'Why NJC Chose Justice Okocha As Acting Rivers CJ'
SAN FRANCISCO, June 04, (THEWILL) â€' Amid the controversy surrounding her appointment, the National Judicial Council (NJC) Tuesday justified its action in appointing Justice Daisy â€ŽOkocha as Acting. Chief Judge of Rivers State, saying she was the most senior judge in the state high court.
In a statement issued in Abuja by the Council's Acting Director, Information, Mr Soji Oye, NJC explained that the absence of a Chief Judge in the state had brought untold hardship to litigants.
According to the statement, the council, at a meeting held on May 27 deliberated on the current state of affairs in the Rivers State judiciary and noted with concern non-appointment of a substantive chief judge or Acting Chief Judge for Rivers State and its attendant consequences on the general administration of justice, particularly vis-Ã -vis assignment of cases and other related administrative duties in both the High Court and the Customary Court of Appeal of Rivers State.
'Consequently, in the exercise of its constitutional powers, Council decided as follows:â€Ž
(i) That the most senior judge in the High Court of Justice of Rivers State Judiciary should perform the functions of assigning cases to all the judges of the court and also carry out other related administrative duties.
(ii). That the most senior Judge in the Customary Court of Appeal of Rivers State Judiciary should perform the functions of assigning cases and also carry out other related administrative duties.,' the statement explained.
NJC maintained that its decision was to ensure that there was no vacuum and that administration of justice runs smoothly.
It must be noted that following the suspension of Justice Peter Agumagu, the state's judiciary had been â€Žwithout a substantive Chief Judge.
Agumagu is already before the court challenging his suspension. But the State Government has rejected the appointment of Okocha claiming that it violated the constitution and the judgment of a Federal High Court delivered by â€ŽJustice Lawal Akanbi.