THE crisis rocking Rivers State judiciary has taken a new twist as embattled Justice Daisy Okocha has filed a suit before the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt seeking to restrain the state governor, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, the National Judicial Council (NJC) and others from appointing anyone as substantive Chief Judge for the state.
Okocha is also seeking the court to declare that in the absence of a Chief Judge, the governor was duty bound to declare that she, being the most senior judge of the state High Court, should perform the functions of the office in acting capacity.
It would be recalled that the NJC had recommended Justice Okocha as the next Chief Judge after the retirement of Justice Ichechi Nwenenda Ndu, in August, 2013. But Governor Amaechi had brushed aside the recommendation and appointed Justice Peter Agumagu, then President of the Customary Court of Appeal, to fill the position. This action has since left the judiciary in a limbo.
Miffed by the decision of Governor Amaechi to appoint Justice Agumagu as the acting and later substantive Chief Judge after Justice Lambo Akanbi of the Federal High Court had ruled that the NJC erred in recommending Justice Okocha instead of Justice Agumagu, the NJC went further to suspend Justice Agumagu.
But Okocha in the suit, FHC/PHC/CS/03/2015, in which the NJC is the first defendant; the Rivers State Judicial Service Commission the second defendant and the Rivers governor as the third defendant, she prayed the court to compel the state governor to declare her Chief Judge in an acting capacity.