In an exclusive telephone chat with the Nigerian Tribune on Wednesday evening, she disclosed that it was the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, that directed her to conduct the constitutional exercise and not the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke.
Adoke had personally issued a statement on Tuesday, disclosing that the Federal Government had directed her to conduct the swearing-in, to forestall imminent constitutional crisis in Rivers State on May 29, when the tenure of incumbent Governor Rotimi Amaechi would lapse.
Rivers State judiciary has been in crisis over the choice of CJ, with the state president of the Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Peter Agumagu, also suspended by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The involvement of Adoke as the directing authority had been generating controversy, though it was generally agreed that the directive was constitutional.
Apparently not comfortable with the media reports that she was directed by Adoke, she explained that it was the CJN that wrote to her to carry out the constitutional duty, while the only involvement of Adoke was writing to the CJN to point out the imminent constitutional crisis and the position of the law on the political situation in Rivers State.
When asked if she received two separate directives from both the CJN and Adoke, she said “what do you mean by two directives? Don’t you know what the constitution says about it? Do you know the constitutional provision on this matter? So, is it for the AGF to direct me? Maybe you media people didn’t get him correctly.”
When the Nigerian Tribune insisted that Adoke was not quoted out of context, she said “what I am saying to you is that I didn’t get any directive from the AGF. It was the CJN that wrote to me. The only involvement of the AGF was his letter to the CJN, pointing out the constitutional provision on the issue.
“Even the CJN attached his letter to his own letter to me. So when did that become directing or ordering me as reported in the media. It is you media people that were saying what didn’t happen. You were asking me which of the directives I would obey. There was just a directive and it came from the proper and constitutional authority and that is the directive I am obeying.”
She did not take kindly to inquiry from the Nigerian Tribune on how the mantle fell on her for the exercise, as she asked rhetorically: “What do you mean by saying why Bayelsa CJ.”
When the Nigerian Tribune responded that because the matter was political and she is from the home-state of the outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan, she blamed the media for always conjuring things up, instead of engaging developmental journalism.
According to her, “it is you people that are always coming up with such insinuations. You said because the issue is political. What is political in a pure constitutional issue? Why must every issue become political? Why must we bring politics into everything we do in this country? Instead of talking about how to improve our infrastructure, build our roads and make life better for everyone, we are always bringing problem where there is none.
“Other Chief Judges are doing inauguration on that day, but there won’t be inauguration in Bayelsa State and Bayelsa is a neighbouring state to Rivers.”
When asked if she would speak on the controversy in her speech on the occasion, to set records straight, she said there was nothing to set straight, as there was just a directive from the appropriate authority.