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Tuesday, 3 March 2020

C’ River Assembly rejects Justice Ikpeme as Chief Judge

C’ River Assembly rejects Justice Ikpeme as Chief Judge

The Cross River State House of Assembly has rejected Justice Akon Ikpeme as substantive chief judge of the state over her ancestry.

The House in a voice vote declined her confirmation after rejecting two parallel reports presented by a divided committee on judiciary that screened Ikpeme.

In the last four months, the House had been dilly-dallying in confirming Justice Ikpeme even as it had attracted public outcry.

In one of the reports, Efah Esua, chairman of the committee, accepted her nomination as substantive chief judge and recommended that the House gave the go-ahead.

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However in a parallel report, Godwin Akwaji, representing Obudu state constituency alongside five others, recommended that Akon be rejected because she is not from Cross River.

As a result of the impasse, the House after extensive deliberations on both reports constituted themselves into committee of the whole house which ultimately rejected her confirmation through a voice vote

Speaking during plenary, Ekpo Ekpo Bassey, member representing Bakassi, cautioned the House against setting a bad precedence.

“This is my fifth year in the House and I have never seen two reports by a committee being presented to the House. The House has to be on the side of justice at all times and avoid setting a bad precedence.

“We need to strengthen institutions and avoid sowing seeds of ethnicity and disunity in the House,” he said.

Also speaking, Itam Abang from Boki state constituency, said never in the history of the House had two reports been presented.

“Never in the history of the House have we had two reports. It’s very sad that in the 21st century we are whipping up ethnic sentiments. It’s wrong to whip up ethnic sentiments because we have children and don’t know where they will be married.

“She gave the state her productive years and rejecting her on account of her origin is injustice of the highest order,” she said

Also speaking, Francis Bassey Asuquo representing Odukpani state constituency, said Akon is from his constituency Odukpani and his people are proud of her.

He added that states were created for administrative convenience and Akon’s record of service was impeachable.

However, Chris Ogar from Etung state constituency, who read the parallel report said her confirmation would constitute a conflict of interest because she is from Akwa Ibom.

He urged the House to withhold her confirmation because it would not be in the best interest of Cross River State.

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