Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The Nigerian Non-Governmental Organization Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has dragged the Nigerian government to the ECOWAS Court of Justice in the capital city of Abuja over alleged “unlawful suspension of Justice Ayo Salami as President of the Court of Appeal (PCA) by President Goodluck Jonathan.”
SERAP, which had earlier filed a suit to that effect in a Nigerian court, discontinued the suit and immediately instituted this case before the ECOWAS Court.
The group said in a statement obtained by PANA here Sunday that the suit, filed on Thursday, was brought pursuant to the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance; the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
SERAP is alleging violation of “the internationally recognized human rights to due process of law; to access to justice and judicial independence; to the rule of law and good governance; to a fair hearing, and to an effective remedy in the suspension of Honourable Justice Ayo Salami, as
President Court of Appeal (PCA) by the defendant while his case is pending in court.”
SERAP is also contending that “the defendant’s action violates the provisions of Section 292 (1) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, which requires that any exercise of power to suspend President of the Court of Appeal should be supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate.
“Unless the reliefs sought herein are granted, the defendant will continue to be in breach of the Nigerian Constitution and Nigeria’s international human rights obligations and commitment,” SERAP further argued.
Among the reliefs being sought by SERAP is a declaration that the suspension of Justice Salami, as PCA by the defendant without due process of law, is null, void and unconstitutional as it violates his right to a fair hearing guaranteed by Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The NGO is also seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant from further interfering in the judicial process and the rule of law in any manner in Nigeria.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
The removal of Justice Salami by President Jonathan, acting on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, has generated heated controversy in Nigeria, especially as many legal analysts said the action contravenes the country's constitution.
-0- PANA SEG 4Sept2011