BY IKECHUKWU NNOCHIRI
ABUJA — The National Judicial Council, NJC, yesterday, suspended the Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice P. N. C. Agumagu, from office, and directed that he should, within four days, explain in writing why he should not be sacked as a judicial officer.
The Council, which took the decision at the end of an emergency meeting in Abuja, said it suspended the Rivers CJ over his failure to abide by the Oath of Office he took to uphold the Constitution and Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
A press statement by the Acting Director of Information at the NJC, Mr. Soji Oye, read: “At its 10th Emergency Meeting, which was held on March 26, 2014, the National Judicial Council under the Chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Aloma Mariam Muktar (GCON), considered the purported appointment, confirmation and swearing-in of Hon. Justice P. N. C. Agumagu as the substantive Chief Judge of Rivers State on March 18, 2014.
”In the course of deliberations on the matter, Council noted as follows: That it is expressly provided in Section 271 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) that:-The Appointment of a person to the Office of the Chief Judge of a state shall be made by the governor of the state on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, subject to the confirmation of the appointment by the House of Assembly of the state.
”That the National Judicial Council did not at any time make any recommendation to the governor of Rivers State that Justice Agumagu, President, Customary Court of Appeal, be appointed the substantive Chief Judge of Rivers State.
”Council, therefore, resolved as follows: That the National Judicial Council does not, and will not recognise Justice Agumagu as the Chief Judge of Rivers State.
”That the general public and all concerned in the matter, particularly the governor of Rivers State, the Rivers State House of Assembly, the Judiciary in Rivers State, be notified and informed that the National Judicial Council will not deal with Justice Agumagu as the Chief Judge of Rivers State;
”That a query be issued to Justice Agumagu to explain in writing within four (4) days, why he should not be removed from office as a judicial officer for his failure to abide by his oath of office to uphold the Constitution and laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
”In the meantime, Council in exercise of its powers under Paragraph 21 (d) of Part 1 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution has suspended Justice Agumagu from office as a judicial officer with immediate effect.”