Court nullifies appointment of Rivers acting-Chief Judge

A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has nullified the appointment of Justice Peter Agumagu as the Acting Chief Judge of Rivers State.

The court also directed the state governor to comply with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution on the appointment of an acting chief judge for the state.

The Kengena Unity Forum led by Boma Goodhead and Ajenyanate Samuel had gone to court to challenge Agumagu’s appointment as an acting chief judge of the state by the State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi.

The plaintiff maintained that the state governor erred by appointing an acting chief judge from the Customary Court as against the provisions of the Constitution that the most senior judge from the State High Court should be selected as the acting chief judge.

It will be recalled that the state governor, on August 20, 2013 swore in Justice Agumagu, who was then the President of the Customary Appeal Court in the state, as the acting state chief judge.

Agumagu’s appointment last year came on the heels of the retirement of former chief judge of the state, Justice Iche Ndu.

But ruling on the matter on Wednesday, the presiding judge, Justice Lambo Akanbi, described the controversy surrounding the appointment of an acting chief judge as needless, adding that the 1999 Constitution was explicit on matter.

Akanbi, however, did not give consent to the plea that Justice Daisy Okocha of the State High Court be directed to take charge as the Acting Chief Judge of the State, adding that doing otherwise would mean usurping the powers of the governor and the National Judicial Commission to make such appointment.