From Judex Okoro, Calabar
After nearly thirteen months of politicking and legal battles over who becomes the next substantive Chief Judge (CJ) of Cross River State, Governor Ben Ayade and the House of Assembly have bowed to recommendations by the National Judicial Council (NJC) by confirming Justice Akon Bassey Ikpeme as the new CJ of the state.
In November 2019, Justice Michael Edem had retired as the substantive chief judge and since then the state has had three acting chief judges as its lawmakers refused to confirm Ikpeme who was recommended by the NJC ab initio for the position.
The House had rejected Ikpeme’s confirmation on the grounds that she is not from the state by birth, though married to a Cross River State man, an act that drew criticisms from Nigerians, including the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
However, the lawmakers made a volta face when they convened an emergency sitting yesterday and confirmed Justice Ikpeme as substantive chief judge following a letter with reference no SSG/S/300/VOL.XVIX/550 dated January 20, 2021 transmitted to them by Governor Ayade.
In the letter by the Secretary to State Government, Tina Banku Agbor, the governor, sought for the confirmation of Justice Ikpeme in line with the power conferred on him by Section 271(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
The House presided over by Speaker Eteng William, in an unanimous yes-vote confirmed Ikpeme after the motion moved by Peter Odey and seconded by Okon Ephraim.
William, before the motion, had told members that it was the third time the governor had forwarded Ikpeme’s nomination to them and appealed that there was no need to debate the matter.
Clerk of the House, Bassey Ekpenyong, was thereafter directed to forward the letter of Ikpeme’s confirmation to the governor for onward transmission to NJC.