A legal luminary, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has described the appointment of acting Rivers State Chief Judge by Nyesom Wike as illegal. Wike made the announcement shortly after he was sworn-in on Friday.
However, in a statement obtained on Friday, Adegboruwa condemned his decision.
Read full statement below-
“It is heart warming that the erstwhile Governor-elect of Rivers State, Hon Nyesom Wike, has now been sworn in to fully assume his mandate as the governor, given the needless controversy and tension that sorrounded the exercise. In the course of his inaugural speech, the governor announced the appointment of the Hon Justice Daisy Okocha, as the substantive Hon Chief Judge of Rivers State, to be sworn in on Monday, June 1.
The appointment of a state chief judge is regulated by section 271(1) of the 1999 Constitution, which stipulates that such appointment will be made by the governor, acting upon the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, subject to confirmation by the House of Assembly of the State.
I have no doubt that the Hon Justice Daisy Okocha may be eminently qualified to be elevated to the exalted office of the Hon Chief Judge of Rivers State, but such announcement, of a statutory appointment, on the podium, on the very day of inauguration, belittles the Constitution. Governor Nyesom Wike is well entitled to constitute his entire cabinet at the stadium today, during his swearing in, as the Constitution gives him very wide discretion in that regard, without any condition.
However, the office of the Hon Chief Judge of a state, is not such as to be contained in the inaugural speech of a governor, who has not even resumed in office, how much less become aware of any recommendation from the national judicial council, which is a pre-condition for the appointment. This has only gone to prove how deep rooted governor Wike was, in the whole crisis rocking the Rivers State judiciary, and indeed a painful vindication of former governor Amaechi’s allegation of external influence, in the state judiciary palaver.
Whereas we are glad with governors who are serious minded and action conscious, given the years of rot and stagnation that our nation has witnessed, such national enthusiasm, for immediate performance, should not be mistaken for a tolerance of very rash decisions, that seem to rubbish mandatory constitutional requirements.
The question to ask is this: how did Nyesom Wike, as governor-elect, get to know of the official recommendation of the national judicial council, in respect of Rivers State chief judge, as to then announce her appointment, on the very day of his inauguration. We should endeavor not to make governance seem like acting or some form of comedy of errors. And the governor then announced that the new chief judge will be sworn in on Monday June 1, when the state house of assembly has not met to confirm the inauguration appointment. This is totally uncalled for.
There is need for our leaders to be well advised and properly guided, before taking fundamental decisions affecting the body polity. In this case for instance, wise counsel dictates that the governor should have been better advised by his attorney-general, on the issue of appointment of the Hon Chief Judge, after his cabinet has been duly constituted.