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Rivers: Agumagu’s CJ Appointment Heightens Tension

JUSTICE PETER AGUMAGU… It’s Rape On Constitution

…Ploy To Drag Judiciary Into Political Crisis

…Appointment followed due process 

The appointment of Justice Peter Agumagu, President of the Customary Court of Appeal in Rivers State as the Acting Chief Judge (CJ) of the state by Governor Chibuike Amaechi, has not only heightened tension but has attracted myriad of criticism.

Gov. Amaechi had Tuesday sworn in Justice Agumagu unceremoniously, a day after the incumbent CJ, Justice Iche Ndu retired after an elaborate valedictory ceremony that witnessed the absence of the Governor and his entire cabinet.

A development political analysts have severally criticized and condemned Amaechi while defending his action said Justice Agumagu is the most senior judge in the state and will hold office till the National Assembly approves the appointment of a substantive Chief Judge for he state. He charged the Acting CJ to, “discharge his responsible according to the law. We looked at your appointment as a judge of the High Court and compared it to the rest of the judges in the state and realized that you are the most senior judge of the High Court in Rivers State. We therefore took that decision to proceed with the appointment, I wish to congratulate you and say to you that you have an enormous assignment in these three months”, Amaechi stated.

The appointment however, has attracted angry reactions from several quarters.

First to react was a socio-political organization, known as Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI), believed to be used by the Minister of State for Education, Hon. Nyesom Wike and his group to drive the 2015 political ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan and to check the excesses of governor Amaechi.

Speaking through its president, Mr. Bright Amaewhule, the group described the appointment of Justice Agumagu as “a rape on the 1999 constitution of Nigeria”.

Amaewhule cited section 271(4) of the 1999 which states that, the appointee for the post of the chief judge must be “the most senior judge of the High Court” prior to the appointment, which he said governor Amaechi has violated by acting outside the purview of the constitution.

The GDI president accused the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Worgu Boms of misdirecting the governor to taking wrong decision.

The GDI boss also lashed out on Justice Agumagu accusing him of being hungry for the post of Chief Judge of the state in order to play effective ‘Cap-poodle’ to Amaechi. The reason he said is to use him (Agumagu) as point of contact in the state judiciary to terrorize perceived political opponents.

He urged the governor who he said has a non-performing cabinet and a comatose legislature not to drag the problem to the judiciary. Amaewhule said instead Amaechi should voluntarily resign from office, “since it is apparent that governor Amaechi is now completely bereft of ideas of governance, observance of the rule of law and due process”.

Many political analysts have continued to criticize the appointment of Agumagu.

Barr. Higher King has described the decision as complete violation of the constitution of the country.

He condemned the action of the governor, which he said has flouted due process for such appointment.

In a quick reaction, the chairman of the League of Rivers State lawyers in Abuja, Mr. Timi Briggs said the appointment of Justice Agumagu as Chief Judge of the state as against Justice Daisy Okocha who has been recommended by the National Judicial Commission (NJC), is a slap on NJC.

Mr. Briggs reminded Amaechi that the judiciary is an independent arm of government, which serves as the last hope of the common-man. According to him, the function of the judiciary is so peculiar that it should not be left in the hands of any other arm of government for fear of being abused.

Meanwhile some social commentators have also condemned the refusal of governor Amaechi and his cabinet to attend the valedictory ceremonies of the retired Chief judge, Justice Iche Ndu after his meritorious service as Chief Judge of the State.

Speaking to newsmen, Mr. Opunabo Inko-Tariah said the governor has no excuse whatsoever not to have attended the Justice Ndu’s valedictory ceremony. Inko-Tariah who is also the publisher of the Hard Truth Newspaper said if the governor could storm the Rivers State House of Assembly during the fracas, why should he not attend the former CJ’s farewell event.

According to him, as the Chief Security Officer of the state, opposition ought to run away for the governor and not the other way round as witnessed at the Ndu’s valedictory ceremony.

To Inko-Tariah under no guise should governor Amaechi boycott the Chief Judge’s retirement ceremony. ###

Barth Ndu

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