ABUJA - The legal crisis in the Rivers State Judiciary worsened after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) condemned the amendment of the state judiciary law by Governor Rotimi Amaechi.
There have been tensions over the appointment of a substantive Chief Judge.
The Nigerian Judiciary Council (NJC) had insisted on appointing Justice Daisy Okocha to the position but the state government has remained averse to the move, choosing instead to appoint Justice Peter Agumagu as Chief Judge.
The NJC later nullified the appointment of Agumagu and since then, there has been no Chief Judge in the Rivers State Judiciary.
Both the NJC and the state government are currently before the courts on the contention of whose right it is to appoint as Chief Judge for the state.
While the matter persisted, the state governor earlier this week signed into law a bill hurriedly passed by the state assembly amending the state law on the appointment of a chief judge.
The new law allows the state governor to appoint a chief judge where there is a disagreement between the NJC and the state government.
The PDP has however described the new law as "laughable" and insisted it could not overide the constitution of the country, which stipulates approval by the NJC.
The party accused the governor for refusing to obey and respect the rule of law and separation of powers because he wanted to install a chief judge that he could control.
The party further said that the governor had exhausted his power, which was on the appointment of Agumagu as an acting Chief Judge for three months, pointing out that Amaechi’s insistence on him was because he wanted the chief judge he would manipulate.
“There is no lacuna in the law on the appointment of a chief judge. Let Rivers people be aware; let Nigerians be aware; let the whole world be aware of this. The governor is insisting on Agumagu because he has seen a stooge to use and Rivers people are saying no. The governor had lost his power after appointment of Agumagu for three months.”
“The lawmakers should know that any amendment on the rivers State High Court Law would be rejected. The lawmakers should stop disgracing Rivers people. They should know that they have a day with history. They should make laws for Rivers people and not for the governor," the party said.
- CAJ News