Law & Human Rights

September 15, 2011

Day lawyers rose in protest for Salami

BY Oamen Areguamen

Stakeholders in the judiciary have continued to clamour for President  Goodluck Jonathan to revert his earlier decision of suspending the Appeal Court President, Justice Ayo Salami, pending the outcome of the suit he filed before Federal High Court in the interest of  Justice, rule of law and democracy.

Since the removal of Justice Salami the struggle to reinstate him has become a mission of no retreat, no surrender for all stakeholders.

Last week, the three branches of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, in Lagos State, staged a peaceful protest over what they described as the unlawful removal of Justice Salami, urging the President to reverse his decision on the suspension without delay.

After delivering a protest letter to the Governor, Babatunde Fashola SAN, who received them in his office, Fashola enjoined the lawyers to exercise patience, as the matter would definitely be resolved through due process and the rule of law.

He however cautioned that it would be prejudicial for them to make comments on the suit since it was before a competent court of law that has the jurisdiction to deal with the matter, and urged them to be optimistic that justice will be done.

“I think the point to be made simply is that the whole process itself depends on the rule of law , there will be no democracy if there is no rule of law and the institution that is often the custodian of those rules is the judiciary.

To that extent I will say your concerns are well founded but as you and I know the matter is prejudice and this mean it is now pending before competent court of law and we, more than anybody else own a duty to live by example to refrain from doing anything that will affect the case. I remain confident that as slow as the process might be it still has the capacity to give justice according to the law.”

One of the lawyers who bared his mind on the issue was the First Vice Chairman, NBA Lagos branch, Mr. Martin Oguleye, Who said that the three branches of the NBA in Lagos are taking a peaceful protest because of the executive undue interference in the judiciary and that their grouse is that due process is not been followed in the matters and the judiciary is been subjected to external pressure.

He said, “when a matter has been submitted before a court every body should stay action until that court decides. The president did not do that rather he went ahead to suspend Justice Isa Ayo Salami.”

Another lawyer who also lamented over the issue was Ify Eziugo, who said the President, should reverse his decision, reinstate Ayo Salami pending the outcome of the judgment at the Federal High court.

The Chairman, NBA Ikeja branch, Mr. Adebamigbe Omole , adding his own voice stated that, “the decision of the NJC was passed on to Mr. President, having been the Deputy Governor, a Governor of a state, a vice president, acting president and now president of a nation suppose to know that when a matter is in  court of law one  must not interfere.

He stressed that the president is supposed to uphold the rule of law and must not be seen to be partial and that is why, “we the body of lawyers in Lagos state are saying no, because we must not allow the people loose confidence in the judiciary.

We want to prevent a state of anarchy, what we are saying is that in the eye of the law, there is no suspension, we are not fighting for salami per say, but we are fighting for that institution, we do not want anybody to come and rubbish the Judiciary, what the members of  the NJC have done is that they have rubbished the Judiciary.

If they want to be politician let them go and join the political parties so that we will know they are politicians. “ He added.