The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has urged President Goodluck Jonathan to call the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to order over its attack on the judiciary.
The party said PDP was not happy with the ruling of the Court of Appeal in some election petition cases.
ACN, in a statement issued in Ilorin yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, warned that there will be far-reaching consequences for all if the PDP, because it is the ruling party, is allowed to use its clout to destroy the judiciary just to serve its own selfish ends.
The party said: ‘’It is not unusual for any individual or political party to disagree with a court ruling. Such disagreement can be vented through appeal process, where possible, or other accepted civilised means. But to resort to downright abuse of judges and the courts, as the PDP and Senator Iyiola Omisore have been doing in the case of the Court of Appeal, is a dangerous trend that can only destroy an arm of government that is widely believed to have done more than any other to save our democracy,’’ ACN said.
It said a clear example of the unbridled onslaught against the judiciary is the published report that the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), using the federal judicial service commission, is spearheading the ‘promotion’ of the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, to the Supreme Court so as to replace him with someone who is believed to be pliable.
‘’The report said while Justice Salami is ostensibly being ‘promoted’ because he is needed to help shore up the apex court, in view of his erudition and courage, the real reason is that the PDP has become uncomfortable with the recent rulings of the Court of Appeal under his watch, especially the loss of Osun and Ekiti states to the opposition, and has thus arrived at a final solution to ease him out. This is very sad for our country.
‘’It is sad because, according to the published report, which has yet to be refuted, Justice Salami was neither consulted nor did he ask for the promotion – as is the tradition. It is sad because President Jonathan’s name is being dragged into the whole issue, as he has reportedly agreed to increase the number of the Justices on the Supreme Court just to accommodate Justice Salami. It is sad because the PDP believes that it must always receive favourable rulings from the courts, just because it is the ruling party.
‘’Worse still, the CJN is said to have brought forward (since the publication of the report), from March to February, the next meeting of the National Judicial Commission (NJC) at which the decision to promote Justice Salami, against his wish and in deviation from the established tradition in the judiciary, is to be endorsed,’’ ACN said.
The party expressed grave concern at the contradictions that have emerged over the issue of Justice Salami’s ‘promotion’, saying that while the PDP took a full-page newspaper advertorial to pillory Justice Salami with the worst and crudest of language, the CJN is pushing hard for the ‘elevation’ of the same man to the Supreme Court on the basis of his competence and fearlessness. So the same man being savaged by the PDP is the same one being considered for elevation to the Supreme Court because he is capable?
‘’What is happening? Who is fooling who? Have these people, in their hurry to remove Justice Salami from the Court of Appeal, forgotten to tie the loose ends, thus exposing themselves for all to see? Do they think Nigeria is a banana republic where people can be hoodwinked by such unimaginative propositions?’’ ACN queried.
‘’For clarity, we are not asking President Jonathan to intervene in the workings of the judicial arm of government, since that will negate the separation of powers principle entrenched in the nation’s Constitution. What we are saying is that the President should call his party to order, to desist from attacking the judiciary and seeking to influence its workings, as can be seen by the push to force Justice Salami out of the Court of Appeal,’’ the party said.
It said such a move, and the manner it is being executed, is unprecedented in the history of the judiciary, seems to be in bad faith and.also a clear violation of established practice of the nation’s judicial system.
‘’In the first instance, the issue was not even on the agenda of the federal judicial service commission which met in January. It was reportedly smuggled into the agenda by the CJN. Secondly, Justice Salami’s opinion was not sought, in line with tradition, before the CJN muscled through the proposition to ‘elevate’ him. Thirdly, Justice Salami had rejected an offer to move to the Supreme Court in 2008, and is not known to have changed his mind since then.
‘’When these facts are placed side by side with the fact that Senator Iyiola Omisore, has been relentlessly attacking and impugning on the integrity of Justice Salami and other Court of Appeal Justices, without any word of caution from the government or any remedial action by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, it is very clear where the so-called promotion to the Supreme Court is coming from.
‘’We do not know how much of these developments are known to President Jonathan. But we do know that if he allows the judiciary to be destroyed under his watch, posterity will not forgive him, since the buck stops at his desk,’’ ACN said.