Law groups in Rivers State have collectively condemned the move by the Rivers State Governor, Chief (Barrister) Nyesom Wike, to impose a new Chief Judge.
The group, under the aegis of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) and the Concerned Lawyers in Rivers State, in different press statements issued in Port Harcourt yesterday expressed their displeasure at the diabolical move made by the governor to approve the recommendation and appointment of Justice Simeon Chibuzor Amadi as Chief Judge purely on clannish considerations.
The Groups noted that the incumbent Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Adama Iyayi Laminkanra , an indigene of Edo State, who would retire in May, 2021, was so appointed by the governor based on seniority. Governor Wike had said at the time of Justice Iyayi Laminkanra’s appointment that he would sustain the policy of seniority and precedence in judicial appointments.
The legal community stated that it is at a loss why Wike would abandon seniority and precedence so soon after it had suited him to overlook Honourable Justice Joy Akpughunum in the list sent by his Judicial Service Commission to the National Judicial Council for consideration for appointment to the office of Chief Judge even when she is erudite, calm, learned and filled with probity. Justice Akpughunum is the most senior judge, while Justice Simeon Amadi comes a distant second with Justice Teetito coming third.
According to the group, “What reasons informed the exclusion of Justice Joy Akpughunum, who, apart from being the most senior judge after the incumbent Chief Judge, is outstandingly brilliant, diligent, fair and most importantly, completely free of any smear of corruption?
“Why was the NJC mischievously presented with a fait accompli to make a choice between candidates that by judicial tradition ought to have been considered only after the most senior was found unworthy or unqualified by the NJC?”
The group stated that the governor cannot by-pass His Lordship, the Honourable Justice Joy N. Akpughunum, who has two more active years on the bench.
The press release from the Concerned Lawyers in Rivers State was signed by John Iyene Owubokiri and 11 others while that from the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) was signed by Pastor Ngozi Odukwe Ighosevebe.