The last appeared not to have been heard about the lingering crisis in Rivers state judiciary where Governor Rotimi Amechi is locked in a battle of wits with the National Judicial Council, NJC, over the appointment of a substantive Chief Judge for the state judiciary.
The governor had on the 18th March sworn in Justice P. N. C Agumagu as the substantive Chief Judge of the state but without the recommendation of the NJC, which is a constitutional requirement for such appointment.
At an emergency meeting of the Council at Abuja on Wednesday, the NJC in the course of deliberations on the Rivers state matter noted that section 271 (1) of the Constitution provides that appointment of a person to the Office of the Chief Judge of a State shall be made by the Governor of the State on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, subject to the confirmation of the appointment by the House of Assembly of the State and observed that the National Judicial Council did not at any time make any recommendation to the Governor of Rivers State for Justice Agumagu, who was hitherto the President of Customary Court of Appeal, to be appointed the substantive Chief Judge of Rivers State.
The Council thereafter resolved that it does not and will not recognize Justice Agumagu as the Chief Judge of Rivers state and called on the general public and all concerned in the matter, particularly the Governor of Rivers state, the Rivers State House of Assembly, the Judiciary in Rivers State, to be notified and informed that the National Judicial Council will not deal with Justice Agumagu as the Chief Judge of Rivers State.
In furtherance to the Council’s powers under Paragraph 21 (d) of Part 1 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, the NJC thereafter suspended Justice Agumagu from office as a Judicial Officer with immediate effect.
It also resolved to issue a query to the judge to explain in writing within four days, why he should not be removed from office as a Judicial Officer for his failure to abide by his Oath of Office to uphold the Constitution and Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.