Enugu Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, yesterday, swore in Justice Afojulu Ozoemena as acting chief judge of the state.
Ozoemena’s appointment followed the retirement of Justice Ngozi Emehelu as the state chief judge on September 7.
Ugwuanyi while swearing-in Ozoemena explained that the decision was based on the order of seniority of the judges of Enugu High Court as confirmed by the National Judicial Council (NJC) via its letter Ref. No. NJC/S.14/HC.EN/9/1/228 dated September 1, 2021.
The governor said the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, as amended, did not contemplate that vacancy should exist in the office of the chief judge of a state given the sensitivity of the office and its functions.
He said section 271 sub-section 4 of the constitution empowered governors of a state to appoint the most senior judge of the High Court to perform the functions of a chief judge of a state if vacancy occurs in the position until a person has been appointed to assume the functions of that office.
Ugwuanyi congratulated Justice Ozoemena for his well-deserved appointment expressing confidence that he would bring his juristic erudition, diverse experience and gravitas to bear on the administration of the Enugu State judiciary.
“I wish you well and pray for God to grant you the strength and wisdom to discharge this herculean duty.”
Responding, Ozoemena thanked God for making it possible for him to be sworn in as acting Chief Judge of Enugu State and appreciated Governor Ugwuanyi for his elevation.
He paid glowing tributes to the retired chief judge, Emehelu, for the quality leadership she provided in the state judiciary and promised to keep all the worthy legacies she left behind as well as improve on them.
Ozoemena urged judges and other officials of the judiciary to accord him the same maximum support and cooperation they accorded the outgone chief judge “because I have come to serve the state judiciary.”