Justice Ayo Salami rejects chairmanship of anti-corruption committee

Justice Ayo Salami

Former President of the Court of Appeal (PCA) Justice Ayo Salami (retd) has rejected his appointment as Chairman of the Corruption and Financial Crime Cases Trial Monitoring Committee (COTRIMCO).

The rejection, it was learnt, is because of likely conflict of interest with some members of the committee.

Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, on September 27 named Salami chairman of the committee set up by the National Judicial Council (NJC).

It followed a decision reached by the NJC at its 82nd meeting in Abuja.

Salami, according to sources, was uncomfortable with the composition of the 15-man committee.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) had on October 3 sent an open letter to Justice Onnoghen, urging him to use his “good offices and position to urgently revisit and review the composition” of the committee “to remove the risk of apparent and potential conflicts between the work of the committee and the private practice of some of its members who are handling high-profile cases of corruption involving politically exposed persons (PEPs).”

The organisation proposes “that for the Salami Committee to perform its tasks effectively and with propriety, it should preferably be composed entirely of members of the judiciary, particularly drawn from available pool of brilliant and incorruptible retired judges.”

Critics say membership of the 15-man committee includes people implicated in some conflicting challenges between the bench and the bar.

Although Salami was out of the country when he was appointed, he sought an audience with the CJN upon his return.

It was learnt that after discussing his reservations with the CJN, he wrote to reject the appointment.

A Supreme Court sources confirmed that Justice Salami had “thrown in the towel”.

The source, who spoke in confidence, said the CJN might have to brief members of the NJC to search for another credible chairman.

Justice Salami is said to have consulted widely with leaders on the Bench and in the Bar before resolving with his family to reject the offer.

A source said: “I think Salami felt that a few members of the committee had been entrenched in the intrigues in the nation’s Judiciary.

“He believes that as the chairman of the committee, he will not have the authority to keep those members in check.

“So, instead of creating unnecessary problem for himself without any place to run to, he opted to stay away from the committee.”

Besides  Justice Salami, other members of the committee are the Chief Judge, Borno State, Justice Kashim Zannah; the Chief Judge of Imo State, Justice P.O. Nnadi; Chief Judge Delta State, Justice Marsahal Umukoro, Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice M. L. Abimbola.

Others are the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. A.B Mahmoud (SAN); former NBA Presidents, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN); Mr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN); Mr. J.B Daudu (SAN); and Mr. Augustine Alegeh (SAN); Dr. Garba Tetengi (SAN); Mrs. R.I Inga, Representative of Non-Governmental Organisations, Representative from the Ministry of Justice, Representative from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN, as well as the Secretary of the NJC, Mr. Gambo Saleh.