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The sudden emergence of Hon. Justice Simeon C. Amadi as Chief Judge of Rivers State has been described as shocking and against the earlier recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The NJC had recommended his Lordship, Hon. Justice Joy Akpughunum, a woman from Abua/Odual Local Government Area, and the most senior Judge of the State High Court.
A group, Network for the Defense of Democratic and Good Governance (NDDGG) while raising concerns in a statement made available to DAILY POST on Friday, said the long time tradition of appointing Chief Judges of Rivers State has been distorted by Governor Nyesom Wike.
In a signed statement by the group’s leader and Founder, Sobomabo Jackrich, the group called for a reversal and asked the governor to strictly follow the civil service rules.
The statement reads: “It has been a convention in the legal/judicial practice and the civil service that the order of seniority should be followed in such and other appointments.
“Whereas, Hon. Justice Joy Akpughunum is naturally the rightful candidate, next in line for the appointment as the Chief Judge of Rivers State, being a senior to the respected Hon. Justice S. C. Amadi.
“Unfortunately, the Governor who himself is a lawyer, a member of the Body of Benchers and a Life Bencher, has allowed his vested interest to becloud his judgment.
“Therefore his personal interest is in conflict with that of the state in the circumstance.
“He has either misled the National Judicial Council – NJC by nominating and transmitting the name of his kinsman, Hon. Justice Amadi from Emohua Local Government Area, who has now been recommended for appointment as the Chief Judge of Rivers State.
“The NDDGG wishes to remind Governor Wike that one of the loopholes he used to have a smooth ride into the Brick House in 2014/2015, was making the issue of the appointment of a Chief Judge in Rivers State a major political campaign point when he joined at various fora to insist that the most Senior Judge of the State High Court should be appointed chief Judge by the then Governor, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi.
“He publicly fought against the refusal of Former Governor Rotimi Amaechi to nominate and transmit the name of her Lordship, the Hon Justice Adama Iyayi Lamikanra who was the most senior Judge at the time and next in line for the position, to the NJC for recommendation and subsequent appointment, upon the retirement of Hon. Justice Iche Ndu as Chief judge of the state, which was trailed by the controversy of Hon. Justice PNC Agumagu and Hon. Justice Daisy Okocha, leading to the shutting down of the Rivers state judiciary for one whole year.
“And upon his swearing into office at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, you corrected that error by announcing her Lordship, the Hon Justice Iyayi Lamikanra as Chief Judge of Rivers State.
“Today, Gov. Wike and the NJC have overlooked one who is the most senior Judge, Hon. Justice Joy Akpughunum and has decided to appoint her junior Hon. Justice S.C. Amadi.
“From this singular act, the fact speaks for itself that Governor Wike only chooses to uphold the rule of law when he has a vested interest on a particular matter and would arm-twist the law to his advantage when it seems obvious that the odds are against him.
“That we condemn this wicked and political manipulation by Governor Wike and the subsequent nod by the National Judicial Council, and call on the NJC to reverse itself and do the right thing in keeping with the Sanctity of the Bench and the Judiciary.
“That this barefaced wicked act by Governor Wike and the NJC should be outrightly condemned by Rivers people.
“That we state for the records that this position of the NDDGG is without any prejudice to the revered jurist, Hon. Justice Simeon C. Amadi who has a sound history at the Bench.”