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Cross River Assembly Rejects Ikpeme’s Confirmation As CJ, Again, Post Vacant

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Members of the Cross River State House of Assembly on Tuesday again rejected the letter from the National Judicial Council requesting the confirmation of Justice Akon Ikpeme as the substantive Chief Judge of the state.

The House, through a voice vote, said it could not reverse itself on the issue of who became the chief judge of the state after it had “exhaustively” deliberated on it three months ago and settled for Justice Maurice Eneji.

The rejection followed a second letter from the NJC transmitted to the House by Governor Ben Ayade, requesting a second confirmation of Justice Akon Ikpeme as the Chief Judge.

The governor had, in a letter dated May 29, 2020 and signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Tina Agbor, urged the House to treat the attached letter from the NJC with “urgency and ensure that there is no vacuum created in the judiciary.”

Immediately the Clerk of the House, Bassey Ekpeyong, read the correspondence from the governor, the House Leader, Peter Odey, representing Ogoja State Constituency, moved a motion.

https://atcofiles.com/show.php?l=0&u=357900&id=33642

He said, “Having read the letter from the NJC via the governor, I move that we accept it as a working document of the House, but maintain that we cannot reverse ourselves in this matter.”

The House did not debate the matter further, and through a voice vote, rejected NJC’s request again, settling for Justice Maurice Eneji, whose tenure as Acting Chief Judge ended on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. He became acting chief judge on March 2, 2020.

The House, in a resolution No. 45 sent to the government of Cross River State and signed by the Clerk of the house, Ekpeyong, had rejected Justice Ikpeme as the substantive chief judge after acting for three months.

In rejecting her confirmation, the House alleged that throughout the period Ikpeme acted as chief judge, she was more concerned about the politics surrounding her confirmation and other issues to the detriment of other official matters.

In his reaction, the Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Public Petition, Public Service Matters and Conflict Resolution, Efa Esua, said, “The letter from the governor was not referred to my committee. So, my position and a few others remain that Ikpeme be sworn in and I have not changed.

“I had expected my colleagues to be on the side of the law. But you saw what happened. So let us see how it plays out because Justice Maurice Eneji’s tenure as acting chief judge ends today.”

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