Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu on Monday swore in Justice Onuoha Arisa Kalu Ogwe as the state Acting Chief Judge.
That was after the state governor removed Justice Obisike Oji whom he swore in to lead the state judiciary a couple of days ago on the directive of the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The state house of assembly had asked the governor to suspend the substantive Chief Judge, Justice Theresa Uzokwe to enable the House investigate allegations levelled against her (Uzokwe) and swear in the most senior judge, Justice Oji as acting state chief judge.
As soon as he complied with the resolution of the state house of assembly, the National Judicial Council (NJC) had an emergency meeting during which it invalidated the sack of the substantive chief judge and the swearing in of the most senior judge as the chief judge without the constitutional input of the Council.
NJC had subsequently asked the state governor to sack the acting chief judge and appointed the next most senior judge to take over the running of the state judiciary pending resolution of the crisis in the third arm of government in the state.
While swearing in Justice Ogwe as the new Abia State Acting Chief Judge, Governor Ikpeazu described Justice Ogwe as capable and urged him to quickly stabilise the state justice delivery system to enable the state have a breath of fresh air under his leadership.
Justice Ogwe, in his remark, commended the governor for accepting the NJC directive.
He said: “I am already a judge. My call now is to lead my fellow judges and I will do so and not disappoint the state.”
Also, the state Attorney- General and Justice Commissioner, Chief Umeh Kalu (SAN), who spoke with reporters and read out a three-page statement titled “Impasse in the leadership of the Abia State Judiciary – Abia State Government Position”, said the governor complied with the House resolution to swear in Oji as the acting CJ.
Kalu, who stated that while the NJC might not be a court of law, the Abia State government is not unmindful of the constituents of that revered Assembly of our eminent and most knowledgeable in our laws and its interpretation, said: “We lend our voice to the NJC to consider all the circumstances leading to the swearing-in ceremony and temper justice with mercy.
“Justice Obisike Oji is a victim of circumstance,” he added.