THERE is a new twist to the controversies surrounding the appointment of a chief judge for Rivers State as the Port Harcourt branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) said it would challenge the amendment of the state High Court Law 2001 by the state government.
Chairman of the NBA Port Harcourt branch, Dennis Okwakpan, made this known to journalists after an emergency meeting of the association, which lasted till the evening of Friday.
Following the passage of the law by members of the state House of Assembly, Governor Rotimi Amachi, on Wednesday, assented to the amendment, empowering the Chief Registrar of the state high court to assign cases to judges in the absence of a chief judge or an acting chief judge.
The decision of the executive and legislative arms of government to amend the law has been seen as part of the effort to thwart the appointment of an administrative chief judge for the state by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
Okwakpan said the association would challenge the amendment immediately the court resumes.
According to him, if the law was allowed to operate, it would humiliate judges in the state as, he said, they would be taking instructions from their junior and who was not a judicial officer.
He said NBA, Port Harcourt branch, had been interfacing with the NJC and the state government on how to resolve the lingering crisis in the state judiciary.
“We discussed a couple of things and at the end of that meeting, a few decisions were taken. The whole idea is how the state can move further and get out of this logjam in the crisis in the judiciary.
“The most notable decision that we took was basically to get approval from our members at this extra-ordinary general meeting to continue to engage all the authorities, NJC and the Rivers State government, with the view of resolving the issue the question of appointing a substantive chief judge for the state.
“We also reviewed the Rivers State House of Assembly decision to amend the High Court Law to vest power on the Chief Registrar of the High Court to assume or carry out administrative duties and a few other things,” he said.
Source: Tribune


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