Friday, 28 March 2014

NJC suspends Rivers Chief Judge With Immediate Effect

The National Judicial Council has suspended the Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice P. N. C. Agumagu with immediate effect.

A statement from the Acting Director of Information in the NJC, Mr. Soji Oye, said the Council took the decision at an emergency meeting on Wednesday.
The statement explained that Justice Agumagu’s appointment was illegal, as it did not comply with the provisions of section 271 of the 1999 Constitution, which stipulated that a state governor must appoint a Chief Judge on the recommendation of the NJC.

Besides the suspension, Justice Agumagu is also facing dismissal as the NJC has queried him, asking him to explain why he should not be dismissed as a judicial officer for failing to abide by his Oath of Office.

In the course of deliberations on the matter, Council noted that it is expressly provided in Section 271 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) that the 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.

The National Judicial Council did not at any time make any recommendation to the Governor of Rivers State that Hon. Justice P. N. C. Agumagu, President, Customary Court of Appeal, be appointed the substantive Chief Judge of Rivers State.

..............Some comments from people.....................
Pray! It is the same Amaechi that would ratify the dismissal, and even the suspension. NJC should have been more concerned in appealing against the judgment of the Federal High Court that allowed Amaechi to swear in the Judge. The judicial council must not be seen as usurping the powers of a court of law. If they desire to enforce the law, they must first obey the law. Court judgments are sacrosanct, and until they are upturned, it should be obeyed....and especially, by the NJC !

........Well, I beg to differ a bit. I am not a politician and thus don't have the prerogative to make political comments. But as far as this Chief Judge of Rivers State High Court appointment goes, I think the NJC was a bit hasty in their decision, given that there was a judgment delivered by a Federal High Court, in favour of the appointment of the allegedly suspended Chief Judge. As rightly pointed out by Obinna above, the NJC should not constitute itself into an alternate appellate court, as they are not also superior to any court of law established by the Constitution. Their power is merely quasi-judicial in nature, that is, a mixture of administrative and judicial powers, as opposed to a court of law recognized by the Constitution. The NJC should first and foremost challenge the judgment of the Federal High Court and ensure that its orders are vacated before taking any action. I think in this case, they are over-sanitizing the system!

.......Well said. I am sure the NJC understands all of the issues you have raised. My point is that the governor should done the right thing from the onset by appointment the most senior judge as it is stipulated by the law to avoid all of these legal bottlenecks. He needs to pick his fights WISELY if he wants to win the empathy of the masses which he is is losing on a rapid rate and safeguard his political ambition. He certainly doesn't to throw his hat into every ring. The way people perceive you matters a lot you know, even in politics.

Source: The Punch 

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