Cross River Assembly confirms Justice Ikpeme as substantive CJ

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Cross River House of Assembly has finally confirmed Justice Akon Ikpeme the substantive Chief Judge after rejecting her twice.

The confirmation of Justice Ikpeme followed a letter written by the Secretary to the State Government, Tina Banku Agbor, upon the directive of Governor Ben Ayade to the Assembly.

The letter read in parts: “I am directed to forward the name of Hon. Justice Akon Bassey Ikpeme for confirmation by the Honourable House as Chief Judge of Cross River State in the State Public Service.

“The purpose of this letter therefore is to request Mr. Speaker and Honorable Members to please grant the consequential confirmation of the nominee for formal appointment as Chief Judge of Cross River State in the State Public Service.”

Speaker Eteng Jonah Williams, who presided over the confirmation session, told journalists that the House got additional information which has caused the Assembly to change its mind and give the nod.

Eteng denied several reports the Assembly had regarded Justice Ikpeme as a security risk to the state at the time the first rejected her nomination in November 2019.

According to him: “At no time did we grant any interview as a legislature to say that she was a security risk to the state. We have additional information that has led to this confirmation today.

“She is duly qualified and we trust that she will dispense justice without fear or favour. She should be fair in the discharge of her duty.”

The Speaker added he believes the confirmation of Justice Ikpeme will bring peace to the judiciary in the state.

Cross River has been without a substantive Chief Judge since November 28th 2019 when the last substantive Chief Judge, Justice Micheal Edem retired.

Justice Ikpeme as the next in rank of seniority was sworn-in, in acting capacity of a-three-month duration pending her confirmation by the National Judicial Council and the further recommendation of the state Governor to the State Assembly for the final constitutional confirmation.

The Governor recommended her to the Assembly on the last day of her three- month in acting capacity but in what many believed was rather a political intrigue, the Assembly refused to confirm Justice Ikpeme.

The Governor, in a swift reaction sworn-in the second in rank of seniority Justice Maurice Eneji, who acted for the first thre months and got a second three month after the Assembly rejected the second recommendation for Justice Ikpeme to be confirmed.

Justice Eneji’s second and non-renewable tenure in acting capacity ended in September 2020 and the state was without a head of judiciary either in acting or substantive capacity for over one month and some days.

Ayade however swore-in the third in the rank of seniority; Justice Eyo Effiom Ita in acting capacity for another three months which elapsed this January 21, 2021.

Justice Ikpeme is expected to be sworn-in by the Governor following the confirmation she has now secured on the third attempt.

The motion for the confirmation of Justice Ikpeme as the substantive Chief Judge of the state was moved by the majority leader of the State Assembly Hon. Peter Odey and seconded by the Chief Whip, Hon. Okon Ephriam.

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