Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has described his swearing-in of the substantive Chief Judge of the state, Justice Daisy Wotube Okocha, as a victory for the rule of law and a respect for the rules of succession as outlined by the National Judicial Council, NJC.
Justice Okocha is the First Female Chief Judge of Rivers State. She has been acting as the state’s Chief Judge since June 1, 2015.
Wike, while performing the swearing-in of Justice Okocha as the Chief Judge of Rivers State on Monday at the Government House, Port Harcourt, said that the state government acted in line with the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, NJC, which was confirmed by the Court of Appeal on December 23, 2015.
A statement issued by the Special Assistant to the Governor on Electronic Media, Simeon Nwakaudu, quotes him as saying that with the recent development, it is clear that governors cannot wilfully disrespect the recommendation of the NJC as was the case with the Amaechi administration in the state.
Wike noted that allowing the judiciary to be subjected to the discretion of sitting governors would desecrate the independence of the Judiciary and lead to abuses that would negatively affect the dispensation of justice.
According to him, “The system will collapse if we refuse to respect the judicial system of succession as laid out. My administration will never do anything that will threaten the rule of law. We will always upholds the customs and traditions of the Judiciary. We never break down the laid down procedure.
“We will never run contrary to our avowed commitment to respect the independence of the Judiciary at all times”.
The Governor charged the new Chief Judge of Rivers State to always uphold the constitution and carry other members of the bench along in the decision making process.
The NJC recommended the appointment of Justice Daisy Wotube Okocha as Chief Judge of Rivers State on 22nd July, 2013, while the Court of Appeal on December 23, 2015 set aside a Federal High Court judgment which had initially ruled that the state governor is not bound to comply with the recommendation of the NJC.
In her remarks after being sworn in, the new Rivers State Chief Judge, Justice Okocha thanked God for making her elevation possible after two years of uncertainty.
She said: “This is a solemn moment for me. The NJC recommendation of 22nd July, 2013 came to manifestation on Monday, 4th January, 2016. God has glorified himself in my elevation as Chief Judge.
“Man can try, but only God’s counsel will prevail.”
Justice Okocha commended Governor Wike for giving the Judiciary the required independence to carry out its constitutional responsibilities.