Amid the dark clouds hanging over the anti-corruption crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, former President of the Court of Appeal (PCA) Justice Ayo Salami has rejected his appointment as the Chairman of the Corruption and Financial Crime Cases Trial Monitoring Committee (COTRIMCO), based on principle and conscience.
Justice Salami was named as the chair of COTRIMCO, set up by the National Judicial Council (NJC,) on September 27 by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
The appointment was sequel to the decision of the NJC at its 82nd meeting in Abuja.
However, among other reasons, Justice Salami is said to be uncomfortable with the composition of the 15-man committee.
“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. In fact, while he was still being asked by colleagues to give the appointment a chance, there was controversy over the reinstatement of a former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms Task Team, Mr. Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina. Salami just said he won’t accept this offer. He, however, took time to meet with the CJN personally to thank him for the honour and why he cannot accept the job. He made it known that he had no grudges against the CJN,” a dependable source said.
Other members of the committee, apart from Mr Salami 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.
Many Nigerians no longer believe that President Buhari is prosecuting a genuine war against corruption. They feel he shields his loyalists, who are accused of corruption, from facing the music. Mr. Buhari is yet to act on the recommendations of the panel led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, which investigated the millions of dollars found in the Ikoyi flat, said to belong to the NIA. Not to mention the probe of the grass cutting scandal that involved the suspended Secretary to Government of the Federation, SGF, David Babachir Lawal.
Salt was added to injury when it recently leaked that former pensions boss, Abdulrasheed Maina, who was wanted for N2.1billion, was recalled and reinstated into public service by top officials of the Buhari administration.