Nine months after he was suspended, Justice Isa Ayo Salami is to return to his job as the President of the Court of Appeal.
The National Judicial Council (NJC), which met yesterday in Abuja, adopted the recommendation to reinstate him.
The recommendation has been sent to President Goodluck Jonathan for approval, it was learnt.
The meeting agreed with a five-member panel headed by the incoming Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Maryam Aloma Mukhtar.
Details of the NJC session were unknown yesterday, but a source said the recommendation was adopted in the interest of the judiciary and the way forward.
Ekiti State Governor Dr. Kayode Fayemi has hailed the recommendation, saying truth has finally prevailed.
Fayemi, in a statement last night, hailed the NJC for its uncommon courage. He also praised Justice Salami for his refusal to compromise despite the months of persecution.
He said the recommendation of Justice Salami has sounded the death knel for vote robbers.
Justice Salami was suspended by the NJC on August 18, last year, following his refusal to apologise to the former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, for allegedly lying on oath against him.
He had accused the former CJN of asking him to compromise the then Sokoto Court of Appeal hearing the appeal of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) in favourt of Governor Aliyu Wamako.
The committee, headed by Justice Mukhtar, was saddled with the responsibility of reconciling Justice Katsina-Alu and Justice Salami.
It was also asked to review the recommendations of a 29-member stakeholders’ Judicial Reform Committee raised by the incumbent CJN, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, on October 14, to review the crises in the judiciary recommended Justice Salami’s reinstatement.
The committee was headed by a former CJN, Justice Muhammadu Uwais.
A sub-committee of the panel, including Justice Mamman Nasir, Justice U. Kalgo and Justice Bola Ajibola, had asked the CJN and the NJC to reinstate Justice Salami back to his position.
The Committee upheld the decisions of the sub-committee and recommended Justice Salami’s reinstatement.
Justice Salami is billed for retirement next year.
The 29-member Stakeholders Judicial Reform Committee, which okayed that Justice Salami return to office, it also recommended his reconciliation with Justice Katsina-Alu.
The committee also advised Justice Salami to withdraw all the cases he has instituted in court as part of the reconciliation being sought in the judiciary.
Other recommendations include:
•the appointment of CJN from outside the rank of the Justices of the Supreme Court should be considered by the Federal Judicial Service Commission;
•the need to reform the system of appointment of judges by giving preference to court room experience and decision in legal practice; and
•the number of years for which a lawyer needs to be qualified prior to consideration for appointment as a Judge of the High Court should be increased from 10 years to minimum of 15 years post-call experience, 20 years post-call experience for the Court of Appeal and 25 years post call experience for the Supreme Court.
Members of the committee include former CJNs S.M.A. Belgore, Idris L. Kutigi and A.I. Katsina-Alu, Mamman Nasir (former PCA), A.G. Karibi-Whyte, Mustapha Akanbi, Umaru Abdullahi (former PCA), Kayode Eso (rtd. JSC), Umaru A. Kalgo (rtd. JSC) and Rose N. Ukeje (former CJ, Federal High Court).
Others are: Justice R.P.I. Bozimo (former Chief Judge, Delta State), Justice Lawal Hassan Gummi (Chief Judge, FCT), Joseph Daudu, SAN (NBA President), Chief Richard O. Akinjide SAN (former A-GF), Alhaji Abdullahi Ibrahim (SAN), (former A-GF), Dr. A.G.F. AbdulRazak (SAN) and Anthony O. Mogboh SAN.
There are also former NBA Presidents T.J.O. Okpoko, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), O.C.J. Okocha (SAN), Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), Oluwarotimi O. Akeredolu (SAN) and Prince Lanke Odogiyan, Esq.
Other members are: Hajiya Hairat Balogun, Prof. Epiphany Azinge (SAN), (Director-General, National Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, NIALS), Dr. Mamman Tahir (Director-General, Nigerian Law School) and Mr. A.B. Mahmud (SAN).