‘O.C.J Okocha’s ‘bid to make sister Rivers CJ behind crisis’


A member of the National Judicial Council (NJC), O.C.J Okocha (SAN) has been accused of being behind the leadership crisis in the Rivers State judiciary.

Okocha, a former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, is said to have been plotting relentlessly to ensure that his immediate elder sister, Justice Daisy W. Okocha, emerges as the Chief Judge of the state.

According to sources, Okocha is using his position as a member of NJC to tailor the selection and appointment process to produce his sister.

The Chief Judge, Justice Peter Agumagu, has been suspended by the NJC after his choice by the Governor Rotimi Amaechi.

The popular thinking is that Okocha influenced the NJC to recommend his sister to Amaechi for appointment as the Chief Judge, contrary to the recommendation of Justice Agumagu by the Rivers State Judicial Service Commission to the NJC.

But Okocha told our correspondent on Sunday night that he lacked the power to make his sister the Chief Judge, adding that he was not even at the meeting where NJC recommended her to Governor Amaechi for appointment after the government sent her name to the council.

A source however said last night that “The State Judicial Service Commission clearly recommended Justice Agumagu to the NJC as its first and most qualified choice to be appointed as the Chief Judge of Rivers State.”

The criterion that only the most senior judge must be the Chief Judge, and that a President of the Customary Court of Appeal cannot be a Chief Judge, are creations of the NJC, said the source who pleaded not to be named because he is not permitted to talk to the press.

According to the source, the Constitution prescribes only 10 years’ post-call to the bar as qualification to the office of the Chief Judge.

“Okocha’s partisan and parochial schemes to install his sister as the Chief Judge of Rivers State led him to write a ‘Confidential’ letter to the President-General of Ogbakor Ikwerre Convention (the umbrella body of the Ikwerre ethnic group), Prof. Augustine Onyozu. Governor Amaechi and the two Okochas are from the Ikwerre ethnic group.

“In the letter dated February 3rd, Okocha clearly called for the intervention of the President-General to advise Governor Amaechi to make his sister the Chief Judge of Rivers, principally because she is from the Ikwerre ethnic stock like the governor.”

But Okocha said his sister was being denied her entitlement. His words: “That is a matter that has been dealt with by the National Judicial Council. A recommendation was made to the governor since the 17th of July 2013 and the governor and his advisers with other intentions do not want to make an appointment that has been legitimately recommended to them.

“If they don’t want to make the appointment, as they say, we watch and see the persons and the institutions suffering as a result of their breach of the Constitution. If they think they’re causing any detriment to me, they’re mistaken and misguided.

“What power do I have to make my sister Chief Judge? They forget that they recommended my sister’s name to the NJC. I didn’t send my sister’s name there. My sister is the most senior judge in the High Court of Rivers State, and she has been duly recommended for appointment, and those who don’t want to appoint her should please themselves.

“Those who deny other people what is their legitimate right and entitlement will also be denied their own legitimate right and entitlement at the appropriate time. There is the law of karma. There is retributive justice.

“I’m just a member of the NJC, which has 22 members. At the time when the recommendation was made I was not even in the meeting, because I have honour; I have integrity. I excused myself from the meeting and stepped out, and within 10 minutes they had concluded with the matter.”

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