By CrossRiverWatch Admin
Unconfirmed news has it that the National Judicial Council (NJC) has ordered Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State to swear in Justice Akon Ikpeme as the substantive Chief Judge of the State.
According to Pillar Today top Judiciary sources in Abuja revealed that the NJC issued the order yesterday (April 23) after a protracted meeting in Abuja.
The source further disclosed that NJC dismissed out-rightly allegations put forward by the State House of Assembly that Justice Akon was a security risk.
“The NJC unanimously agreed that Justice Ikpeme could not be a security risk considering the fact that all security agencies in the country had cleared her. Accordingly they turned down the State Government’s request for the NJC to accept another person insisting that Justice Ikpeme remained the most senior Judge in the Cross River State Judiciary.
“The NJC may refer Justice Maurice Eneji to a Disciplinary Committee.” Pillar Today source said.
As at the time of filing this report, a mail has been sent to NJC for confirmation. No reply has been gotten.
It could be recalled that after being appointed in acting capacity on December 3, 2019 following the retirement of former Chief Judge, Justice Michael Edem, the House of Assembly on March 3, 2020 rejected Ikpeme.
The House of Assembly said her confirmation would pose security threat to Cross River State since she is an indigene of Akwa Ibom, and that the best interest of the State would not be served if she become the substantive Chief Judge.
Uproar had greeted that decision as many individuals, professional bodies, organizations and groups protested against Ayade’s Government decision even as they saw the development as travesty of justice.
A Federal High Court sitting in Calabar and presided over by Justice Simon Amobeda dismissed a fundamental rights suit by First Baba Isa seeking the declaration of the refusal of the Cross River House of Assembly to confirm the State’s former acting Chief Judge on the basis of her origin on the grounds that the evidence presented was not “satisfactory.”
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