For one, there were conflicting signals as to the whereabouts of the National Judicial Council’s letter recommending Salami’s reinstatement to President Goodluck Jonathan. While sources at the Presidency told one of our correspondents that Jonathan was still awaiting the NJC letter, a senior official at the Commission insisted that the said letter had been dispatched since last Friday.
The NJC resolved last Thursday to recommend to the President the reinstatement of Salami, nine months after he was suspended by Jonathan on August 18, on the recommendation of the NJC.
“The President has not been informed of the decision by the NJC to reinstate Justice Ayo Salami. He (President) has only read it in the newspapers like every other Nigerian,” a top source at the Presidency told one of our correspondents at the Villa at 4.30pm on Monday.
The NJC official who asked not to be named said, “It (letter) has been sent. It was sent on Friday.”
Asked further to clarify reports that the NJC has yet to write Salami to inform him of the decision to reinstate him, the source said the Council had also sent a letter to the suspended PCA on the matter.
He said the two letters, one to Jonathan and the other addressed to Salami, were written at the same time.
“The two letters were written together. If Salami did not receive his own letter that Friday, then he must have received it today (Monday),” he said.
Attempts on Monday to confirm whether Salami had received the letter from NJC did not succeed. Calls to the mobile phone of his counsel, Akin Olujimi, SAN, were not answered. A text message sent to him was also not acknowledged.
The confusion over the NJC’s recommendation is coming amid alleged pressure by top members of the Peoples Democratic Party on Jonathan not to reinstate Salami as the PAC. The PDP chieftains were said to have been asking the President to stay action on the matter pending the resolution of the suits in respect of Salami’s suspension last year.
Atop the campaign against the reinstatement of Salami, sources told The PUNCH, were the Secretary of the PDP, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and the South-West vice-chairman of the party, Segun Oni.
Oyinlola and Oni had their tenure as governors of Osun and Ekiti states respectively truncated by judgments of the Court of Appeal under Salami’s presidency. The duo are said to be leading the anti-Salami group in the PDP.
In his reaction to the NJC resolution to reinstate Salami, Oni had said the decision constituted a mud on the integrity of the nation.
The anti-Salami group was said to have cited the issue of Salami’s call log and the case he instituted against his suspension and therefore asked the President to stay action.
Salami is due for retirement in 2013 when he would have attained the retirement age of 70.
However, a source at the national headquarters of the PDP told The PUNCH on Monday that the National Chairman of the PDP, Bamangar Tukur, had refused to be drawn into the matter. The source said that Tukur also felt that since the party was not actually a party to the removal of the judge from his seat, his return must not be debated by the party.
“I think the man felt that the judiciary should be left to do its job. Even as we speak, we have not heard anything officially that the man has been restated. When he was suspended, the NJC issued a statement to say it had recommended his suspension to the President. So, why is the commission shying away from doing that now?
“We do not want to play into the gallery yet. Let NJC issue a statement on the matter and then maybe we will now talk. But I know anti-Salami group has been contacting the Presidency.”