By Archibong Jeremiah
The residence of the Chief Judge of Cross River State High Court has finally been returned fifteen months after it was seized from the then CJ, Justice Michael Edem (retired) by the State Governor, Sen. Ben Ayade.
The information was disclosed to lawyers by the Chief Judge, Justice Akon Ikpeme during an interactive session at the ongoing NBA Bar – Bench Forum, in Calabar, the first Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria..
How The Property Was Seized
Speaking at the formal opening of the 2019/2020 legal year in Calabar, Justice Michael Edem (retired) lamented the seizure of his official residence by the State Government.
“The fact of the matter is that during the last Green Carnival programme of the State, the Governor called for the keys to accommodate two Governors since the available Government guest houses were not in a position to accommodate them.
“I was told that for security reasons, the Governors would not be accommodated with my staff. (Who were living in the back house). So they would have to move out of the quarters. sincerely believing that it was a mere palliative or a temporary measure, I conceded.
“Fortunately the event had since come and gone and I have written to His Excellency to surrender the keys and by extension the property back to me for the use of the premises in the opening of the legal year and my forthcoming November retirement events.
“Besides, I had clearly spelt out in the letter that ‘….it shall be my duty to surrender the keys and by extension the property to my successor’. I still await his reaction.
“If that is what is meant by ceding and forceful ejection, then words cede and eject cry to the high heavens for a redefinition. I am much at home with the legal decree that I cannot give out or cede what I have not.”
As at the time of filing this report the key is said to be in possession of the Chief Registrar while the Chief Judge is planning to visit the residence.
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