Cross River House of Assembly again rejects request to confirm Justice Ikpeme as substantive Chief Judge

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The Cross River State House of Assembly has again rejected the letter from National Judicial Council, NJC, requesting the confirmation of Justice Akon Ikpeme as the substantive Chief Judge. The House in a voice vote on Tuesday said it cannot reverse itself on the matter of who becomes the chief Judge of the state having extensively deliberated on the issue three months ago and finally settled for Justice Maurice Eneji. The rejection follows the second NJC’s letter transmitted to the House by Governor Ben Ayade asking for second confirmation of Justice Akon Ikpeme as the Chief Judge. Cross River Governor, Prof Ben Ayade had in a letter dated May 29, 2020, and signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Hon Tina Agbor, Esq, urged the House to treat the attached letter from NJC with “urgency and ensure that there is no vacuum created in the judiciary.” Shortly after the Clerk had read the correspondence from the Governor, the Leader, Hon Peter Odey, representing Ogoja state constituency, moved a motion saying “having read the letter from the NJC via the Governor, I move that we accept it as s working document of the House but maintains that we cannot reverse ourselves in this matter. ” The House without any further debate and through a voice vote rejected NJC request again, thereby insisting on Justice Maurice Eneji even as his tenure as Acting Chief Judge expires today, June 2, 2020. He was appointed Acting Chief Judge on March 2, 2020 Recall that the House in a resolution number 45 sent to the government of Cross River state and signed by the Clerk of the house, Elder Bassey Ekpeyong had rejected her Lordship, Justice Akon Ikpeme, as substantive Chief Judge after acting for three months. The House said:” Throughout the period of her acting appointment, she was more concerned about the politics surrounding her confirmation and other irrelevant issues at the detriment of other official matters The resolution with Ref number:HA/ CRS / S/60/VOL .X/ 347 dated March 2, 2020, and made available to the press, stated that after the deliberations on the grievous allegations, the House “agreed that any appointment to the office of the Chief Judge of the state should be confirmed for persons of unquestionable character and in overall interest of peace and security of the state.” On his part, Hon Efa Esua, Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Public Petition, Public Service Matters and Conflict Resolution, representing Calabar Municipality, said: “The letter from the Governor was not referred to my committee. So my position and a few others remain that Ikpeme be sworn-in and I have not changed. “I had expected my colleagues to be on the side of the law. But you saw what happened. So let us see how it plays out because Justice Maurice Eneji tenure as Acting Chief Judge ends today.”

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