Rivers accuses NJC of interference in its judiciary
•‘Plans to appoint Okocha CJ’
The Rivers State Government has raised the alarm on the surreptitious move by the National Judicial Council (NJC) to appoint, through the back door, Justice Daisy Wotube Okocha as the Chief Judge of the state.
It also revealed the plan by the NJC to direct all the judges of the Rivers state judiciary to accept directives and instructions from Okocha, in CJ’s capacity, but “clearly” against the judgment of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, which voided her recommendation by the NJC.
The administration of Rotimi Amaechi, also accused the NJC of continuing interference with the administration of justice in Rivers state.
The Rivers Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, yesterday in Port Harcourt, called on Nigerians to hold the NJC and its leadership solely responsible for any breakdown of law and order in the state.
Daisy is the immediate elder sister of a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), O.C.J. Okocha, SAN, who is a member of the NJC. Amaechi had inaugurated the most senior judge of Rivers judiciary, Justice Peter Agumagu, as the CJ.
Rivers government said: “The NJC, to disguise its disrespect for the law and give the impression that it is acting within the law, has planned to christen Justice Daisy Wotube Okocha as an ‘Administrative Judge’ with powers to perform the functions of the Chief Judge, especially the assignment of cases.
“The Rivers State Government wonders what special interest the Chief Justice of Nigeria (Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar) in person and the NJC in general, have in Rivers State and its Judiciary, as to contemplate such obviously unconstitutional and illegal act against the state judiciary, which act is also contemptuous of a Federal High Court’s judgment, which has voided NJC’s recommendation of Justice Daisy Wotube Okocha for appointment as Chief Judge of Rivers State.
“The Rivers State Government wishes to state that by the State’s High Court Law, it is the Chief Judge that has powers to distribute the business of courts, (otherwise popularly known as assignment of cases), to Judges and not any other person, whether known as Administrative or Most Senior Judge as the NJC wishes to contrive.
“The contraption and contrivance known as ‘Administrative Judge’ to perform the functions of a State Chief Judge is unknown to both the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Rivers State’s High Court Law.”
Amaechi’s administration also reiterated that all issues pertaining to the matter of Justice Okocha and her desire to be the CJ of Rivers state, with the active support of the NJC, were subject of litigation in various courts, including the one Justice Okocha appealed.
Rivers government said: “We demand that the NJC should obey the Nigerian Constitution (which vests appointment of judges, all category of judges, on the governor); obey the judgment of the courts (which judgment has voided its recommendation of Justice Daisy Wotube Okocha for appointment as the Chief Judge of Rivers State) and refrain from its continuing meddling in the administration of Justice in Rivers State, as it is clearly doing.
“Rivers State Government wishes to state that it shall administratively and legally use all ways and means known to law, including its powers under the Constitution and all other extant laws, to resist the over-aching desire and attempts by some politicians in the NJC, who hope to use their membership of the NJC to hijack the Rivers State Judiciary for their group’s political ends, while pretending to be politically neutral.
“We are constrained to call on Nigerians to hold the Body (NJC) and its leadership solely responsible for any breakdown of law and order, which its planned intermeddling with the administration of justice in Rivers State shall inexorably occasion.”
The Amaechi’s administration also stated that it held the NJC, as a body, in high esteem, especially because its members are eminent members of the learned profession of Law
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