You Abandoned Me, I Won't Head Your Panel – Ayo Salami

Former Court of Appeal president, Justice Ayo Salami, who was removed from office and couldn't return to office under President Jonathan until he retired, broke his silence on his appointment as Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Cases Trial Monitoring Committee set up by the NJC.

Salami divulged his reason for rejecting the appointment in an interview with Punch on Thursday.

The Nation had reported on Thursday that Salami rejected the appointment because of some persons included as members of the committee.

But Salami said in a phone chat that he rejected the appointment because it was not in his interest.

Insisting that contrary to the statement issued by the Office of Chief Justice of Nigeria on Thursday that it had yet to be formally notified of Salami’s decision to reject the appointment, Salami said that he had sent a formal letter to the appropriate authorities to that effect.

Making a veiled reference to the former President Jonathan administration’s refusal to reinstate him as the President of the Court of Appeal despite NJC’s recommendation that he should be returned to office, Salami said that the NJC and the courts abandoned him during his trying time.

The following conversation ensued...

Punch: You have been unreachable since you were offered the appointment by NJC. Why sir?

Salami: When they announced the constitution of the committee, I was not in the country.

Punch: Why did you reject the appointment?

Salami: I rejected the appointment because it is not in my interest.

Punch: What do you mean sir?

Salami: What I mean is that it is not in my interest; that was why I rejected it.

Punch: I want you to elaborate on ‘not being in your interest, sir.

Salami: It is because I don’t need it.

Punch: But it seems the judiciary needs your help.

Salami: To do what in the judiciary?

Punch: I think it was to help the judiciary to remove the obstacles hindering successful prosecution of high profile corruption cases.

Salami: Where was the judiciary when they were harassing me? Where was the court when they were harassing me?

Punch: Maybe the judiciary has now realised that you were unfairly treated.

Salami: So, let them continue to do it in their own way.

Punch: But what we heard was that you rejected the appointment because of some persons appointed to work with you as members of the committee.

Salami: It is not; I don’t just feel like doing it. it is not because of anybody.

Punch: But the CJN and NJC said they had not received your letter rejecting the appointment.

Salami: Let them look for it, I have sent it.

Punch: You have sent the letter?

Salami: Yes, of course. If I have not sent it, how did they know?

Punch: They said they learnt of your rejection through a news report.

Salami: But it is there in the report that that the information was released by sources close to the Supreme Court. Didn’t you read it?