Ada Wodu, Punch
The Cross River State House of Assembly has confirmed Justice Akon Ikpeme as substantive Chief Judge of the state after rejecting her twice.
The confirmation took place on Thursday at the state House of Assembly in Calabar following a motion moved by the Leader of the House and representative of Ogoja Constituency, Peter Odey, and seconded by Chief Whip, Okon Ephraim, representing Calabar South 1.
A letter by Governor Ben Ayade seeking her confirmation as the substantive Chief Judge of the state was read on the floor of the House by the Clerk, Bassey Ekpenyong before a motion was moved for her confirmation which was done by an overwhelming voice vote.
Speaking on why Ikpeme was confirmed Thursday as the substantive Chief Judge in spite of her earlier rejection, the Speaker, Eteng Williams said, “The Assembly just did its job. We got new facts. We got documents that we needed. We’ve done our own findings,” adding that what the lawmakers had done was to stabilise the judiciary.
He said the Chief Judge is expected to discharge her duty without fear or favour and that she should be fair.
Also speaking, Peter Odey who moved the motion for Ikpeme’s confirmation, said, “It was the decision of the House at that time not to confirm her. And it is the decision of the House of Assembly to confirm her today. The House has done the needful and that chapter is now behind us. I wish Cross River judiciary well.”
It was alleged that the National Judicial Council did not extend the tenure of Justice Eyo Effiom-Ita whose acting period ended on Monday, January 18, 2021, thus setting the stage for Ikpeme’s confirmation.
Justice Akon Ikpeme had served as Acting Chief Judge of the state for three months, followed by Justice Maurice Eneji, who acted for six months while Justice Eyo Effiom-Ita acted for three months.
The National Judicial Council had earlier recommended Justice Ikpeme to be confirmed as Chief Judge of the State following the retirement of Justice Michael Edem in 2019.
However, the State House of Assembly refused to confirm her, saying Justice Ikpeme was an indigene of Akwa Ibom State though married to a Cross Riverman.