Rivers government says controversy on appointment of chief judge needless.
The bombing of a High Court in Rivers state on Monday may not be unconnected with the trial of a state lawmaker, Evans Bipi, the Rivers State commissioner for information, Ibim Semenitari, has said.
Ms. Semenitari told PREMIUM TIMES the explosion at a court in Ahoada East Local Government Area, the second time in six months, may be an attempt to frustrate the trial of the controversial lawmaker.
“Well it is indeed tempting to suggest that it may not be unconnected with the fact that the case involving Mr. Evans Bipi the purported speaker of the group of 6 in the Rivers State House of Assembly was to be determined in the morning and in the night the Court premises was bombed,” Ms. Semenitari said.
“This is the second time that court is being bombed the night before a case involving Mr. Bipi is to be heard.”
The first attack occurred January 9, while the second came Monday, June 9.
Rivers State has faced political unrest for months, amid a row between the governor, Chibuike Amaechi- supported by a faction of lawmakers, and the Bipi-led group, which backs President Goodluck Jonathan.
Mr. Bipi leads a group of six members of the Rivers State House of Assembly opposed to Mr. Amaechi.
He declared himself speaker of the 32-member assembly at the peak of political unrest in the state in 2013.
Ms. Semenitari also said that the controversy over the appointment of the state chief judge did not arise as it is the responsibility of the governor to appoint one.
Mr. Amaechi appointed Peter Agumagu as the chief judge while the National Judicial Council recommended Daisy Okocha, the most senior High Court judge in Rivers State.
Mr. Agumagu was suspended March 27, a decision that threw the state judiciary into chaos.
Ms. Semenitari said “Rivers State cannot be subjugated to the whims and caprices of tyrannical federal actors” and urged that the matter should not be politicized.
“The constitution is very clear on who appoints a chief Judge”. These matters are indeed very clear and should not be politicized”.
Ms. Semenitari also said the state government followed section 271(1) of the Constitution which states that “The appointment of a person to the office of Chief Judge of a State shall be made by the Governor of the State on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council subject to confirmation of the appointment by the House of Assembly of the State”.
“Yes it did. First the state judicial committee submits its recommendation to the National Judicial Council who then reviews this and makes a recommendation to the governor. The governor is at liberty to then accept or reject that recommendation and forward to the assembly before appointment. All steps were duly followed”.