The National Judicial Council (NJC) on Thursday suspended the Chief Judge of Rivers, Justice P.N.C. Agumagu.
A statement issued by the office of the Acting Director of Information, NJC, Mr Soji Oye, said the Council took the decision at its emergency meeting on Wednesday.
The statement said Agumagu’s appointment did not comply with the provisions of Section 271 of the 1999 Constitution, which stipulates that a state governor must appoint a Chief Judge “on the recommendations of the NJC”.
The NJC has also directed that a query be issued to Agumagu to explain in writing within four days “why he should not be removed from office as a judicial officer”.
This, according to the statement, “is due to his failure to abide by his oath of office to uphold the Constitution and Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
Agumagu, a former president, Rivers Customary Court of Appeal, was sworn-in as substantive Chief Judge of the state on March 18 by Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State.
The NJC did not recommend Justice Agumagu to the governor of Rivers for appointment as the state Chief Judge.
Thursday’s statement read in part: “The National Judicial Council did not at any time make any recommendation to the Governor of Rivers State that Justice P. N. C. Agumagu, President, Customary Court of Appeal, be appointed the substantive Chief Judge of Rivers State.
“That the National Judicial Council does not and will not recognise Justice P.N.C. Agumagu as the Chief Judge of Rivers State.
“The general public and all concerned in the matter, particularly the governor of Rivers, the state assembly and the judiciary, be notified and informed that the NJC will not deal with Agumagu as the Chief Judge of Rivers.
“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 P. N. C. Agumagu from office as a judicial officer with immediate effect,” it added.