By Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
Following the suspension of Justice Innocent Umezulike as the Chief Judge of Enugu state by the National Judicial Council and his compulsory retirement by the Enugu state government, a new Acting Chief Judge has been appointed by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
She is Justice Ngozi Emehelu, a former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the state. Until her appointment, she was the most senior judge of the High Court of Enugu State.
Speaking during the swearing in of the new Acting Chief Judge, Ugwuanyi said the action was necessitated by last week’s recommendation for the compulsory retirement of the former Chief Judge by the NJC.
The new acting chief judge, Justice Emehelu, was sworn in after an oath of office administered by the state’s Solicitor-General, Victor Emeribe (Esq).
The governor said Emehelu’s swearing-in is consistent with Section 271 (4) of the 1999 constitution as amended.
“If the office of the chief judge of a state is vacant, or if the person holding the office is for any reason unable to perform the functions of the office… the governor of the state shall appoint the most senior judge of the high court to perform those functions”.
Governor Ugwuanyi further stated that he had received two letters recommending the former chief judge’s suspension and compulsory retirement from office.
“Accordingly, Hon. Justice Ngozi Priscilla Emehelu, the most senior judge of the High Court of Enugu State, has been appointed and sworn-in as the acting chief judge of Enugu State,” Governor Ugwuanyi noted at the event held at the state’s Executive Council Hall.
The acting chief judge in her response attributed her appointment to providence and pledged to carry out the responsibilities of her new office to the best of her abilities and with the fear of God.