Controversy over swearing-in of 15 new magistrates in Delta

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By Emma Arubi
WARRI—THE recent swearing-in of fifteen new Magistrates into the Delta State Judiciary is generating storm, as the State Judicial Service Commission (DSJSC) and Warri branch of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) denied knowledge of the appointment.

Vanguard investigation revealed that the Chief Judge of the state, Hon. Justice Rosaline Bozimo, during the current recess by courts in the state, last Monday, swore in 15 new Magistrates without the presence of any member of the DSJSC, an action being currently resisted by some members of the Bar in the state.

Speaking on telephone with Vanguard, a member of the DSJSC, Chief Iwhewhe, said the courts were on break and that they have not held any meeting to deliberate on the appointment of any Magistrate in the state, saying he was not aware that any magistrate was recently appointed.

But Secretary of the DSJSC, Mrs Omovie, said the Commission’s members were aware of the development, stating that the exercise was in continuation of a previous appointment made in the state a few months back.

Warri branch Chairman of the NBA, Dr. Rufus Giwa, also claimed ignorance of the appointment as he said they were never consulted to make any input, stating that they were the ones familiar mostly with the lawyers in the state and therefore were in a position to make recommendation to the state as appropriate.

Said he: “If what we are hearing is true, then it is very wrong. It is even against the constitution.”

Vanguard authoritatively gathered that undue pressure was said to have been mounted on the Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan by some powerful Deltans whose nominees did not scale the hurdles during the interview and last appointment made into the Judiciary.

The governor was then alleged to have breathed down the neck of the state Chief Judge who had no choice but succumb to the pressure of making the secret appointment last Monday without recourse to the NBA and DSJSC.

At press time, very senior members of Warri NBA and some members of the DSJSC were said to be spoiling for confrontation with the Chief Judge over the matter, describing it as unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect .

They also reportedly threatened to drag the matter to the attention of the National Judicial Commission, as even the appointment does not reflect the ethnic diversity of the state.

All attempt to get the Chief Judge on telephone for her comment proved abortive, but a close source told Vanguard that she only did the bidding of the state governor.

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