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NJC report on the rift between CJN and Court of Appeal president

In fact, having gone through the petitions over, happily nowhere is allegations of financial impropriety made against me or any of the respectable and honourable gentlemen who sat on the appeal unlike in Uba’s case where huge sums of money were alleged to have been given to the Justices.

Nevertheless, your predecessor in office in his wisdom, allow the judgment to be delivered. He did not rush to conclusion in the manner you are doing. I will appeal to Your Lordship to make haste gently, otherwise Your Lordship may wittingly or unwittingly bring the Judiciary into gross disrepute.

Moreover, there is no scintilla of evidence that I met any member of the Appellants. Neither is there such evidence against the Justices. All we have is that the Respondents unconstitutionally breach or invaded our right to privacy and unlawfully recorded our discussions .

Justice Ayo Isa Salami and Justice Aloysius Katsina Alu

The piece of evidence violated our right of privacy in the Constitution. They were also obtained without first administering caution on us. Are these admissible evidence? I thought this should have agitated the mind of Your Lordship before placing store on the evidence as the Chief Justice of Nigeria who is required to defend the Judiciary.

Quo Bono. The question is what is the -locus standi of the Independent National Electoral Commission in this matter. The appellants are not challenging the conduct of the election.

What is in issue here is that the appellants are contesting qualification or otherwise of Wammakko. It is therefore incumbent on the candidate to establish his status, it is not INEC to plunge into the fray on the side of one of the candidates whom INEC itself agree was not qualified to contest the election.

Dismissing the appeal

Meanwhile, I wish to remind Your Lordship that you, on 8th February, 2010 invited me to Your Lordship’s Chambers to request me to instruct the Justices to dismiss the appeal. Your Lordship told me that was what the Supreme Court did in Amechi’s case.

Dahiru Musdapher JSC was there. I rejected Your Lordship’s entreaties. Thereafter, petitions emerged in Your Lordship’s Chambers on 8th February, 2010. On 16th February, 2010, you invited me to your Chambers and gave me to read the petition written by Mr. Yahaya Mahmood.

After reading, you asked if I would not disband the panel. I told Your Lordship I would discuss it with the panel, a suggestion Your Lordship did not appreciate, and you made it clear, and asked me to just disband them and report back to you. I have not reported back to you to date.

The carefully orchestrated pressure was intended to, make me falter but I thank Almighty Allah that I have not succumbed. If I had faltered you would not be there for me.

In view of all the above, I do not think that I am in a position to carry out Your Lordship’s order to stop the appeal pending the determination of the investigation of “serious allegation” made against me and the Justices in the two petitions.

No responsible tribunal will consider the contents of the two documents to amount to serious indictment. In any case, Your Lordship in an unprecedented manner have taken over the running of the Court of Appeal.

You have unilaterally made the order, which I respectfully consider unlawful to stop the judgment. It would have caused me virtually nothing if I had surrendered to Your Lordship’s requests which constitute, in my respectful view, dangerous precedent for which I would have stood condemned before posterity. We should not allow it to happen in our time”.

4.02.4 To have a complete picture, it will help if the Chief Justice of Nigeria’s response to the President, Court of Appeal’s allegations is also set out. In a sworn. affidavit dated 07/03/2011, particularlly in paragraphs 6 and 7 of the affidavit, the Chief Justice of Nigeria deposed as follows:- “6.

That all the aforementioned petitions written against me are in respect of the Sokoto State Gubernatorial Election Petition Appeal and my Date of Birth.

7. That for record purposes and setting the facts right, I hereby state as follows:-

i) That I did not at any time whatsoever interfere in any form or manner with the Sokoto State Gubernatorial- Election Petition Appeal.

ii) That at some stage, while the appeal was pending at the Court of Appeal, in my capacity as the Chairman of the National Judicial Council, I received written Petitions addressed to me pertaining the said appeal.

iii) That one of the complaints in the -petitions was that the judgment about to be delivered by the Court of Appeal in respect of the Sokoto State Gubernatorial Election Petition Appeal had leaked.

iv) That I called Honourable Justice Dahiru Musdapher, the next most senior Justice of the Supreme Court and Deputy Chairman, National Judicial Council to my Chambers and showed him the petitions and sought for his advice on how the matter could be handled.

v) That Honourable Justice Dahiru Musdapher suggested that we call the Hon. President of the Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Ayo Isa Salami to inform him of the petitions.

vi) That I therefore, called the Hon. President of the Court of Appeal by telephone to come to my Chambers

vii) That when the Hon. President of the Court of Appeal came to my Chambers, in the presence of Hon. Justice Dahiru Musdapber, I told him I had received a complaint that the judgment to be delivered in respect of the Sokoto State Gubernatorial Election Petition Appeal had leaked.

viii) That the Hon. President of the Court of Appeal, Justice I. A. Salami, OFR, admitted that the judgment had leaked

ix) That I showed him the petitions I had received in respect of the Sokoto State Gubernatorial Election Petition Appeal and told him that the only way to maintain the integrity of the Court was to reconstitute the panel, as that was the proper cause of action to take.

x) That I even reminded him that his predecessor in office, Honourable Justice Umaru Abdullahi, CON, had a similar problem in the Court of Appeal, Kaduna Division and had to disband and re-constitute another Panel which was presided over by Hon. Justice Isa Ayo Salami, OFR, himself.

xi) That after our advice to Hon. Justice Salami, he left us with the impression that he would disband the Panel, having admitted that the judgment had leaked.

xii) That when Hon. Justice Salami did not revert to me on the matter, I decided to forward the petitions to him and other members of the Panel for their reaction.

xiii) That I had at no time whatsoever met with the President of the Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Ayo Isa Salami alone, privately or officially to discuss the Sokoto State Gubernatorial Petition Appeal.

xiv) That I was at all material times in the company of Hon. Justice Dahiru Musdapher.

xv) That at no time whatsoever did I request the President of the Court of Appeal to instruct the Sokoto Gubernatorial Petition Appeal Panel to ‘dismiss’ the appeal.

xvi) That .as a Judicial Officer of many years standing, I know as a fact and as a matter of law that .any such .instruction was not within the purview of my Constitutional powers.

xvii) That the only steps I took in my capacity as the Chairman, National Judicial Council, was to direct, vide letter No. NJCICAfDMlIV/48 of 19th February, 2010, that the judgment that was to be delivered in the Sokoto Gubernatorial Election Petition Appeal ‘be put on hold’ pending the investigation of the petitions I had received.

That I did not, in the letter under reference, direct the Panel on the Sokoto Gubernatorial Election Petition Appeal not to deliver judgment.

xviii)That as regards to the Sokoto Gubernatorial Election Petition Appeal that was before’ the Supreme Court of Nigeria , I was neither on the Panel nor did I direct the Panel on the judgment to give .

xix) That when Hon. Justice I.A. Salami sent his response to the Petitions and the allegations against him, the National Judicial Council could not deliberate on same because the matter was sub-judice.”

4.02.5 The President of the Court of Appeal responded to the Chief Justice of Nigeria’s affidavit by swearing to another affidavit dated 31/03/11. It is helpful to reproduce the relevant paragraphs of the President, Court of Appeal’s affidavit.

4) That with reference to paragraph 7i – xix of the said affidavit I state as follows:

i) That it is true that Honourable Justice Dahiru Musdapher was present when the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria called me to his office on the 8th day of February, 2010 in respect of Sokoto State Gubernatorial Election petition Appeal;

ii) That I was not a member of the panel of Honourable Justices of the Court of Appeal that heard the Sokoto State Gubernatorial Appeal;

iii) That to my knowledge, there was no allegation of judgment leakage and no judgment, whether actual or leaked was shown to me by the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria;

To be continued


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