Chiemeka ADINDU, Calabar
There seems to be uncertainty in the Cross River State Judiciary after the National Judicial Council, NJC turned down the request of the state governor demanding for the extension of Justice Eyo Ita as the acting chief judge of the state.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mba Ukweni disclosed this to TNN during an interview with him in Calabar. He said the governor has kept the state’s judiciary in a shameful state following his continuous refusal to confirm Justice Akon Ikpeme who is the most senior judge in the state as the chief judge.
He therefore appealed to the governor to do the needful by approving the recommendation of the NJC and confirm Akon Ikpeme as the substantive chief judge of the state.
He said: “reliably, the National Judicial Council has turned down the request of the governor for the extension of Eyo Ita; which means by 12 midnight today, the tenure of Justice Eyo Ita will come to and end. The only option as I’ve said, open to the governor, and the most honourable option is for him to go back to the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, retransmit his request for the house to confirm Justice Akon Ikpeme as the chief judge and swear her in before we turn into another crisis.
“The junior lawyers may not be restrained from going to the streets any longer because it has become a cycle of shame, cycle of foolishness. You know this is a foolish act and you continue doing the same thing. If he can’t do that, the option open to him, is the cycle of foolishness I am talking about, is to appoint Honourable Justice S. M. Anjor as the fourth person in acting capacity who will stay for another 3 months.”
He added that major the situation has fostered on Cross Riverians their reputation outside. “That is the major problem. The other one is the punishment the National Judicial Council has been meting on us. This is the third time judges a been appointed across the states of the federation and we don’t have one because of the attitude of the governor. The implication is that our number will continue depleting in the judiciary and we are not having our share with regards to the judiciary.
” His major agenda is to appoint his in-law, Maurice Eneji who will do his bidding, as the chief judge. He wants to appoint a crony so as to take over that office as he has taken charge of other arms of the government. That is the domineering pattern he wants to take”, the senior lawyer frowned.
Ukweni also noted that unusual things are beginning to happen in the state, bemoaning the recent withdrawal of magistrates in the state from sitting in court because of the governor’s inability to pay them for over one year.
He also said the governor owe residents of the state an apology for his inability to fulfill his campaign promises which has made him to go back to repairing potholes which he earlier said he was not a governor of potholes.