Aug 23, 2011 The Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, on Monday, accused President Goodluck Jonathan of violating his oath of office by appointing an Acting President of the Court of Appeal, after the controversial removal of the substantive holder of the office, Ayo Salami, by the National Judicial Council.
Jonathan approved the appointment of Dalhatu Adamu to replace Salami, amid complaints that he, as well as the NJC that made the recommendation, lacked the powers to do so since the office remained occupied by Salami.
In a statement issued in Lagos, Monday, by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party said the president’s action amounted to a “repudiation of the oath he took to protect the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and uphold the rule of law.”
”Section 238, which the president relied on to remove Justice Salami and appoint an Acting President of the Court of Appeal, deals with the appointment of president and justices of the Court of Appeal if the office is vacant,” he said.
“Section 292 deals with the removal of top judicial officers, including the president of the Court of Appeal. In accordance with this section, the president can only remove any of the listed officers, acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate. In other words, it is not even the president, but the Senate, that can initiate the process upon the recommendation of the NJC.”
The ACN added the president’s action confirmed speculations that he may actually be secretly pushing for the removal of Salami, through the NJC, over fears that the petition by the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, which is being handled by the Court of Appeal, may go against him (Jonathan).
“By rushing to remove Justice Salami on the strength of Section 238, the president has committed the same faux pas as the NJC clique and violated the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” stated Mohammed. “He has filled a post in which no vacancy exists, and allowed himself to be guided by political expediency, rather than the provisions of the Constitution.”
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) had earlier protested the suspension of Salami, who has been involved in controversies with the Chief Judge of the Federation, Aloysius Katsina-Alu. The NBA urged Jonathan to disregard the suspension and not appoint a replacement threatening to boycott legal the courts.
The ACN said that may have been the last straw for the president, adding that he displayed “executive recklessness” by acting on an issue that is pending before the court and also relied on a section of the Constitution that deals with appointment, rather than removal, to get rid of Justice Salami.
“President Jonathan’s not-well-thought-out action will have a far reaching effect on the judiciary and the entire country, and will largely define his presidency,” stated Mohammed. “He may not have thought about this before he rushed into action.”