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Justice in Nigeria Now for Highest Bidders, Tinubu Laments

…Describes Justice Salami as “finest Jurist of this generation” 

Ayo Balogun, Lagos

National leader, All Progress Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has lamented that the nation is witnessing an era where justice has been placed on the auction box for the highest bidders.

Former Governor of Lagos state, Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Former Governor of Lagos state, Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Tinubu spoke at the Book launch of Justice Ayo Salami on Wednesday in Abuja, Nigeria, saying that Salami had excelled at a time when corruption is very rampant in the judicial system.

“We live in an era where justice has been placed on the auction block. Too often, the temple of justice has decayed into a chamber deceit. One man fought to bring justice back into the temple through singular acts of courage,” he extolled the virtue of Salami.

According to Tinubu, “we gather today to give live honour to a living man of integrity, intellectual courage, wisdom and discipline. A man who reaffirmed and kept faith with the true meaning of justice even when the powerful and mighty tried to redefine it as something it was not.

“He stood alone and singlehandedly tried to give the Nigerian judiciary a rebirth. This man is no mythic fable or figment of our desperate search for heroes. This is a real man who we all know. Whenever the history of the Nigerian judiciary is told or written, the name of Justice Ayo Salami, former President of the Appeal Court, will occupy a place of supreme honor and respect. Many have said he is the finest jurist of this generation. They may well be right.”

The former Governor of Lagos State added that Salami stared injustice and the misconduct of craven power in the face and did not flinch as he stood his ground because it was a firm and honest position, established on the unbiased rule of law.

He said Salami represented the judiciary a true democracy needed, saying that that “we are yet to achieve this judiciary simply because those in power do not want it. They do not want judges who are objective arbiters of the law. They want jurists who cheer for them not jurist who cherish the law. They want judges who believe power and might are the law not judges who believe in the power and might of the law.

“For being forthright and objective, Salami was taken from his deserved position on the bench by the ruling party. An innocent man was made to suffer pilloried for the sin of being good and forthright. Those who forced him into retirement saw him as an obstacle because he did not play favorites. When it came to the law, he did not play at all. He held the law in great esteem and protected it as one should protect the cornerstone of a just society.”

Tinubu argued that Nigeria stood in the cross winds of history and that unless the nation found more men with the gravity and sobriety of Justice Salami in the judiciary, she shall be swept in the wrong direction by the terrible gales of unbridled ambition and mean power.

He said in an era of electoral thievery, Nigerians had their votes stolen and elections manipulated as the ruling PDP had perfected the art of losing at the ballot box but winning at the arbitrary stroke of a pen held by some compromised INEC agent.

“The 2007 elections wrongly applauded by the international observers as credible was a most brazenly rigged exercise. It was an open carnival of malpractice. PDP candidates who were clear losers were awarded the trophy as governors in Ekiti, Edo, Osun and Ondo States. The opposition is fairly tolerant but this amount of thievery no one can stomach.

“The aggrieved went to court. They asked the judiciary to fulfill its duty by applying justice where justice had gotten cheated. In a long and tough battle, justice prevailed rafter nearly three years of litigation and battle. When the cases arrived at the Court of Appeal, one man was waiting. This was one man who made the difference. He was Justice Ayo Salami, the President of the Appeal Court. Soon the stolen victories in Osun, Ekiti, Edo and Ondo were overturned and the people’s mandates were restored to the proper winners.

“That should have been the end of it where law and history merged in to a just and happy ending. But wait. It did not happen that nice way. Our courts have become Islands of confusion as judges are now forced to balance their conscience against their careers. As a consequence, we face the troubling development of having the scant progress in INEC performance being completely overtaken by this subjugation of the judiciary. We are thus confronted with a process that is timed for backward rather than forward movement,” Tinubu stated.

Tinubu demanded judicial independence so that other jurists could act in the spirit of Salami, stressing that “if we do this, Nigeria would have executed the proper turn to its better future. And whenever the story of the judiciary of this nation is told, the name Ayo Salami will find powerful and true mention.”


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