Justice Ayo Salami, no doubt, elicits different personalities, depending on what side he is being viewed from. Generally, he is seen as a courageous, pious and incorruptible judge.
Justice Salami was born on October 15, 1943 in Ganma, in Kwara State. He obtained the West African School Certificate (WASC) at the Provincial Secondary School, Kano in 1963. He bagged a Bachelor’s degree in Law from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in 1967 and was called to Bar on June 28, 1968, after the mandatory Law School training.
He began his career as a Collector of Customs and Excise Grade II, and in 1971 was transferred to North Central State Public Service Commission, where he served as State Counsel Grade II.
Justice Salami later became the Acting Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary of the Kaduna State Ministry of Justice, Kaduna before he was deployed to Kwara State in 1976 as a Senior State Counsel, where he later served as Acting Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Ilorin till 1978.
He later became a judge and was, in 2009, appointed president of the Court of Appeal, to succeed Justice Umaru Abdullahi. He later had a disagreement with the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, over the handling of Sokoto State governorship election dispute.
His travails started when the Court of Appeal, which he presided over upturned the 2007 gubernatorial election results of Ekiti and Osun states that had been awarded the PDP candidates, Segun Oni and Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and gave judgments in favour of the then Action Congress of Nigeria’s (ACN) candidates, Dr Kayode Fayemi and Rauf Aregbesola. Justice Salami then became an enemy of the PDP.
The last straw for Justice Salami, however, was a pending judgment in the Sokoto governorship election result that he alleged the then CJN, Justice Aloy Katsina-Alu told him to withhold for political reasons. He said Justice Dahiru Musdapher was a witness to the matter. The government said he lied under oath.
On August 2011, the National Judicial Council (NJC) suspended him on the grounds of his alleged refusal to apologise to the then CJN, who headed the NJC’s panel, which found him to have lied against the NJC.
Aside the indefinite suspension handed him, the NJC also recommended Justice Salami’s retirement to President Goodluck Jonathan. Jonathan agreed to suspend him, but did not retire him.
On May 2012, the NJC reversed itself and recommended Justice Salami’s immediate reinstatement by the President, a recommendation Jonathan disregarded. Justice Salami did not return to the Bench until he retired on October 15, 2013 at the mandatory age of 70 years.
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