NJC Suspends Rivers State Chief Judge

The last may not have been heard in the fiasco betweeb the Rivers State Government and National Judicial Council (NJC) as the latter has suspended the Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice P. N. C. Agumagu with immediate effect.
A statement signed by the Acting Director of Information of the Council, Mr Soji Oye, says the council took the decision at an emergency meeting on Wednesday.
The statement explained that Justice Agumagu’s appointment as the Chief Judge of Rivers State 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.
Apart from the suspension, Justice Agumagu has also been queried and asked to explain in writing within four days, why he should not be removed from office as a judicial officer for his failure to abide by his oath of office to uphold the constitution and laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The statement adds that the National Judicial Council did not at any time make any recommendation to the governor of Rivers State that  Justice P. N. C. Agumagu, President, Customary Court of Appeal, be appointed the substantive Chief Judge of Rivers State and will therefore not recognise him as the Chief Judge of Rivers State.
The statement reads, “At its 10th emergency meeting, which was held on the 26th March, 2014, the National Judicial Council under the chairmanship of Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Aloma Mariam Muktar, considered the purported appointment, confirmation and swearing-in of Hon. Justice P. N. C. Agumagu as the substantive Chief Judge of Rivers State on the 18th day of March, 2014.
“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.
“Council therefore resolved as follows:
“That the National Judicial Council does not and will not recognise Hon. Justice P.N.C. Agumagu as the Chief Judge of Rivers State.
“That the general public and all concerned in the matter, particularly the Governor of Rivers State, the Rivers State House of Assembly, the Judiciary in Rivers State, be notified and informed that the National Judicial Council will not deal with Hon. Justice P.N.C. Agumagu as the Chief Judge of Rivers State.
“That a query be issued to Hon. Justice P. N. C. Agumagu to explain in writing within four days, why he should not be removed from office as a judicial officer for his failure to abide by his Oath of Office to uphold the Constitution and Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“In the meantime, Council in exercise of its powers under paragraph 21 (d) of Part 1 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, has suspended Hon. Justice P. N. C. Agumagu from Office as a judicial officer with immediate effect.”

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