Judex Okoro, Calabar
A protest by Concerned Lawyers of Cross River has entered its second day as the legal practitioners have barricaded the judiciary headquarters at Mary Slessor Avenue in Calabar.
Justice Eyo Effiom Ita was sworn in as the third Acting Chief Judge of Cross River state by Governor Ben Ayade yesterday following his (Ita) recommendation by the National Judicial Commission, NJC.
In the last ten months, the State has had three Acting Chief Judge including Justices Akon Ikpeme and Maurice Enji two times.
But the lawyers are insisting that they do not want another Acting Chief Judge of the State as that would not solve the problem that has been lingering on in the judiciary.
Determined to press home their demands, the lawyers, for the second day running, took to the streets of Calabar about 8:00 am on Tuesday and ended up at the gate of the judiciary headquarters and displayed placards with various inscriptions.
Some of the inscriptions read: “#END VACANCY in CRS Judiciary;” “This is not the time to take sides, let’s fill the vacancy in the judiciary,” and “CRS judiciary is in want of leadership.”
Spokesman of the group Effiom Ayi said never in the history of the State been enmeshed in a totally avoidable bickering and dirty politics.
‘We cannot in all sense of responsibility say that after three hundred and eighteen days (318), Cross River State cannot have a chief judge in a substantive capacity.
‘As at Friday, October 16, 2020, over a hundred cases including fundamental rights action filed by citizens cannot be assigned or heard.
‘Letters of administration and probate cannot be granted, recommendations for appointment of judges, senior advocates of Nigeria and notaries public cannot be issued.
‘The negative effect and impact of all these on the security of the state, the economy, legal practice and the growth of the legal profession are evidently loud.
‘Never in the history of the state has the judiciary been enmeshed in this totally avoidable bickering and dirty politics as to who should occupy the office of the Chief Judge,’ he said.
He called on the executive and legislative arms of the government to immediately fill the vacancy in line with the recommendation of the NJC.
Earlier, the senior lawyers and some Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SAN, including former Senate Leader Victor Ndoma Egba, and MBA Ukweni have all called on the state Governor, Ben Ayoade, to swear in Justice Akon Ikpeme as the substantive Chief Judge as recommended by National Judicial Commission, NJC.
The House of Assembly and Governor Ayade have for some inscrutable reasons two times turned down the NJC’s recommendation to swear in Ikpeme.
Ikpeme is the most senior justice in the state judiciary followed by Maurice Eneji and the current Acting Chief Judge, Eyo Ita.