The crisis between the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, and the National Judicial Council (NJC) deteriorated yesterday as the governor made good his threat to deal with any staff of the state judiciary who obeyed the directive of the NJC that Justice Daisy Okocha act as the Administrative Judge of the state pending the appointment of a chief judge.
In a letter dated June 5 and jointly signed by the Accountant General of the state, Ngozi Y. Abu, and the Director, Treasury, Office of the Accountant General, Dagogo R. Abere, the state government ordered the General Manager, Zenith Bank Plc, at Plot 1/2, Presidential Estate, Aba Road Port Harcourt to stop the payment of salaries of judiciary workers until further notice.
The letter obtained by THISDAY, read: "Sequel to the directive of His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Rivers State, we write to request your bank to stop the May 2014 salaries of all staff of the state judiciary till further notice.
The letter further warned that "strict compliance in this respect is solicited … "
By this development, all the judiciary workers who had vowed to comply with the directive of the NJC would remain without their salaries and allowances until Amaechi decides otherwise.
In giving the directive after a meeting of May 27, the NJC's Director of Information Mr. Soji Oye, said the council considered the pains and frustrations which the state judiciary and litigants in the state are facing following the vacuum created by the absence of a substantive or acting chief judge in the state.
In response to the NJC's directive, the state government through the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Worgu Boms, and the Commissioner for Information, Mrs. Ibim Seminatari, had lampooned the council and threatened to deal with any judiciary worker who complied with the directive.
By this development, the state judiciary has also suffered a major blow in the hands of the executive arm of government in the state. The state House of Assembly is under lock and Amaechi's loyalists in the House of Assembly now sit in the Government House, Port Harcourt to approve monetary requests by the governor.