NJC Suspends Rivers State Chief Judge

The National Judicial Council, NJC, has suspended the Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice P. N. C. Agumagu, for illegally occupying the position.

A statement from the acting director of information in the NJC, Soji Oye, said the Council decided at an emergency meeting on Wednesday that Agumagu’s appointment did not comply with the provisions of Section 271 of the 1999 Constitution, which stipulates that a state governor must appoint a Chief Judge on the recommendation of the NJC.

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The NJC stressed that it did not recommend Justice Agumagu for appointment as the state’s Chief Judge.

The suspension, according to the statement, is with immediate effect.

Besides the suspension, Justice Agumagu also risks dismissal as the NJC has queried him, asking him to explain why he should not be dismissed as a judicial officer for failing to abide by his oath of office.

The NJC action puts a twist to the saga of appointing a new Chief Judge for Rivers State. The Federal High Court in Port Harcourt last Tuesday nullified the NJC’s recommendation that Justice Daisy Okocha be appointed Chief Judge of the state.

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Justice Lambo Akanbi, in his judgment, held that the “NJC recommendation is wrong”, because the council gave no reasons why it preferred Okocha to Justice Peter Agumagu.

“The governor is not a rubber stamp governor. The role of NJC is advisory; the governor has the right to accept or not; he is not a rubber stamp governor,” the judge said.

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Akanbi said the Rivers Judicial Council (RJC) and NJC had the constitutional powers to advise the governor, but that the NJC was expected to collaboration with Rivers Council.

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