Vanguard for the Independence of the Judiciary Condemns the Rivers and Gombe State Governments Departure from the Precedence of Appointment of Chief Judge

Calls for the Amendment of the 1999 Constitution to remove the appointment of judges from the purview of politicians as they are abusing same.

The Vanguard for the Independence of the Judiciary (V4IJ) ,a vintage policy think tank that strives to serve as a watch dog for the independence of the judiciary in Nigeria and the activities of the judiciary has condemned the recent recommendetion and confirmation of the Chief Judge Designate of Rivers State and same scenario in Gombe State, which has both been hijacked by political actors in the two States.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday the 31st of March, 2021, by the President of the Vanguard for the Independence of the Judiciary (V4IJ), Douglas Ogbankwa Esq.,the Group states that:

“It is ironic that the same issue that led to the closure of the Courts in Rivers State ,during the Rotimi Amechi Government which Governor Nyesom Wikethen as candidate of his Party condemned and fought against, to wit: Appointing a Chief Judge of Rivers that is not in the Order of Secession and Precedence ,which is the established tradition of the Bar and Bench in Nigeria as orovided for by the Guidelines for Appointment of Judicial Officers in Nigeria (As Amended) issued under the hand seal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria has now been replicated by the same Nyesom Wikewho opposed the same action he is currently taking in the appointment of the Chief Judge of Rivers State.

We call on the National Assembly as a matter of national emergency, to provide a legal frame work to take away the selection and and appointment of judicial officers from the purview of politicians ,as such leaves the Judiciary impotent and makes it open to the manipulation of the judiciary by the political class.

The Vanguard of the Independence of the Judiciary (V4IJ) also condemns a similar scenario in Gombe State which is contingent on banal issues like gender and religion in this 21st Society where the world is a global village. We need to State the Chief Judge of a State by the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution is not a subordinate of the State Governor but a Co-Head of an organ of government like the Governor.

In fact the Governor should be scared of the Chief Judge if Nigerian Judges use the enormous powers at their disposal for self assertion and territorial protection, maintain their Independence as provided for by law and apply the law with out fear and favour /affection and ill will.

We also call for the full Implementation of financial autonomy for the Judiciary as provided for by Section 121 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,1999 (As Amended).We do not know any of the two separate contenders for the position of the Chief Judges of Rivers and Gombe States, but we know that the law and practice is on the side of the most Senior Judges in Rivers and Gombe States, concerning the exercises.

The NBA Branches in Rivers and Gombe States should not allow this to slide, else they will be viewed as cowards or accomplices.

The Judiciary is the only weapon to fight oppression and if we allowed it to be manipulated by politicians ,we would eventually be victims of an authoritarian society,that the political actors are trying to foist in our nascent democracy. We must continue to fight for the independence of the judiciary, until we achieve same.

“It is not possible, until it is done “.

-Nelson Mandela.”

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