SIR: The announcement by the National Judicial Council headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen of the setting up of the Corruption and Financial Crimes Cases Trial Monitoring Committee has elicited a lot of positive reactions from Nigerians. This is because of the personage that was selected to head the committee. He is no other than Justice Ayo Salami, the former President of the Court of Appeal who exited the office six years ago in controversial circumstances. Justice Ayo Salami is reputed to be a forthright and principled individual. One who is not afraid to speak truth to power irrespective of whose ox is gored. His antecedents as a jurist indeed speak volumes of his strength of character and also of his role as an impartial arbiter in the temple of justice.
The terms of reference of the committee are also another issue which has gladdened the hearts of millions of Nigerians. Two of the items stand out for mention here. One is to monitor courts handling of corruption cases and the second is to see to the creation of special courts in each judicial division in the country to handle corruption cases. What this seeks to achieve is the speedy trial of corruption cases in Nigeria and the monitoring of corruption cases to ensure that judges do not deliver judgements that are at variance with the evidence on ground due to one form of technicality or another in the statute books. It will also make it difficult for judges to accept any form of financial inducement from corrupt individuals in order to deliver wrong judgement.
Justice Ayo Salami was suspended on August 8, 2011 for nine months by the NJC after he refused to apologize to the council and former CJN Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu after a panel of the council found him to have lied against the CJN. But that was the official line. The truth was that Justice Salami was suspended for presiding over a court that sacked four Peoples Democratic Party Governors in Edo, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun. He was about to deliver another judgement against the PDP in Sokoto State when the then CJN Justice Katsina-Alu intervened and told him not to as the impending judgement had been leaked. The rest is history as there were accusations and counter-accusations which eventually led to his suspension. He never regained the seat even when the new CJN Justice Dahiru Musdapher cleared him of all wrong doing.
Justice Salami’s second coming is therefore a triumph to integrity, truth and justice. It will also inspire other Nigerians holding public offices to handle it with integrity, truth and fairness knowing that no matter what befalls them, posterity will be kind to them.
First published on The Nation _ On: October 9, 2017