Following the withdrawal of its earlier suit from the Federal High Court, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) have dragged the Federal Government to the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja over alleged “unlawful suspension of Justice Ayo Salami as President of the Court of Appeal (PCA) by President Goodluck Jonathan.”

The organization discontinued the High Court suit, and then immediately instituted this case before the ECOWAS Court.

The suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/26/11 was filed on Thursday 1st September 2011 on behalf of the organization by its executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni.

The suit was brought pursuant to the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance; the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

SERAP is alleging violation of “the internationally recognized human rights to due process of law; to access to justice and judicial independence; to the rule of law and good governance; to a fair hearing, and to an effective remedy in the suspension of Honourable Justice Ayo Salami, as President Court of Appeal (PCA) by the Defendant while his case is pending in court.”

SERAP is also contending that “the Defendant’s action violates the provisions of Section 292 (1)
of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, which requires that any exercise of power to suspend
President of the Court of Appeal should be supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate. This
requirement was not fulfilled in this case.”

“Unless the reliefs sought herein are granted, the Defendant will continue to be in breach of the Nigerian Constitution and Nigeria’s international human rights obligations and commitment”, SERAP further argued.

SERAP is seeking the following reliefs from the ECOWAS Court:

A DECLARATION that the suspension of Honourable Justice Ayo Salami, as President Court of Appeal (PCA) by the Defendant without due process of law, is null, void and unconstitutional as it violates his right to a fair hearing guaranteed by Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and Article 14 the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

A DECLARATION that the suspension of Honourable Justice Ayo Salami, as President Court of Appeal (PCA) by the Defendant while his case is pending in court is null, void and unconstitutional as it undermines the independence, integrity and authority of the courts, and therefore violates the provisions of Sections 6 and 158 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Article 26 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, Article 1 of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance; and Articles 3 and 14 the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

A DECLARATION that the suspension of Honourable Justice Ayo Salami, as President Court of Appeal (PCA) by the Defendant while his case is pending in court constitutes a denial of access to justice and an effective remedy, as guaranteed by Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

AN ORDER mandating the Defendant to reinstate Justice Ayo Salami as President of the Court of Appeal forthwith

AN ORDER OF PERPETUAL INJUNCTION restraining the Defendant whether by itself and/or its agents from further interfering in the judicial process and the rule of law in any manner in Nigeria whatsoever and howsoever. 

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

 

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