HUNDREDS of artisans and market women in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State capital yesterday staged a peaceful protest asking President Goodluck Jonathan to implement the recommendation of the National Judicial Commission (NJC) that Justice Ayo Salami should be re-instated as Appeal Court President.
The groups, which comprised members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), youth bodies, artisans, motorcyclists, market women and leaders of some political parties under the aegis of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), gave President Jonathan 24 hours to reinstate the suspended Justice Salami or face mass action.
The pro-Salami protesters, who marched round some major streets in Ado Ekiti, later met at the Governor Office where they were received by Governor Kayode Fayemi. The Chairman of CNPP in the state, Tunji Ogunlola and leaders of other groups, who spoke in turns, expressed resentment at the way the President had been dilly-dallying in approving the recommendation of the NJC that Salami be reinstated.
While addressing the protesters, Fayemi, who promised to convey their message to the appropriate authorities, appealed to them to remain peaceful in their protest. He threatened to prosecute Chief Segun Oni, if he failed to stop parading himself as a former governor of the state.
Describing Oni as an impostor, Fayemi said: “The judgment of the Appeal Court was very clear and unequivocal that Oni was not validly elected in 2007 and was never a governor in the face of law because no law, either at the state or federal level recognises him as a former governor.
“And appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that those that are impersonating are prosecuted and brought to justice.”
In his response, Mr. Lere Olayinka, spokesperson to Oni said Fayemi got it wrong by threatening to prosecute Oni for being addressed as the former governor of the state and advised him to study the recent judgment of the Supreme Court on the tenure of former governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris and others.
Fayemi advised President Jonathan to rise above pettiness by rebuffing the dissenting voices of some persons in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who were kicking against Salami’s return.
Criticising Oni and members of the PDP for condemning the National Judicial Council’s recommendation to President Jonathan for immediate reinstatement of Salami as President of the Court of Appeal, Fayemi maintained that the suspended jurist was being punished for his truthfulness and steadfastness.
“During the April 2011 general elections in Ekiti, it was not Justice Salami that spoke in the House of Assembly, House of Representatives and National Assembly elections, which ACN had won resoundingly.
“It was Ekiti people that spoke resoundingly, unequivocally and clearly that it was ACN they wanted, so the cry that it was Justice Salami that made them lose Ekiti was mere ranting of an ant. Nigerians must fight against this injustice to Justice Salami because an injury to one, is an injury to all.”
He added that, “about 1,000 petitions were filed by various aggrieved candidates after the 2007 election and only few that were handled by courageous judges were won by opposition. So, this cry against Salami is uncalled for going by this statistics.”