Nnwonda Okachikwu Dibia,
Nkalem ji meka oo.
I have just read your piece which I consider very interesting. I appreciate your concern for the well-being of our dear State vis-a-vis the unnecessarily protracted political face-off between Governor Amaechi and President Jonathan. I verily agree with you that, as long as that face-off continues, it is the State, as opposed to the two gladiators that suffers.
Having said that, I must draw attention to the subjective nature of your judgement – tilting heavily against Amaechi. You seem to have dropped every blame on the causes (both remote and immediate) of the Jonathan/Amaechi face-off at the doorsteps of Amaechi. I think you are wrong in your perception. I would rather hold President Jonathan responsible for the ugly relationship that now exist between him and Governor Amaechi.
Amaechi versus NJC:
On this issue, you said inter alia that, “My interpretation, as a non-lawyer, of the relevant sections of the Constitution is that the governor should appoint whoever NJC recommended to it and the same person should be confirmed by the state’s House of Assembly.” By Okachikwu Dibia.
Let’s refer to the Constitution and see what it exactly states:
270 –

(1) There shall be a High Court for each State of the Federation.

(2) The High Court of a State shall consist of –

(a) a Chief Judge of the State; and

(b) such members of Judges of the High Court as may be prescribed by a Law of the House of Assembly of the State.
271 –

(1) The appointment of a person to the office of Chief Judge of a State shall be made by the Governor of the State on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council subject to confirmation of the appointment by the House of Assembly of the State.

(2) The appointment of a person to the office of a Judge of a High Court of a State shall be made by the Governor of the State acting on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council.
(3) A person shall not be qualified to hold office of a Judge of a High Court of a State unless he is qualified to practice as a legal practitioner in Nigeria and has been so qualified for a period of not less than ten years.
(4) If the office of Chief Judge of a State is vacant or if the person holding the office is for any person unable to perform the functions of the office, then until a person has been appointed to and has assumed the functions of that office, or until the person holding the office has resumed those functions, the Governor of the State shall appoint the most senior Judge of the High Court to perform those functions.
(5) Except on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council an appointment pursuant to subsection (4) of this section shall cease to have effect after expiration of three months from the date of such appointment and the Governor shall not re-appoint a person whose appointment has lapsed.
If you read 271(1) carefully, you will notice that the Constitution gives the Governor – not the NJC the power to appoint the Chief Judge of the state, on the recommendation of the NJC. My understanding of the word “recommendation” is suggestion. And if my understanding is correct, the Governor ipso facto is not bound to accept the recommendation (suggestion) of the NJC. He could reject their recommendation for whatever reasons and ask them to go back to the drawing board to make an alternative recommendation. It is only when the Governor accepts the recommendation of the NJC and appoints the recommended person that the House of Assembly ratifies the appointment.
There is nowhere in the Constitution that says that “the Governor SHOULD appoint whoever the NJC recommended…” Please read it over again.
Sub-section 271(3) of the same Constitution (as excerpted above) even allows a recommendation for a Chief Judge of the State to be made amongst practicing lawyers – not necessarily limiting it to High Court judges, provided such a lawyer has practiced as a legal practitioner in Nigeria for a period not less than 10 years.
Sub-section 271(4) gives the Governor of the State and not the NJC the power to appoint an Acting Chief Judge (for a period not more than three months) who should be the most senior judge of the bench in the event of a vacancy.
In the current imbroglio in our common State, not only is the NJC fixated on their recommendation (suggestion) even when the Governor rejected it, they actually went ahead to APPOINT – not recommend their choice as the substantive CJ of Rivers State. Haba! If that is not acting ultra vires, what else is? Amaechi or anyone could unwittingly flout the law based on wrong advice and be excused, but not when NJC – a body that should be an epitome of Law, rule and regulation flouting the same Law and you go about blaming Amaechi for it. Nyedikne Okachikwu Dibia, I don’t agree with you. Ozeo, ndoo, onweisi, nkwem!
The only area I find Amaechi wanting on this issue is where he failed to ask the NJC to go back to the drawing board and make another recommendation, instead of jumping the gun to appoint a substantive Judge without that element of “recommendation” from the NJC as required by the Constitution.
In all of these, if anything happens to the Rivers State Judiciary, the NJC should be held responsible!
Amaechi versus Rebisi Kingdom:
You did not compare like with like when you said inter alia, that,

“The duty of the state here is to appreciate such peaceful resolution, accept their verdict and recognize whoever they presented to him. Like in the NJC-Rivers State Judiciary case, the kingmakers are the professionals who know far better than the governor who should lead them.”  –  By Okachikwu Dibia.

Traditional stool is completely a different scenario from the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Whilst I agree absolutely that Governor Amaechi should respect the verdict of the Kingmakers (on the basis of your report though), I totally refuse to see the role of the kingmakers the same as the role of the NJC in the appointment of a state’s Chief Judge.

Amaechi in APC:

You opined inter alia, “Why did Amaechi leave the ruling PDP for APC? According to him, it was because the PDP under Alh. Bamanga Tukur had become too undemocratic. But Tukur is no longer there; so Amaechi could as well go back to PDP. Then the question would be: in whose interest would Amaechi pursue in PDP? Would that interest be different from that which took him to APC?

Nnwonda Okachikwu, are you sure of what you stated above or you are just looking for a way to blame Amaechi at all cost? To the best of my knowledge and belief, those on the loco parentis in PDP in Rivers State, denied Amaechi access to the Party’s structure in the State and finally expelled him and ALL the government functionaries (EXCO, Chairmen and Heads of parastatals, LG Chairmen, etc) and usurped all the powers in the party. In other words, Amaechi governed the State without any party structure. Any wonder 5 out of 32 legislators were given the go ahead to impeach the legitimate Speaker of the House. Did you not hear about this account or you have just forgotten so soon?

Even when the stalwarts of the APC came knocking at Amaechi’s door in PH, did you not read Amaechi telling them that he would hear first from his “brother”, the President?

Nyedikne, so if you were in Amaechi’s position you would wait to be thrown out of your elected office by members of your party with high propensity to haughtiness? Sorry, if I were in Amaechi’s position, I won’t let them destroy my political career for their excitement, whims and caprices. Truth is that they pushed Amaechi to the APC and not what you stated above.

Amaechi versus Jonathan:

You said inter alia that, “A very good political behavior should be borrowed from Ekiti State where Fayose, despite winning the election recognized that Fayemi is still his governor and paid respect to him. This is the respect I need Amaechi to pay to Mr. President and all other things would be added unto Amaechi. I am sure, knowing the kind of person our President is, he will wholeheartedly receive Amaechi and peace will reign in Rivers State and all the other parasitic issues and their champions will fall and fail like pack of cards.”  By Okachikwu Dibia

The last time I checked, there has never been a time Amaechi did not recognise Jonathan as his President and indeed brother. So what has Foyose said about Fayemi that Amaechi has not said about Jonathan? Instead Jonathan was he who went ahead to illegally recognise Jonah Jang as the Chairman of the NGF when Amaechi was the one given the mandate by the voting governors, he seized Amaechi’s aircraft and allowed other governors to cruise with theirs, he ceded oil wells belonging to Rivers State to Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Abia states, he refused to have any Federal presence in Rivers State despite the huge contribution of the State to the economy of Nigeria – thanks to him for the Polytechnic that he has just recently decided to site in Bonny.

So, Nnwonda Okachikwu Dibia, what other punishment would Rivers State undergo in the hands of President Jonathan in his second coming that it has not undergone in his first term?

As opposed to Amaechi, I roundly and squarely hold Jonathan responsible for the face-off between him and Amaechi.Your headline should have read “Softly, Softly Jonathan”.

Meka, meka, meka!

Emeka Reuben Okala

London, UK