The Abia state judicial service commission (JSC) has split into two, with one faction loyal to Theresa Uzokwe, chief judge of the state, and the other, Umeh Kalu, attorney-general and commissioner for justice.
Last year, Okezie Ikpeazu, governor of the state, dissolved the commission after members of the state house of assembly accused JSC members of “incompetence”.
Ikpeazu subsequently constituted a new commission — chaired by Kalu — though the old members resisted the dissolution.
They said the governor lacked the power to dissolve the body.
The members accused the state executive of trying to “emasculate the judiciary” through the ministry of justice.
Speaking with journalists in Umuahia, the state capital, Kalu Agbayi, spokesman of the dissolved SJC, said: “What we are witnessing today is interference and blatant encroachment on the judiciary. The level antagonism is so high that we’re denied our allowances”.
He accused Ikpeazu of flaunting court order which he said restrained him (the governor) from reconstituting the commission.
He insisted that the newly constituted SJC is illegal.
But in reaction, the attorney-general said the government’s move to dissolve and reconstitute the SJC was done in line with constitutional provisions.
“The governor has the constitutional power to dissolve the SJC in line with section 201 of the 1999 constitution,” he told journalists.
But Kalu blamed the state chief judge for the crisis.
Responding to claims that the dissolution was contrary to the court order, he said: “The court order is worthless because it was an ex parte order which had expired within 14 days and was not renewed by the judge that issued the order.”
Source: The Cable
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