Judex Okoro, Calabar
Members of the Cross River State House of Assembly are in state of unease over non confirmation of the state acting Chief Judge.
Acting Chief Judge Akon Bassey Ikpeme’s tenure would expire on Monday, March 2, and the Assembly would either confirm her or another person would be appointed in her place.
She has been on acting capacity close to three months and her last day in the office as Acting Chief Judge of the state would be on March 2.
Governor Ayade on January 9 recommended Justice Akon Ikpeme as the next substantive Chief Judge of the state and later sent correspondence to the House for further screening and final confirmation.
During plenary today, our correspondent observed that members were divided and were seen holding different meetings within the Assembly Complex on how to counter each other.
However, after heated arguments outside the chambers, the lawmakers returned and made their contributions on the matter.
After the contributions made by virtually all the 25 members, the speaker, Hon Eteng Williams, referred the matter to the Committee on Judiciary, Public Petition, Public Service Matters and Conflict Resolution and ordered that the report of the screening be submitted within one week.
But the chairman of Judiciary, Public Petition, Public Service Matters and Conflict Resolution, Hon Efa Esua, said the Acting Chief Judge would be screened as quickly as possible to enable the House to meet the March 2 deadline.
Esua said: “The committee will do the needful and come up with the report within a reasonable period of time so that the executive can swear her in on Monday.
“The committee had screened 39 commissioner nominees within 48 hours and laid the report before the House and they were sworn in. This is only one person; the committee is quiet capable and willing to do it.
“The moment we get the document, we are going to convene a meeting which means the leadership of the House including the speaker and others have indicated interest to attend.
Our correspondent reveals that lawmakers form the northern part of the state were rooting for Justice Maurice Eneji said to be Governor Ben Ayade’s preferred candidate.