By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye
Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State on Friday in Enugu sworn-in Justice Ngozi Emehelu as the acting Chief Judge.
Ugwuanyi who spoke said the swearing in was as a result of the compulsory retirement of the immediate past Chief Judge, Justice Innocent Umuzulike by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The governor said the event was also in compliance with the Constitution, which empowers a governor to appoint the most senior judge whenever the office of the chief judge is vacant.
“I am in receipt of letters dated Sept. 30 on the suspension from office and recommendation for compulsory retirement from office of the former Chief Judge, Justice Innocent Umezulike from the NJC.
“Section 217 (4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended empowers the state governor to appoint the most senior judge to function in the office if the office of the chief judge of the state is vacant.
“Justice Emehelu, being the most senior judge in the state judiciary is, therefore, appointed into this office in acting capacity,” Ugwuanyi said.
Responding, Emehelu said she was humbled by the appointment and not oblivious of the enormity of the work and duties of an acting chief judge.
She said that with the cooperation of her brother justices and the entire bench “we shall build on the achievements of the past chief judge.
“I am a child of circumstance and shall discharge my duties creditably.
“I am happy that there was no wrangling and pull her down in this process,” she said.
Emehelu thanked the governor for finding her worthy to serve the state in that capacity.
Emehelu was called to the bar in 1981 after her law programme and went ahead to be appointed as attorney general and commissioner for justice of the state in 1997.
In 1998, Emehelu, the first female to have held this position, was appointed a high court judge in the state judiciary and had served in election petitions tribunals.
Blackface News recalls that the NJC, had on Sept. 30, sacked the immediate past chief judge from office on account of corruption.