Rivers acting top judge holds court with armed guards

Rivers acting top judge holds court with armed guards

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 10:57 pm

Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt

There was confusion at the Rivers state High Court Complex Port Harcourt, today, as a team of about 40 armed Policemen drawn from the Rivers State Police command teargassed people, including Journalists, as they escorted Justice Daisy Wotube Okocha into the complex that has been under lock due to Judiciary workers strike since June 12,this year.

Journalists and curious people who noticed the heavy presence of armed Policemen,patrol vans and anti-bomb vehicles mounted at the entrance and exit gates tried to gain entry and find what amiss. But they were rebuffed.

The firing of teargas cannisters by Policemen started after the Commissioner of Police,Dan Bature, arrived and frowned at the presence of people milling outside the gates of High Court complex.

It was later learnt that Justice Okacha had written to all to all High Court Judges inviting them to a meeting in High Court One inside the State High Court Complex and also wrote to the State Police Commissioner for beefed up security on her person,residence and High Court complex to avert any breach of the peace in the Judiciary.

On getting wind of the scheduled meeting at the Complex,the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Worgu Boms,wrote to the CP intimating him of the implication of allowing Police to provide cover for anyone to break into the High Court complex.

Boms informed the CP Bature,who is barely three weeks old in the state,through a memo dated September 22,2014,also made available to Journalists about the crisis rocking the judiciary preceding his assumption of office in the state.

He posited that the”Hon. Justice D.W.Okocha was not recommended by the state Judiciary Service Commission, JSC for appointment as Chief Judge;the recommendation of her by National Judicial Council, NJC,to Governor for appointment, was voided by the Federal High Court in a case between the Governor and two others versus National judicial council and she is neither the state Chief Judge nor its Acting Chief Judge”.

Based on the aforementioned, and others Boms dismissed her letter to the CP wherein she said that she had been directed by the NJC to assign cases and assume related administrative duties because by an amendment of the Rivers State High Court Law,only the Chief Registrar can assign cases.And allowing her forcefully to head the state judiciary with the aid of Policemen would likely cause a breach of the peace in the state.

In her own reaction on the incident on behalf of the State Government, Mrs Ibim Semenitari, Commissioner for Information and Communications raised alarm that the state Police Command under Bature could allow itself to be led by the nose and commit unlawful act of breaking and entry into a complex secured locked because of judiciary workers’ strike.

She said the Rivers Government is calling on the Acting Inspector General of Police to call CP Bature to order to remain “apolitical,nonpartisan and do the job of securing lives and properties, which is their constitutional responsibility of the Police before the state is plunged into another round of crisis”.

She cautioned that the state government is aware that some CPs posted to the state erroneously belief that the easiest way to getting promotion to the Assistant Inspector General AIG,is to antagonize Governor Chibuike Amaechi, bully Rivers people to satisfy federal might unlawfully.

She said that the action of today was to ignite crisis in the state by those who are desperate for power ahead of 2015 without allowing Rivers people exercise their rights.

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