Friday, May 18, 2012

Salami rejects retirement offer


There is pressure on suspended Court of Appeal (PCA) President Isa Ayo Salami to retire voluntarily. But the eminent jurist has spurned the offer.

Besides, some forces in government are pushing for Justice Salami’s compulsory retirement, The Nation learnt yesterday.

A plot by another group to scandalise Justice Salami on account of age and service years has also been uncovered.

In the last two months, there has been pressure on Justice Salami to voluntarily retire from service.

According to sources, a highly-influential public officer has met with Justice Salami to persuade him to apply for voluntary retirement as part of what is described as a soft-landing deal.

But Justice Salami reportedly asked the public officer to give him reasons why he should throw in the towel when he did not commit any offence.

He said it would amount to “self-indictment”, if he takes such a step, according to source close to the meeting.

Instead, Justice Salami offered to abide only by the “final decision” of the National Judicial Council (NJC) on the matter.

The suspended PCA also expressed confidence that he will be vindicated in the end by the NJC.

A source, who confirmed that Justice Salami got such an offer, said: “I think the voluntary retirement plot was to gauge his mood and determine whether he was battle-weary or not. They are planning to rope him in whereas he prefers to stand by his principle as an incorruptible judge.

“But Salami has left his fate to God and the NJC, which has vindicated him. It is left to the judicial cartel to search their conscience.”

As at press time, it was gathered that some forces in government have ruled out the return of Justice Salami to office.

There was anxiety yesterday that President Goodluck Jonathan might buy into the advice of these forces.

A source in government said: “I do not think the government is going along the reinstatement line because of certain issues. But consultations will take place after the Presidency has received the NJC resolution.

“The government may not be disposed to Justice Salami’s reinstatement, going by developments in the last 24 hours.

“This means that the President may overrule the decision of the NJC, which comprises eminent jurists, and a Justices Muhammadu Uwais, Alfa Belgore, Idris Kutigi, Mamman Nasir, Mustapha Akanbi, and Abdullahi Umar. This is the first time the NJC will have witnessed such absurdity, if it is done.”

Four exit options are being considered for Justice Salami. These are:

•Reinstatement on paper and immediate commencement of pre-retirement leave by the suspended PCA;

•review of the NJC’s resolution of last Thursday for Justice Salami’s compulsory retirement;

•opportunity of voluntary retirement without any condition after a letter of reinstatement has been sent to him by the NJC.

•confirmation of the appointment of the acting PCA, Justice Dalhatu Adamu, to leave Justice Salami perpetually in court to fight for reinstatement. By virtue of Section 238(5), Adamu has served as acting PCA three times (three months each) and the President cannot renew his appointment, except he is given a substantive rank.

To force Justice Salami to quit, a group is working on what has been described as Plan B - to scandalise him.

This group is trying to raise issues about Justice Salami’s age, the year of call to Bar and having allegedly spent 35 years in service.

The plan is to allege that since Justice Salami and the immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, were called to the Bar in 1968, Justice Salami ought to have been retired.

But pro-Salami forces have faulted the argument of this shadowy group.

A Senior Advocate, who spoke in confidence, said: “The fact is that Salami, Katsina-Alu and the present CJN, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, were called to the Bar in 1968. These people should go and check the age bracket of the three jurists when they were called to the Bar.

“And they also need to verify the records of service of each of the Justices.”

The source added: “For instance, the incoming Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloma Mukhtar was called to the Bar in 1967. Are they saying she should have gone on retirement by now? Their plot has been uncovered and it will fail in this respect.”

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