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Court kick out Agumagu as Rivers Acting CJ

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From Vivian Israel, Port Harcourt
A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, yesterday Nullified the appointment of Justice Peter Agumagu, as the acting chief Judge of the state .
The court after it judgment further ordered the Rivers state governor, Chibuike  Amaechi , to appoint an acting chief judge in conformity to the provisions of the 1999 constitution.
Delivering the Judgment on the case instituted by Boma Goodhead including three others against the state’s attorney general, Justice Lambo Akanbi, stated that 1999 constitution was clear on who should be appointed acting chief judge of the state.
Before now, a group known as Kengena Unity Forum had challenged the governor Amaechi’s selection of Agumagu as the acting judge of the state.
According to Justice Akanbi, the constitution was clear that the senior judge in the State High Court should be picked to occupy the position whenever it was vacant.
He also refused to accept the prayers of the plaintiff that an order be given for justice Daisy Okocha to take charge as the acting chief judge of the state.
Justice Akanbi maintained that agreeing to the prayer of the plaintiff would amount to usurping the powers of the governor and the Judicial Commission , NJC,  on which judge occupies the position.
Hear him, “ The question as to who qualifies to be appointed as acting chief judge of the state has generated a lot of needless controversy. The provision of section 271, sub-section 4 of the constitution is very clear, explicit and without ambiguity.
“It says the governor shall appoint the most senior judge of the High Court. The question is, who is Justice P.N.C Agumagu and where does he belong? Is he a judge of the High Court of Rivers state, appointed pursuant to the provision of section 270, sub-section 1 of the constitution or a judge of the customary Court of Appeal under section 280, sub-section 1 of the same constitution”
 “The inevitable conclusion I have reached is that justice Agumagu, is not qualified as a state High Court Judge, hence he is not suitable and unqualified to be appointed as acting chief judge of the High Court of Rivers state”.
“the only consequential order I should make in the circumstance is to direct the governor to comply with the constitutional provision on the appointment of an Acting Chief Judge of the state High Court as provided under section 271, sub-section 4 of the 199 constitution. That shall be judgment of the court”
Meawhile, The Rivers state Commissioner  for Information and Communications, Mrs Ibim Semenitari  in a statement released to journalists commended Justice Akanbi for not grant the relief sought by the plaintiff Kengema Unity Forum.
The statement said   Justice Akanbi has strengthened the position of the Rivers state Government that the governor of a state cannot be stampeded to appoint a particular candidate as chief judge.
It equally said the Rivers state government intends to seek further clarification on the rather contradictory position of the judge that the appointment of the Justice P.N.C Agumagu as acting chief Judge was illegal, from the higher courts.

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