The growing crisis over the subterranean plot to remove the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Salami, by purportedly “promoting” him to the Supreme Court, escalated this afternoon with Femi Falana suing the National Judicial Commission (NJC) and the Federal Judicial Service Commission. 

Earlier today, Saharareporters learned that Justice Salami had himself filed another lawsuit in an effort to compel both bodies to discard the plot to promote him aside.  The objective of the promotion scheme is to ensure that electoral challenges arising from the forthcoming national elections at the Court of Appeal receive pre-determined verdicts.  Justice Salami has in the past couple of years been involved with a review process that has seen the PDP lose high profile governorships into which it had rigged its candidates. 

In Mr. Falana’s suit, which was filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja today, the plaintiff is asking the court to determine:

•    Whether the defendants can lawfully or validly recommend any person for appointment to the Supreme Court of Nigeria in contravention of Section 4 of the law establishing the Federal Character Commission;

•    Whether the defendants can lawfully or validly recommend Justice Salami to the Supreme Court  when his North Central Zone already has the maximum number of Justices allowed; and

•    Whether, in view of Justice Salami’s rejection of the proposed appointment, the promotion would not amount to an unlawful and unconstitutional removal from office.

In an affidavit in support of the summons, Anthony Itedjere of Bamidele Aturu & Co, solicitors to Mr. Falana, deposed that under the existing formula for the distribution of judicial appointments in the Supreme Court, while some of the zones have yet to fill their allotted quota that of the North Central Zone is already fully subscribed. 

He noted that although Justice Salami has rejected the offer of recommendation for his appointment to the Supreme Court, the recommendation would be made unless the defendants are restrained.  Were such a process to go ahead, he argued, it will lead to confusion and needless constitutional crisis in the country.

 See details of  lawsuit below:

IN THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT
HOLDEN AT ABUJA
 
SUIT NO: FHC/ABJ/CS/    /2011
 
BETWEEN
 
FEMI FALANA ESQ                                              PLAINTIFF
                                                                
 
AND
 
1.     NATIONAL JUDICIAL COUNCIL
2.     FEDERAL JUDICIAL SERVICE COMMISSION    DEFENDANTS
 
                              
ORIGINATING SUMMONS
 
LET the Defendants, the National Judicial Council and the Federal Judicial Service Commission both of  Supreme Court Complex, Three Arms Zone, Abuja  within thirty days after service of this summons on them inclusive of the day of such service, cause an appearance to be entered for them to this summons which is issued upon the application of the Plaintiff of Suite D12, Plot 92, Obafemi Awolowo Way, Besides Thisday Head Office, Jabi, Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court who claims for the determination of the following legal questions.
 
Questions for Determination
 
1.                 Whether the Defendants can lawfully or validly recommend any person for appointment to the Supreme Court of Nigeria in contravention of section 4 of the Federal Character Commission (Establishment, etc.) Act, cap F7, Laws of the Federation of   Nigeria, 2004, Part I of the Guiding Principles and Formulae for the Distribution of all Cadres of Posts made pursuant thereto and section 14(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
 
2.                 Whether the Defendants can lawfully or validly recommend Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami an indigene of Kwara State of Nigeria from the North Central Zone for appointment to the Supreme Court of Nigeria when that zone already has the maximum number of Justices in the Supreme Court being three allowable by the Guiding Principles and Formulae for the Distribution of all Cadres of Posts made pursuant to the Federal Character Commission (Establishment, etc.) Act, cap F7, Laws of the Federation of   Nigeria, 2004.
 
3.                 Whether given the rejection of the proposed offer of appointment to the Supreme Court of Nigeria by Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami, it would not amount to an unlawful and unconstitutional removal from office contrary to section 292 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the Defendants to proceed with the recommendation of Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami for appointment to the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
 
 
CLAIMS
 
AND the Plaintiff claims the following reliefs:
 
1.     A DECLARATION that the purported advice of the 2nd Defendant to the 1st Defendant to nominate or recommend Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami, the President of the Court of Appeal, for appointment to the Supreme Court of Nigeria is inequitable, unlawful, illegal, and unconstitutional being in flagrant violation of  section 4 of the Federal Character Commission (Establishment, etc.) Act, cap F7, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, Part I of the Guiding Principles and Formulae for the Distribution of all Cadres of Posts made pursuant thereto and section 14(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 in that Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami is an indigene of Kwara State of Nigeria from the North Central Zone that already has the maximum number of Justices in the Supreme Court being three allowable by the Guiding Principles and Formulae for the Distribution of all Cadres of Posts.
 
2.     A DECLARATION that the 1st Defendant cannot lawfully or validly recommend Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami for appointment to the Supreme Court of Nigeria being an indigene of Kwara State of Nigeria from the North Central Zone that already has the maximum number of three Justices in the Supreme Court in contravention of section 4 of the Federal Character Commission (Establishment, etc.) Act, cap F7, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, Part I of the Guiding Principles and Formulae for the Distribution of all Cadres of Posts made pursuant thereto and section 14(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
 
3.     A DECLARATION that it would amount to an unlawful and unconstitutional removal of Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami from office as the President of the Court of Appeal contrary to section 292 of the Constitution if the Defendants recommend him for appointment as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria given his rejection of the offer.
 
4.     AN ORDER of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants whether by themselves, agents, servants or privies or by whomsoever and howsoever from recommending, nominating or purporting to recommend Honourable Justice Salami for appointment to the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
 
AND for such further or other orders as this Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances
 
Dated this 7th day of February, 2011
 
----------------
      JUDGE 
This summons was taken out by Bamidele Aturu Esq., of BAMIDELE ATURU & CO Legal Practitioner for the above named Plaintiff whose address for service is Suite D12, Plot 92, Obafemi Awolowo Way, Besides Thisday Head Office, Jabi, Abuja.  The Defendants may appear hereto by entering appearance personally or by a legal practitioner either by handing in the appropriate forms duly completed, at the Federal High Court Registry or by sending them to that office by post.
 
Note
If the Defendants do not enter appearance within the time and at the place above mentioned, such orders will be made and proceedings may be taken as the Judge may think just and expedient.
 
 
FOR SERVICE ON:
 
1.     National Judicial Council
Supreme Court Complex, Three Arms Zone, Abuja
 
2.     Federal Judicial Service Commission
Supreme Court Complex, Three Arms Zone, Abuja
IN THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT
HOLDEN AT ABUJA
 
SUIT NO: FHC/ABJ/CS/    /2011
 
BETWEEN
 
FEMI FALANA ESQ                                              PLAINTIFF
                                                                
 
AND
 
 
1.     NATIONAL JUDICIAL COUNCIL

2.     FEDERAL JUDICIAL SERVICE COMMISSION    DEFENDANTS
 
 
 
AFFIDAVIT IN SUPPORT OF ORIGINATING SUMMONS
 
I, Anthony Itedjere, male, adult, Christian, Nigerian, legal practitioner of Suite D12, Plot 92, Jabi Plaza, Awolowo Way, Abuja do hereby make oath and say as follows:
 
1.                 I am a legal practitioner and staff of Bamidele Aturu & Co, solicitors to the Plaintiff by virtue of which fact I am conversant with the facts deposed to herein.

2.                 I have the consent and authority of the Plaintiff and my employer to depose to this affidavit on his behalf.

3.                 Except as otherwise stated herein, facts deposed to in this affidavit are those within my knowledge, information and belief.

4.                 The Plaintiff is a Nigerian citizen and a legal practitioner and a solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria who pays his taxes regularly as a law abiding citizen.

5.                 The Plaintiff has a duty to abide by the Constitution (and other laws) and render assistance to lawful agencies and institutions of democratic government such as the Defendants.

6.                 The Plaintiff was the President of the West African Bar Association (WABA) and one of the Nigerians who fought for the abolition of military rule and for the establishment of democracy. The Plaintiff has been variously detained in prisons and detention centres across Nigeria under both military and civilian administrations for his principled support for the cause of democracy. The Plaintiff is also a public affairs commentator in both print and electronic media; a member of the National Executive Council of the Nigerian Bar Association; member of Nigerian Bar Association Human Rights Institute; honoured by the Legal Aid Council; American Bar Association and the International Bar Association for the defence of human rights and the rule of law; and have many cases pending in the various courts in Nigeria.

7.                 The 1st Defendant is the body charged with the Constitutional responsibility of nominating or recommending persons for appointment for judicial offices in Nigeria.

8.                 The 2nd Defendant is the body charged with the Constitutional responsibility of advising the 1st Defendant on nomination to judicial offices in Nigeria.

9.                 On the 1st  and 2nd of February 2011, the 1st Defendant purportedly passed a resolution to advise the 1st Defendant to recommend the appointment of Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami to the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Herewith attached and marked as Exhibit FF 1 is a certified true copy of the Punch Newspaper of 3rd of March which carried a report of the decision of the 2nd Defendant.

10.            A meeting of the 1st Defendant has been fixed for Wednesday the 9th day of February 2011 for the sole purpose of considering and approving the advice of the 2nd Defendant.

11.            The existing formula for the distribution of judicial appointments in the Supreme Court at present which has the sanction and blessing of the Federal Character Commission and which has been rigidly adhered to per Zone is as follows:.
a.     North Central       3 Justices
b.     North West           3 Justices
c.      North East            3Justices
d.     South South          2 Justices
e.      South West           3 Justices
f.       South East            2 Justices
12.            At present there are 13 Justices in the Supreme Court of Nigeria as follows:
a.     North Central     3 Justices (Honourable Mr Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, CJN, John Fabiyi and Suleiman Galadima, JJSC
b.     North West         3 Justices(Dahiru Musdapher, AlomaMukhtar, Muntaka-Coomasie, JJSC
c.      North East          2 Justices (Mahmud Mohammed, Tanko Muhammad, JJSC)
d.     South South        2 Justices (Francis Tabai, Walter Onnoghen, JJSC)
e.      South West         2 Justices (Olufunlola Adekeye, Bode Rhodes-Vivour, JJSC)
f.       South East           1 Justice (Mitchel Chukwumah-Eneh)
 
13.            Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami is an indigene of Kwara State from the North Central Zone of Nigeria.
14.            The South West and North East Zones are yet to fill their own quotas of three Justices each at the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
15.            The South East Zone is yet to fill its own quota of two Justices at the Supreme Court.
16.             Unless the Defendants are restrained they will recommend the appointment of Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami for appointment to the Supreme Court.
17.            Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami has rejected the offer or recommendation for his appointment to the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Herewith attached and marked as Exhibit FF 2 is a certified True Copy of the Punch Newspaper of the 6th of February, 2011.

18.            If the Defendants proceed with the process of recommending Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami for appointment to the Supreme Court of Nigeria it will lead to confusion and needless constitutional crisis in Nigeria.
 
 
 19.            I the said Anthony Itedjere Esq do hereby make this oath in good faith conscientiously believing the facts to be true to the best of my knowledge and in accordance with the Oaths Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
       -----------
DEPONENT
 
SWORN to at the Federal High Court Registry,
Abuja this 7th February, 2011
 
 
 
 
BEFORE ME
 
 
 
COMMISSIONER FOR OATHS
 

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