Cross River State Governor, Sir Ben Ayade Tuesday, swore in Justice Akon Ikpeme as the acting Chief Judge of the state.

This is coming after much pressure and intrigues. The state government had rooted for a junior colleague, Justice Maurice Eneji that was recommended by the newly inaugurated Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on November 27.
The Ayade administration had constituted the commission with Justice Agbojo Ogar (rtd) as chairman instead of the then sitting CJ, Justice Michael Edem who walked out in protest.
The judiciary, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), senior lawyers (SANs) and others had moved against the decision of the government to swear in a junior as the state’s chief law officer

The swearing of Justice Ikpeme follows the retirement of Hon. Justice Michael Edem, as the Chief Judge of the state.

The governor, at the swearing in said, “I have full respect for section 153 of the 1999 constitution as amended, which provides for the setting up of the National Judicial Council to safeguard the judiciary from the executive.”

According to Ayade, “the National Judicial Council is the final authority on matters involving the appointment of the Chief Judge of the state. I also recognise the role of the governor as well and I believe that for the interest and peace of the state, for the goodness of character and the warmness of the state, the right thing to do at this point is what the state has done by swearing in an acting chief Judge.”
The governor maintained that, “the beauty of the law is that the law is derived from morality, ethics and norms of the people,” pointing out that “the law has moral sensitivity that we must respect hence Hon Justice Ikpeme’s appointment today is a clear testimony of the civilization of Cross River state.”

Ayade expressed his excitement at the acting Chief Judge’s curriculum vitae, stating that he has no doubt on her intellectual capacity that will drive the judiciary of the state.
 “Let me congratulate you for this great feat because I know as a woman you have higher ethics and higher morals and I believe that as a mother, all of those qualities will come to bare,” the governor stated.

Declaring his full respect for the acting Chief Judge given her pedigree, capacity, qualification and content, Ayade intimated that, “given your extensive experience as I read out from your CV, it is obvious and clear that indeed your tenure as the acting Chief Judge of Cross River will see a tremendous improvement in our judicial system.”

Responding, the newly sworn in Acting Chief Judge thanked God who rules in the affairs of men and the governor for swearing her in, as she pledged to work in sincerity during her tenure.

Applauding the governor for being a father of the entire state, the acting Chief Judge expressed hope that, “as a father you will not allow the judiciary or the legislature to crumble.”
Hon Justice Ikpeme averred that “the separation of the arms of government as contained in the constitution emanated from the Bible when God said I am the king, the law giver and the judge,” adding that, “all are separated but work as one as when one leg fails, the others also fail.”

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