The jury is out over the decision of the Justice Minister and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, that the Chief Judge of Bayelsa State, Justice Kate Abiri, should swear in Rivers State Governor-elect, Nyesom Wike, in the absence of a Chief Judge in the state.
The decision has sparked a controversy among lawyers with some backing the directive and others pooh-poohing it.
Prominent constitutional lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, said the decision was abnormal, arguing that the jurisdiction of Bayelsa State Chief Judge does not extend to Rivers State.
He said under the constitution, the state CJ and Judge the state High Court do not have territorial powers beyond their states.
Adegboruwa said it would be wrong for the Bayelsa CJ to move over to Rivers to inaugurate Wike.
But another lawyer, Festuc Keyamo, disagreed, arguing that the fact that there is no CJ in Rivers was not Wike’s fault and he should not be made to suffer for it.
He said it would be wrong not to inaugurate Wike simply because the Chief Judge of Rivers is not in place.
Keyamo argued that the country would be setting a dangerous precedent in that some opponents can abduct a state CJ in order to scuttle the inauguration of a governor.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Adoke, had in a statement directed the Bayelsa CJ to swear in Wike on May 29.
Adoke explained that the decision was taken due to the existing vacuum in the Office of the Chief Judge of Rivers State and the Office of the President of the Customary Court of Appeal of the state.
Rivers does not have a CJ in place as a result of the raging battle between outgoing Governor Rotimi Amaechi and the National Judicial Council over who to appoint to fill the vacuum.
But has Adoke acted rightly in your own view?