Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, on Wednesday, swore in Hon. Justice Afojulu Raymond Ozoemena as the state’s acting Chief Judge, following the retirement of Hon. Justice Ngozi Priscilla Emehelu, the immediate past Chief Judge from the service of the State Judiciary on September 7, 2021.
Ugwuanyi, at the swearing in ceremony, 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.
He stated that 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.
Governor Ugwuanyi added that section 271 sub-section 4 of the Constitution empowers the Governor 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 and has assumed the functions of that office.
He, therefore, felicitate the acting Chief Judge for his well-deserved appointment, expressing confidence that he will 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,” he prayed.
Hon. Justice Ozoemena, in his response, thanked God for the opportunity to be sworn in as acting Chief Judge of Enugu State and appreciated the Governor for the new appointment.
Ozoemena also lauded his predecessor for the quality leadership she provided in the State Judiciary and promised to better the legacy she left behind.
“I am personally influenced by what Hon. Justice Emehelu did; the way she was mothering all of us; we regarded her as a Mummy in the State Judiciary”, he said.
The new acting Chief Judge also urged the Judges and other officials of the Judiciary to support him the way they supported the outgone Chief Judge “because I have come to serve the State Judiciary.”
The Deputy Governor of the State, Hon. Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo, the President, State Customary Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice George Nnamani, the Chief Judge emeritus, Hon. Justice Emehelu, the State Attorney-General, Chief Miletus Eze, Judges, members of the State Judicial Service Commission, the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor, Prof. Malachy Okwueze, the Commissioner for Special Duties, Hon. Mrs. Mabel Agbo and other dignitaries were all in attendance at the ceremony.