President of Nigeria Bar Association, (NBA), Olumide Akpata, has called on the governor and the House of Assembly of Cross River to confirm the appointment and of Justice Akon Ikpeme as the substantive chief judge of the state inline with National Judicial Council (NJC) recommendation and provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
The NBA president said doing otherwise will brew a constitutional crisis and strike at the very root of the rule of law.
“This vacancy is also crippling judicial activities and is undermining the independence of the judiciary in Cross River State,” Akpata said.
Akpata, in a statement yesterday, said: “With dismay, NBA has been following the protracted crisis rocking the judiciary in Cross River. The hallowed office of the chief judge of the state has remained vacant for about two weeks following the expiration of the three-month tenure of Maurice Odey Eneji, who took office in acting capacity in line with the 1999 Constitution (as altered).”
He said the NBA present administration has pledged to monitor compliance with the 1999 Constitution and the Rules and Procedure of the NJC on the selection and appointment of superior court judges, stating that the constitution was designed to forestall any scenario involving a vacancy in the office of a chief judge; and the NJC, in the proper exercise of its constitutional mandate, had made recommendations for the appointment of a substantive chief judge.
“The NBA is particularly disturbed by the reasons undergirding the refusal, by the Cross River State House of Assembly, to confirm the recommendation and appointment of Ikpeme as substantive chief judge. The NJC has unanimously agreed that the reasons adduced by the House of Assembly are untenable and unsubstantiated, and reinforced its recommendation of Ikpeme…,” he said