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Ayade swears in new chief judge, demands fairness

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By Joseph Kingston, Calabar

Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River state has charged the new chief judge of the state, Justice Akon Ikpeme, to be fair to all so as to move the state judiciary forward.

The governor, during the swearing in, noted that the state was passing through a challenging period in its history and, so, would want the state judiciary to remain rancour-free so as to join hands with the executive and legislative arms to tackle those challenges.

Describing the new chief judge as the right person for the job, the governor said Ikpeme was being sworn in at the right time and that despite the episodes of the last nine months which worked against her, she was indeed God’s choice.

“As God touched my heart over your matter, so has He touched the heart of every other person on your behalf. You must put behind you any ordeal you passed through in the course of your emergence.

“As a child of God, I expect you to dispense justice fairly, know that it was God who fought your battles. We need no distraction again in our judiciary”, he stated.

In her response, Justice Ikpeme lauded the governor and members of the House of Assembly for making the day a reality, and described the governor as humane.

“Let me assure His Excellency and the people of Cross River state that the judiciary, under my watch, shall cooperate with the executive and the last legislative arms to move Cross River state forward.

“We have put the past behind us. It would be foolhardy to dwell there. Every member of the Cross River state judiciary shall be carried along and we shall ensure justice and fairness to all,” she stated.

Recall that the State House of Assembly had, nine months ago, rejected Justice Ikpeme on the basis of her ethnic background, prompting the governor to swear on two junior judges on acting capacity who were on the saddle between March 2020 to January 2021.

The House, however, had a change of mind two weeks ago and confirmed her as a substantive chief judge, allegedly due to pressure from the National Judicial Commission which reportedly insisted on the most senior judge in the state judiciary, Ikpeme, as a substantive chief judge.

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