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C’River Rejects Justice Ikpeme As Chief Judge, Swears In Eneji

...NBA Takes A Swipe At Ayade, Calls On NJC To Sanction Eneji


The Cross River State House of Assembly has rejected the nomination of Akon Ikpeme as substantive Chief Judge of the state over her ancestry.


The House in a voice vote declined her confirmation after rejecting two parallel reports presented by a divided Committee on Judiciary which was set up to screen Ikpeme.


In one of the reports, Effa Esua, Chairman of the Committee, accepted her nomination as substantive Chief Judge and recommended that the House give the go ahead.


However in a parallel report, Godwin Akwaji representing Obudu State Constituency, alongside five others, recommended that Akon be rejected because she is not from Cross River.
As a result of this impasse, the House after extensive deliberations, rejected both reports and a committee of the whole House ultimately rejected her confirmation through a voice vote.
During plenary, some members condemned the presentation of the two reports and their adoption by the House, saying it’s unprecedented in the history of the legislature.


RELATED: Ayade Promises To Make Cross River A Window To Africa


Ekpo Ekpo Bassey, member representing Bakassi in the House, cautioned the House against setting a bad precedence.
“This is my fifth year in the house and I have never seen two reports by a committee being presented to the house.
“The House has to be on the side of Justice at all times and avoid setting a bad precedence.


Justice Ikpeme

“We need to strengthen institutions and avoid sowing seeds of ethnicity and disunity in the house”, he said.
Also speaking, Itam Abang from Boki State Constituency said never in the history of the house has two reports been presented.


“Never in the history of the House have we had two reports. It’s very sad that in the 21st century we are whipping up ethnic sentiments.


“It’s wrong to whip up ethnic sentiments, because we have children and don’t know where they will be married in to.


“She gave the state her productive years; and rejecting her on account of her origin is injustice of the highest order”, she said.
Also speaking, Francis Bassey Asuquo representing Odukpani State Constituency, said Akon is from his constituency Odukpani and his people are proud of her.


He added that states were created for administrative convenience and Akon’s record of service is impeccable.


However, Chris Ogar from Etung State Constituency who read the parallel report said her confirmation will constitute a conflict of interest because she is from Akwa Ibom.


He said the House should withhold her confirmation because it will not be on the best interest of Cross River State if she is confirmed.


His committee also recommended that the next most senior judge be confirmed. And in line with Assembly recommendation, Governor Ben Ayade has sworn in Justice Maurice Eneji as the Acting Chief Judge of the State.
He was sworn in on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 at Executive Chambers of Governor’s Office after being cleared by the House of Assembly.


Justice Eneji

He is from Bekwarra Local Government Area of the state.


Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar Association has condemned in strong terms, the appointment of Justice Maurice Eneji as the Acting Chief Judge of Cross River State in place of Justice Ikpeme who is the most senior Judge in the state.
In a statement issued by the President of NBA, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN, the NBA calls the appointment an absurdity, naked injustice and prejudice which must not be allowed to stand.

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