Justice Isa Ayo Salami
An Abuja-based non-governmental organisation, Society for Rule of Law in Nigeria (SRLN), has urged the National Judicial Council (NJC) and security agencies in the country to probe the claim by the former Minister of State for Defence, Dr. Olu Agunloye, that it was the suspended President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami, who nominated Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) as the governorship candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) for the October 20 Ondo State governorship election.
The group said Agunloye’s claim should not be wished away because allegations of judges’ involvement in the selection of political parties’ candidates for election is one that portends grave danger for democratic governance and rule of law in the country.
When asked whether it was true that Justice Salami actually influenced the choice of Akeredolu as ACN candidate, Agunloye, who was also a governorship aspirant in the party said; “Tinubu himself was quoted to have said that he needed to do this as compensation to Justice Salami. We were asking him what concerns Ondo State with Justice Salami and if Salami had done any good for you, find a way of compensating him and if he is interested in governorship of Kwara State, give him Kwara State and not Ondo State.”
Reacting, SRLN said in a statement issued yesterday by its National Coordinator, Chima Ubeku that Agunloye’s revelation was a further confirmation of the unholy relationship that exist between Justice Salami and the ACN leader, Bola Tinubu, and “the NJC must act on this new revelation.”
“We wish to draw the attention of Nigerians to the revelation made by Dr. Olu Agunloye in his interview published in some newspapers last Saturday and Sunday, on the involvement of Justice Salami in the emergence of Akeredolu as the ACN governorship candidate for Ondo State, and wish to state that such claims are not what should be wished away.
“This is because the issue of Salami’s unholy relationship with the ACN leader, Bola Tinubu has remained one of the major credibility crises facing the judiciary in Nigeria and Agunloye’s revelation has provided another clue as to how it can be resolved.
“Besides, democracy in Nigeria risks grave danger if judges are now openly involved in partisan politics.
“Our question is, with Akeredolu as the candidate of a notorious judge, who also has his ‘trusted’ men in the bench, what will happen when litigations arise on the Ondo State governorship election?
“Are judges going to be imported from other countries to sit on petitions arising from the Ondo State election?
“The NJC and security agencies in the country must therefore probe Dr. Agunloye’s claim, because like other revelations on Salami and Tinubu’s convivial relationship, it touches on the very root of rule of law in the country,” SRLN said.