Abia judicial service commission break into two factions
Members of the Abia State Judicial Service Commission (SJSC) have split into two factions, which are now threatening judicial operations in the state.
While a faction is loyal to the State Chief Judge, Justice Theresa Uzokwe, the other pitched tent with the State Attorney General, Chief Umeh Kalu (SAN).
The scenario followed the dissolution of the SJSC by the state governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu in compliance with the resolution passed by the state house of assembly.
The assembly had found the dissolved SJSC members as incompetent following the report of the investigative panel it constituted to look into the SJSC activities.
Members of the dissolved SJSC rejected their dissolution arguing that the state governor lacked the legal power to do so. They consequently stood their ground as members of the SJSC.
The spokesman of the dissolved SJSC, Kalu Agbayi told journalists that there is an attempt to emasculate the judiciary by the executive through the ministry of justice.He said: “What we are witnessing today is interference and blatant encroachment on the judiciary, the level of antagonism is so high that we are denied our allowances.
“The SJSC reconstituted by the governor was illegal because if the state Chief Judge is not part of the SJSC, that body is unknown to the law”. He queried why the court order restraining the Governor Ikpeazu from reconstituting the SJSC was ignored and government went ahead and appointed and inaugurated new members of SJSC with the Attorney General as its Chairman.
Speaking on the matter, Kalu, the state Attorney General/Justice Commissioner faulted the stance of the Agbayi SJSC, asserting that the dissolution and reconstitution were done in line with the constitutional provision.
He said: “The governor was within the ambit of the law and has the constitutional power to dissolve the SJSC in line with Section 201 of the 1999 Constitution.”
The worried AG said the crisis has affected the promotion and transfer of magistrates and rendered the customary Court of Appeal moribund and accused the state chief judge of creating the crisis.
He also faulted the dissolved SJSC position that a court order was ignored, describing the said court order as worthless on the basis that it was an ex parte order that expired after 14 days. According to him, it was issued and was not renewed by the judge that issued it.
He noted that although members of the SJSC were appointed by the governor, the commission is constitutionally required to be independent hence the CJ has no right to appropriate the commission.
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