- As Bakare, Balarabe Musa disagree over confab
BY ABDULWAHAB ABDULAH, ONOZURE DANIA & CHINYERE ABIAZIEM
Retired Justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, yesterday, noted that Nigeria will continue to suffer inequity and injustice except people in positions of authority uphold the truth.
Apart from this, he disclosed that the problems of the nation’s judiciary would remain unresolved, but rather compounded for a long time, because Nigerians naturally do not want the truth to be told.
This was coming as Alhaji Balarabe Musa and convener of the Save Nigeria Group, SNG, Pastor Tunde Bakare differed on the convening of the forthcoming confab in the country.
Justice Salami, Musa and Bakare all spoke at the 10th Chief Gani Fawehinmi’s Annual Lecture organised by the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Ikeja Branch.
The theme of the lecture was, ‘Nigeria at Centenary, a Nation under Bondage?’
In his keynote address, Justice Salami who was removed in office as the President of the Court of Appeal, regretted that people who are dishonourable and not fit to be judges, got into the mainstream and made it to the highest level of the judicial career.
“Whoever dares to tell the truth is marked for destruction,” he said, adding that members of the bar who told stories of serving and retired judges being bribed or influenced to purchase justice in sensitive cases often failed to give details.
“The irony of the situation in the Nigerian judiciary is that these same men and some others like them still sit as members of the National Judicial Council, NJC, a body charged with the responsibility to appoint and discipline judicial officers.
“One wonders where lies the hope of the common man in getting justice with these crop of men at the helms of affairs at the NJC,” he lamented.
Justice Salami remarked that part of his ‘sins’ as a serving judge was that God helped him throughout his career to resist all temptations to be influenced by anybody in dispensing justice.
He added: “My conscience is intact and my relationship with my God, to whom I am accountable, is sacred and also intact.”
Speaking on his travail, Salami said that the Justice Auta Committee set up by the NJC to make recommendation on the council’s investigative panel report submitted by Justice Umaru Abdullahi’s panel, was meant to humiliate him.
He said God turned the humiliation to vindication because the Justice Auta Committee adopted a laughable procedure by introducing a completely new dimension to the case without giving him any hearing at all.
He, however, suggested a five point approach to re-positioning the nation’s judicial system, which included that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, should cease to be the chairman of the NJC so that occupants of that office would stop taking advantage of its powers as chairman of the council, as enshrined in the constitution, to abuse the office.
He said each of the federating states should be allowed to have its own Court of Appeal and Supreme Court to better adjudge on respective disputes and appeals on matters falling within their legislative competence.
While suggesting that federal and state high courts and the National Industrial Court be vested with the same jurisdiction to avoid high cost of litigation and delays arising from contentious issues of jurisdiction, he said members of the NJC should not accept executive appointments, including executive briefs during their tenure.
During the lecture, the duo of Musa and Bakare spoke for and against organising conference in the country.
Bakare, who was the guest lecturer, slammed opponents of the conference, branding them as “selfish and self focused” individuals.
He said the conference was an opportunity for Nigerians to return to the dialogue table with the aims of renegotiating and restructuring the country. He urged Nigeria’s statesmen should work towards the success of the conference instead of focusing on the 2015 general elections.
He said: ”If we do not do the needful in 2014, there may be no 2015. If we dedicate ourselves to restructuring our nation at this opportune time, the outcome will be the emergence of credible leadership that will ensure a Nigeria that works.”
Musa, a former Governor of Kaduna State, however, said President Goodluck Jonathan was part of the problems confronting the country, stressing that the conference was a waste of time and resources.
“Any conference conducted by this government will not achieve anything. President Jonathan is part of our problems in this country and that is why we are against it,” he said.
In a welcome address, the NBA, Ikeja Branch chairman, Mr. Monday Ubani reiterated the desire of the branch for a well structured federal system of government.
Ubani also called for a fair devolution of powers that makes for efficiency which he described as the ultimate purpose for the general well being within the federation.