The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has said he will not succumb to intimidation or sentiment on who becomes the next Chief Judge of the state, saying he has conveyed to the state House of Assembly the letter of recommendation from the National Judicial Commission.
Wike spoke while receiving a delegation of the Okpo Club of Nigeria on a courtesy visit at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
He said the process of appointing a substantive chief judge should be based on the constitution, and not sentiment.
“I have conveyed the NJC’s recommendation to the House of Assembly. I am not the one who recommended; mine is to act on the recommendation of the NJC. I never wrote a letter to the NJC; I am not a member of the Judicial Service Commission,” he stated.
Wike, in a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Media, Kelvin Ebiri, said the names of two most senior judges of the state High Court were submitted by the state judicial service commission to the NJC early in order to avoid the situation of having a chief judge in acting capacity.
“Nobody can intimidate me with any kind of sentiment. I will do what is right. We knew the crisis that happened in this state and people do not want to distinguish it. What was the crisis?
“JSC submitted Daisy Okocha’s name and Agumagu’s name. Of course, Daisy Okocha was the most senior. But even at that, Agumagu was the President of the Customary Court of Appeal. NJC, in their wisdom, said no, we are going to recommend the most senior judge and recommended Daisy Okocha.
“The then governor said no, I will not take the recommendation of NJC and went on his own to swear in Agumagu as acting chief judge. The constitution is very clear. It is only the most senior that will be an acting chief judge and that was the crisis.
“In this case, there is nothing like acting chief judge. I don’t want to have an acting chief judge. I want to do my own thing on time and we did it on time. And JSC in their wisdom submitted two people’s names and NJC recommended one and you are now playing politics that it is the governor,” Wike said.
The governor said the NJC was constitutionally empowered to recommend a chief judge and stressed that it was mischievous for the International Federation of Women Lawyers and some lawyers to politicise the appointment of judicial officers by the NJC.
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