Is it true that there is a plot by some members of the Cross River State House of Assembly to vote against the confirmation of the Justice Akon Ikpeme as chief judge of the state after the House committee presents its report to the House on Friday?
TNN learnt that a key official in the government held a meeting with some legislators from the north and central senatorial districts on Wednesday night where the lawmakers were told to ensure that they voted against Ikpeme.
The governor, Prof Ben Ayade has not been in support of Ikpeme as chief judge of the state. He is said to have preferred his kinsman for the top job. But unfortunately, the NJC had recommended Ikpeme for the appointment.
It took the resistance of some members of the Assembly for the letter from the governor to be read on the floor of the House on Wednesday. The speaker had claimed on Tuesday that the letter was not listed on the order paper and so it could not be read, a decision that did not do down well with some of the lawmakers who insisted that having received the correspondence from the governor since January 9, there was no reason not to present the matter for deliberation on the floor of the House.
It was after the Tuesday action, kick-started by Mr Efa Esua, chairman of the committee on judiciary, that the speaker, Mr Eteng William eventually decided to read the letter on Wednesday. It was then referred to the committee on judiciary.
The acting chief judge had to cut short her conference in Port Harcourt to honour the committee’s invitation for her screening on Thursday. The committee is expected to present its report on Friday. There will be a lacuna in the administration of justice in the state if a new chief judge does not resume after March 2, when Ikpeme’s tenure as acting chief judge is to end.
TNN was informed on Thursday that there is a grand plot to stop her confirmation by the time the House receives the report. Legislators from the north are said to have been mobilised to frustrate the confirmation.
The speaker would not take calls to his phone. On the other hand, Esua’s phones rang were said not to be reachable when TNN tried to reach him on Thursday.
During the week, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mba Ukweni who has been on the forefront for the confirmation of the acting chief judge had expressed the fear that a dangerous precedent was being set by the delay in confirmation of Ikpeme. He had vowed to fight on to ensure that justice was done on the matter.