BY: Nick Nwaneri, Calabar
Tension is mounting within the Cross River State judiciary following the non confirmation of a new Acting Chief Judge, Justice Akon Bassey Ikpeme by the State House of Assembly.
According to the State Judiciary Service Commission, Akon was recommended to the state governor Senator Ben Ayade as the most senior Judge to become the substantive Chief Judge of the State.
In solidarity with Ikpeme, the premises of the High Court along Mary Slessor road was under lock and key as the entrance remained blocked in the early hours of yesterday.
Lawyers as well as staff of the state High court were barricaded from entry into their offices as at the time of filing this story.
Sources close to the court, told Patriot News that the staff of the state high court had planned a protest march to the Cross River State House of Assembly to condemn the decision of the lawmakers not to confirm Justice Ikpeme.
It was also gathered that barely one month ago, due process was followed as the governor communicated to the House the need to confirm Justice Ikpeme as the substantive chief Judge of Cross River State.
Rather than acting, the House of Assembly deliberately ignored the matter till today that her tenure as acting chief Judge is expiring.
What this means is that there is going to be a vacuum in the third tier of government.
This ugly development is a dent on the image of the judiciary in the state and the entire nation..
This will greatly affect members of the public wishing to seek justice through the court of law.
Over the past six months or more the state judiciary has had itvrough with the state governor, Senator Ben Ayade on who becomes they Chief Judge after the retirement of Justice Michael Edem.
The issue of Chief Judge’s residence which the governor had taken over had remained unresolved and yet who becomes substantive chief Judge has set in.
Stakeholders believe that the state governor is playing politics with the judiciary arm of government in the state.
They therefore called on the Nigeria Bar Association leadership to stop the governor from going further and should allow due process to prevail.
The Judiciary Service Commission has its records and is in a position to advice the governor properly, they argued.