Salami had asked the Appeal Court to determine certain questions that arose from an application he filed before an Abuja Federal High Court to challenge his suspension by the National Judicial Council.
He had asked the Abuja FHC presided by Justice Donatus Okorowo, to stay proceedings in the substantive suit to enable the Court of Appeal to determine the questions, among which is, whether it is the FHC, or the National Industrial Court, that has the jurisdiction to hear the suit.
Salami, through his counsel, Chief Akin Olujimi, SAN, maintains that the FHC has the powers to hear the suit, but the respondents, including the NJC, are insisting that only the industrial court has the jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
However, the court refused to determine the questions referred to it, and instead, struck out the referral suit on the grounds that the processes brought before it by the Registrar of the FHC were incompetent.
The five-man panel of justices of the court, led by Justice Hussein Mukhtar, held that the processes transmitted to the appellate court by the Registrar of the FHC in respect of suit N0: FHC/ABJ/CS/723/2011 were incompetent, having not complied with Order 5, Rules (1) and (2) of the Court of Appeal, which requires mandatory compliance by the FHC in the transmission of records of proceedings.
Mukhtar noted that the Registrar of the FHC only transmitted the ruling made by Okorowo on March 15, 2012, motion argued, affidavit in support, as well as the enrolled order.
In a brief ruling, Mukhtar said, “The provisions of Order 5, Rule 1 and 2 require mandatory compliance and the letter by the Registrar of the Federal High Court have not satisfied these mandatory requirements. I hereby hold that the processes filed by the Registrar of the Federal High Court are therefore incompetent.”
The appellate court refused an oral application for adjournment moved by Salami’s counsel, Mr. Olumide Olujimi, who stood in for Chief Akin Olujimi.
Olujimi had prayed the court for an adjournment to enable him “further liaise with the lower court to ensure that the proper processes were filed, in compliance with Order 5, Rule 1 and 2 of the Court of Appeal.”
But the counsel to all the respondents opposed the oral application, arguing that there was no competent process before the court to warrant a request for adjournment.
The respondents, instead, asked the court to strike out the suit for lack of diligent prosecution.
Salami had approached the Abuja FHC to challenge his suspension by the NJC on Aug. 18, 2011.
Besides the NJC, other respondents in the suit are former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, and immediate past CJN, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, who was the secretary of the Council when Salami was suspended.
Others include Justice Umaru Abdullahi, Justice Emmanuel Ayoola, Justice Dominic Edozie, Justice Michael Akpiroroh, Mrs. Rakia Sarki Ibrahim, Hon. Justice Kate Abiri and Hon. Justice Peter Umeadi, who were members of the NJC fact-finding committee.
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