Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has sworn in Justice Obisike Orji as the acting Chief Judge of Abia State following the suspension of the substantive Chief Judge of the state, Justice Theresa Uzokwe, by the state house of assembly over allegations of official misconduct leveled against her.
A Civil Society Group, GLOBAL CENTRE FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE had in a Petition to the State House of Assembly via the office of the Speaker accused the now Suspended Abia State Chief Judge of Misconduct,Abuse of Office and High handedness among others.
The Petition was Signed by Dr Acb Agbazuere for and On behalf of the Civil Society Group.
Earlier this morning the High Courts and Magistrate Courts in Umuahia, Abia State were shut down as the long standing tussle between the executive and judiciary over which of the two arms would control Abia courts in the state finally snowballed into fracas.
Trouble started when the Chief Registrar, Benson Anya, recently appointed by the state government stormed the High Court premises and tried to stop the Chief Registrar, Elizabeth Akwiwu-Chukwu, from addressing the staff at the court premises.
The war of words between the two principal officers of the state judiciary who are claiming ownership of the office nearly degenerated to physical combat as the two officers openly accused each other of impersonating the office and therefore not competent to address the judicial staff.
As the war of words was going on, the Chief Judge, Justice Theresa Uzokwe, arrived the premises and subsequently engaged Anya in an open confrontation, telling him that he was not the authentic chief registrar and therefore was not recognised by her, the CJ’s office.
Embarrassed judiciary staff had come from the four judiciary divisions in the state for a meeting summoned by the Chief Judge whom reports said asked them to assemble at the judiciary headquarters in Umuahia. They were there listening to Akwiwu-Chukwu when things went awry following the arrival of Anya with four armed policemen.
Anya was appointed chief registrar by the newly constituted Abia State Judicial Service Commission but his appointment was rejected by the CJ, who has refused to allow him assume duties. Instead the CJ has allowed Elizabeth Akwiwu-Chukwu to remain in office as chief registrar despite her removal by the JSC.
The confrontation between the CJ and the CR was furious with both angrily banding words and trading insults to the bewilderment of the staff and members of the public who had come to the court complex for one reason or the other.
In a statement, Akwiwu-Chukwu accused some government officials of trying to frustrate the separation of power in Abia State, alleging that the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Umeh Kalu (SAN), was the brain behind it as according to her, Kalu wants to pocket the judiciary.