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Okocha drags Rotimi Amaechi, NJC to court


AS the judiciary crisis in Rivers State remains unabated, embattled Justice Daisy Okocha  has dragged the National Judicial Council (NJC), Governor Chibuike Amaechi and three others, to a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, to stop them from appointing any other person  as substantive Chief Judge for the state except her.

  Justice Okocha, in suit number FHC/PHC/CS/03/2015, with the NJC, Rivers State Judicial Service Commission, Governor of Rivers State, as first, second and third defendants respectively, urged the Court  to declare that the state governor  lacked powers under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to appoint a Chief Judge for the state without the recommendations of the NJC.

    She also prayed  the court to declare that NJC could only grant recommendations of the State Judicial Service Commission, only when it is properly constituted in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.

   Justice Okocha, who was tipped for the position of chief judge by anti-Amaechi supporters, argued that  a properly constituted Rivers State Judicial Service Commission, must have the chief judge of the state or an acting chief judge, as chairman.

   Okocha in her petition, urged the court to declare that the Attorney-General of the state, who is the 5th defendant and Chief Registrar of High Court of the State, the 6th defendant, had no constitutional powers to assume the duties and office of the chairman of the state judicial service commission.

   Also, Okocha sought the court to  declare that, in the  absence of a chief judge, the governor was duty bound to declare that she (Okocha), being  the most senior judge of the State High Court, should assume the functions of a Chief Judge in acting capacity.

  “A declaration that the plaintiff being the most senior judge in the hierarchy of the judges of the High Court of Rivers State is the person eligible and entitled to be appointed to perform for the time being, the functions and exercise the powers of the office of Chief  Judge of Rivers State,” she stated

  Okocha also asked  the court to restrain the governor from appointing another person other than herself, as the acting Chief Judge of the state.

   Continuing, she prayed  the court to restrain the first to 6th defendants “or their servants, agents or privies from selecting,  nominating, recommending or howsoever  putting forward any person for appointment as Chief Judge of Rivers State, based on the advice of the second defendant as presently constituted or based on the advice of the Rivers State Judicial service Commission  except that under the headship of the acting chief judge as chairman, who must be the most senior judge of the High Court of Rivers State as constitutionally stipulated, pending the determination of this suit.

  She further sought the court to restrain the second to sixth defendants from stopping her from discharging her functions as the most senior judge of the High Court of the state.

   The matter was adjourned till March 9, this year, for hearing.

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