The National Judicial Council (NJC) Thursday suspended the Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Peter Agumagu.
A statement signed by NJC’s acting Director of Information Mr. Soji Oye, said the decision to suspend Agumagu was taken at an emergency meeting held on March 26.
The council cited section 271 (1) of the constitution which gave the it the power to recommend a judge for appointment as the Chief Judge of a state and said at no time did the council recommend Agumagu for appointment as chief judge.
The statement said: The NJC under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloma Mariam Muktar, considered the purported appointment, confirmation and swearing-in of Justice P. N. C. Agumagu as the substantive Chief Judge of the state on the 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 1999 constitution (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 NJC did not at any time make any recommendation to the governor of the state that Hon. Justice P. N. C. Agumagu, President, Customary Court of Appeal be appointed the substantive Chief Judge of the state. Council therefore resolved as follows: that the National Judicial Council does not and will not recognise Justice P.N.C. Agumagu as the Chief Judge of Rivers State.
“That the general public and all concerned in the matter, particularly the Governor of the state, the Rivers State House of Assembly, the Judiciary in Rivers State, be notified and informed that the NJC will not deal with Justice P.N.C. Agumagu as the Chief Judge of Rivers State;
“That a query be issued to Justice P. N. C. Agumagu to explain in writing within four 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 P. N. C. Agumagu from office as a judicial officer with immediate effect.”