By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The National Judicial Council, NJC, on Tuesday, picked a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Suleiman Galadima as the new chairman of its Corruption and Financial Crime Cases Trial Monitoring Committee, COTRIMCO.
Galadima was appointed to replace former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami who declined to be a part of the committee.
Salami who was out of the country when his name was announced by the NJC which is headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, based his rejection of the appointment on ill-treatment he said was meted on him in the past by the judiciary.
The former PCA said he was abandoned by his colleagues when he needed them most.
It will be recalled that Salami was on August 18, 2011, removed from office as the PCA by the NJC, following his refusal to apologise to both the Council and the then CJN, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu who he accused of attempting to pervert justice in a governorship case involving Sokoto state.
The council, at its seventh emergency meeting, ordered Salami to vacate his office and hand over the leadership of the Court of Appeal to the most senior Justice of the court.
Eventhough the NJC later lifted his indefinite suspension, however, Salami was not recalled to the bench by President Goodluck Jonathan until he clocked the mandatory retirement age.
His appointment as head of COTRIMCO was the first judicial engagement he has gotten since he was “pushed” out of the bench.
Meantime, the NJC, in a statement it issued in Abuja on Tuesday, said it picked Justice Galadima to replace Justice Salami who it said “excused himself from the committee as the chairman, after initially accepting to serve”.
The statement further revealed that the committee will be inaugurated on Wednesday by the CJN.
“It would be recalled that the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria, in response to the concern expressed by members of the public on the every slow speed with which corruption cases were being heard and disposed of by Courts, and the need to fast track the administration of Criminal Justice, directed the Heads of Court to set up Special Courts to speedily hear and determine corruption and financial crime cases and forward the comprehensive list to the Council.
“Council approved the constitution of the Committee at its 82ndMeeting of 27thSeptember, 2017 with the following Terms of Reference:-
“To monitor and regularly evaluate the progress and activities of courts designated to try corruption an financial/economic crime cases;
“Advise on Practice Directions for approval by the Chief Justice of Nigeria to be applicable in all such courts across the country with a view to eliminating procedural and administrative bottlenecks militating against speedy disposal of such cases;
“Advise on the trainings, re-trainings and other refresher programmes for Judges and staff of the designated courts aimed at enhancing their capacities to function effectively;
“Come up with an effective feedback mechanism from Heads of Courts to the Council on the activities and progress of cases before designated courts;
“Generally advise Council on the day-to-day strategies for the monitoring and evaluation of the performance of the designated courts and on strategies for improvement in performance”, read the statement signed by Director of Information at the NJC, Mr. Soji Oye.
Meanwhile, other members of the committee are Chief Judge of Borno State, Justice Kashim Zannah, Chief Judge of Imo State, Justice P.O. Nnadi, Chief Judge Delta State, Justice Marsahal Umukoro, Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice M. L. Abimbola.
Others are the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. A.B Mahmoud, SAN, former NBA Presidents, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, Mr. J.B Daudu SAN and Mr. Augustine Alegeh SAN.
As well as Dr. Garba Tetengi, SAN, Mrs. R.I Inga, Representative of Non-Governmental Organisations, Representative from the Ministry of Justice, Representative from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN, as well as Secretary of the NJC, Mr. Gambo Saleh.