoral fairness
On electoral fairness, Tinubu said: “We must not relent in our struggle for electoral reforms as the Justice Uwais report contains a fine blue print enumerating 83 recommendations which dealt with the independence of the electoral commission and creating an electoral process less vulnerable to manipulation.
“The beauty of of democracy lies in the power it confers on the citizenry to elect the leader they want or reject those who have failed them.
“The ruling party, PDP, has always pilfered votes through brute force or brazen fraud to secure its victories. The 2003 elections were bad but what came next in 2007 was worse because by 2007 the public was eager to wave goodbye to Obasanjo but he and his cronies were not ready to give free rein to the will of the people.
“They snatched the peoples’ mandate from their very hands and commandeered election materials as phantom results were announced at polling stations and this electoral pilferage prevented serious opposition parties from going into post electoral hibernation as was usually the case.”
Buhari predicts collapse of democracy
Meanwhile, former military Head of State Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, took a look at the nation’s judiciary, yesterday, and predicted that Nigeria’s democracy would collapse if Nigerians allowed the judicial arm of government, charged with the responsibility of interpreting the nation’s laws, to become completely compromised.
He made this prediction while speaking on behalf of award recipients at the Leadership Newspaper Awards, in Abuja.
Commenting further on happenings within the judiciary in recent times, he lamented that that the election petition which he filed against the victory of President Goodluck Jonathan in the April 2011 general election before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal might be affected negatively with the suspension of the former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami and his replacement with another judge in an acting capacity.
Going down memory lane, Buhari recalled how long the petition he filed against the victory of former President Olusegun Obasanjo during the 2003 Presidential election lingered before judgement was delivered against him (Buhari) in the case, adding that a similar situation took place after the 2007 election when he also challenged the victory of the late President Umar Yar’Adua in court.
Buhari also threw a challenge at the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to account for the N100 billion allocated to it for the purpose of conducting the last voters registration early this year.