Recently retired President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, yesterday, compared his travails to those of the biblical Joseph, saying he was betrayed and sold out by most of his hitherto trusted friends and colleagues on the Bench.
Salami, who spoke at a valedictory court session that was held in his honour by the Court of Appeal in Abuja, maintained that he was a victim of executive witch-hunt, even as he added that the National Judicial Council, NJC, unwittingly allowed itself to be used by desperate politicians that wanted to see his exit from the appellate court by all means.
Justice Salami, who holds the infamous record of being the only judicial officer in Nigeria’s history to be placed under suspension for the longest period, stressed that the NJC by its actions and conduct with regards to all the issues that culminated to his suspension on August 18, 2010, grossly failed in its duties and functions as a sacred arm of the Nigerian judiciary.
His words: “The last three years of my career were dogged by travails which are not dissimilar to the fate of Joseph in the book of Genesis in the Bible; as his brothers conspired to destroy him by throwing him into a well and selling him into slavery, my learned brothers and friends in the legal profession planned and executed same evil to me.
“The National Judicial Council, NJC, created by the Constitution to protect me, nay any judicial officer, was on the vanguard of my travails. The NJC failed in its duties and thereby surrendered its functions to the Executive arm of government thus, ingratiating itself to the Executive.
“For instance, the NJC having cleared me of any wrongdoing, following the recommendations of Justice Aloma Mukhtar’s committee, ought to have recalled me to office without asking the President to exercise the power that he does not possess, on the flimsy excuse that it had earlier referred the matter to him.”
“In truth, as a matter of courtesy, all it needed to do was to write the President that in view of its recent decision, this matter was now outside his purview. After so informing him, NJC would be free to take the necessary step to implement its decision.
“The position in which NJC has found itself is similar to that of the proverbial cock that betrayed itself to the fox that what was on his head was not fire and encouraged the fox to touch it.”