By Chidi Nkwopara
OWERRI— The National Industrial Court, Owerri, presided over by Justice O. Y. Anuwe, has nullified the recent dissolution of the Imo State Judicial Service Commission, JSC, by Governor Rochas Okorocha.
Delivering judgment in the suit, NICN/OW/76/2016, instituted by Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, Jude T. U. Nnodum, SAN, Sebastian Ibezim and Jude Agbugba, the judge wondered why the governor was adequately tutored on the unconstitutionality of sacking the JSC in a previous judgment.
Justice Anuwe said: “In the previous judgment delivered by Hon. Justice Nonye Okoronkwo on June 27, 2012, the first defendant (governor) was adequately tutored on the unconstitutionality of removing members of Imo State Judicial Service Commission without complying with procedures stipulated in the Constitution.
“I do not expect that after such an incisive and educative judgment, the governor should still be found committing the same unconstitutional and unlawful interception.”
He declared that the dissolution of the state JSC and the removal of the claimants as members of the commission by the governor through a letter, SGI/S.209/S.1/X, dated October 31, 2016, “is unconstitutional, null and void.”
Justice Anuwe not only nullified and set aside the letter, but also declared that the claimants were still and remained members of the state JSC.
The court ordered the governor, the state Attorney-General and the JSC to “pay the claimants all arrears of their salaries, allowances, emoluments or entitlements from the time of their unlawful removal from office and to continue to pay same to the claimants until the expiration of their tenure or until otherwise constitutionally removed from office.”
Justice Anuwe ordered those appointed by the governor to replace the aggrieved persons to vacate their offices as members of the JSC, even as the court also restrained them from acting, performing or holding themselves out in any other manner, as members of the state JSC.
“Cost of N500,000 is awarded in favour of each of the claimants, to be paid by the first defendant (governor). Judgment is entered accordingly,” Justice Anuwe said.