Salami: Please be objective and rational

Justice Ayo Salami, is only a hero when he is being assess from the viewpoints of the opposition parties, activists and to some extent the umbrella body of Nigerian Lawyers – the NBA. The man now bears the tag name of Mr. Clean in the Judiciary; while not taking anything away from him, I dare to ask "how clean, is he?"

For long we bury the truths about the decays rampaging the judicial system in the country. Now the shame is staring us all in the face. Every time a clear case of injustice is done, dubious legal practitioners bamboozle us with tales of lack of circumstantial evidences. Before our eyes, this legal system freed James Ibori and his associates from all corruption charges when EFCC charged him to court. Today, we all know better. The same judiciary that freed Ibori, also adopted delay tactics in allowing EFCC challenge the High court judgment in the Appeal court. Ironically, the Appeal courts is under the headship of our now Mr. Clean, Justice Ayo Salami. Interestingly, this judiciary we are told not to ridicule, gave the erstwhile governor of River State, Dr. Peter Odilli, what was termed ‘perpetual injunction', restraining EFCC or any anti-corruption agency from arresting him. What is painful is that our judicial system that evidently protect the rich and powerful in our society, have left thousands of indigent Nigerians languishing in detention without trials. Their excuses, is that there are many cases for the judges to handle. So how comes these same judges have ample time to handle cases involving high profile personalities and quickly dispose of them?

We have lost it; those calling for a sovereign national conference should be giving the audience. All the three tiers of governments in Nigeria, are in various levels of decays. None deserve to remain the way they are. We need to sit down and talk to ourselves; honestly we cannot continue to ‘manage' this country. The Arab youths have already proved to the rest of black Africans, why change is inevitable. Without addressing our obvious flaws, this country will continue to survive on borrow time.

The recent report of an independence research on EFCC, accused the organisation of failing to get enough convictions in high profile corruption cases. For me, the report would have been more objective if it had gone further to reveal to Nigerians how our judges and lawyers (particularly the senior ones at the bar) aid our corrupt political leaders to escape justice by using legal terminologies and dictum to cover their tracks. Many of our senior lawyers became stupendously rich from the windfall they get by defending our corrupt political elites. Without conscience, they will tell you they are merely practising their profession. That's why I'm surprised seeing Mr. Dawudu, the present NBA chairman speaking against corruption. This same man defended James Ibori and his mistress; crooked all the legal books to make them escape justice in Nigeria.

The travail of Justice Ayo Salami is painful in the eyes of justice, equity and fairness, but the man should have seen it coming. He superintend over a legal system that is corrupt and inhuman; not once did he raise his voice against the injustices in the system. Now that he is a victim, why must our own sleep be disturbed?

The Sokoto governorship debacle that created the haywire drama which culminated in Justice Salami's suspension, was a clear case of constitution against commonsense. The Governor of Sokoto state, Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko decamped from ANPP to the PDP on the eve of 2007 gubernatorial election. He was clearly the peoples' favourites; he won the election with a wide margin. The DPP candidate who came distance second, was not challenging the result; he was rather using a constitutional clause which stipulates the eligibility period allow for a new member of a party to contest election under the party. The man simply wanted to explore the constitution and become the governor of a state where the vast majority of the people did not want him. I am not a lawyer, but I think Sokoto people would have suffered grave injustice if the DPP candidate had his way. He is simply not their choice.

Some of our judges fraternise with the political class. No one has denied the fact that Ayo Salami and Bola Tinubu are close friends. While not questioning the judgments of the 2007 gubernatorial Appeal tribunals, without doubts Tinubu's ACN was the greatest beneficiary. How do we now foreclose any influence of Justice Salami in these cases? The truth is, Justice Salami shot himself in the foot, by holding an esteemed judicial office and still associating with the political class.

I pray Justice Salami get ‘justice' on his case; but this will only be possible if there is still justice left in our present judicial ‘abracadabra', where the more you see the less you understand. The Federal High court where his case is pending, is headed by Justice Auta. Nigerians have not forgotten Justice Auta, the man who against all human expectations, sentenced Ken Saro Wiwa to death by hanging.

I am weeping, but not for Justice Salami. I am weeping for Nigeria, a country where there is no justice for the poor and oppressed. Regrettably, Justice Ayo Salami was an active player in this system, it's a pity he is learning the hard way the repercussion of the monster his actions and inactions helped to create in our legal system.

Written by Olurotimi Adeola

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