Rivers State Governor, Nyesome Wike, has defended his visit to the office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, saying it is unconnected to the ongoing tribunal cases challenging his election as governor as reported by the Punch Newspaper.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Simeon Nwakaudu, the governor admitted that he visited the office of the CJN twice on July 7 and 9, 2015, but maintained that his visit was to brief the CJN in his capacity as the chairman of the NJC on the need to renew the appointment of the acting Chief Judge of the state and also the acting president of the Customary Court of Appeal.
Wike noted that the tenure of these Judicial officers would expire by the end of August 2015, by which time the courts will be on vacation.
According to the statement, “My attention has been drawn to the sinister interpretation given to the visit of the governor to the office of the CJN as reported on page 2 of the Punch Newspaper of Monday, July 20, 2015.
“While it is true that the governor went to see the CJN on July 7 and 9, 2015, his mission was to brief the CJN in his capacity as the chairman of the NJC on the need to renew the appointment of the acting Chief Judge of the state and also the acting president of the Customary Court of Appeal.
“It should be noted that the current tenure of the incumbents will expire by the end of August 2015, by which time, the courts will be on vacation and the NJC may not be in a position to consider any request for the renewal of their re-appointments. There is therefore an urgent need to expeditiously secure the renewal of the appointments of acting Chief Judge of the state and her counterpart in the Customary Court of Appeal before the vacation begins.
“Although the governor went to the CJN’s office on the said dates but never met him because he was not around. However, considering the urgency and importance of his mission, the governor wrote to the CJN the next day which was July 10, 2015, requesting the approval of the NJC for him to renew the appointments of Justice Okocha and Justice Nwankwo as acting Chief Judge of the state, and the acting President of the state Customary Court of Appeal respectively.
“The requests were premised on the need to avoid a sudden vacuum and ensure continuity in the administration of the state’s judiciary pending the appointment of substantive occupants into these offices.”
The statement further noted that: “There is nothing wrong in the governor, who is also a member of the Body of Benchers, going to see the CJN during official working hours on issues pertaining to the effective administration of justice in his state.
“Therefore, linking the governor’s visit to the CJN with the ongoing election petition is to say the least, malicious, tendentious and a wicked attempt to drag the name of our most revered CJN and indeed the apex court into the murky waters of politics.
“It is unfortunate that the management of The Punch Newspapers will allow itself to be used by politicians to denigrate and impugn the integrity of judiciary at the federal level with fabrications and outright falsehood laced with insinuations and innuendos.
“The governor therefore advises the management of The Punch Newspapers to caution their journalists to always base their reportage on facts and avoid actions that could trigger a crisis of confidence in the judiciary just to satisfy some narrow political interests.”