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Community flays Ayade over C’River CJ appointment delay

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By Joseph Kingston, Calabar

The Eniong Abatim community in Odukpani local government area of Cross River state area has called on Governor Ben Ayade to swear in Justice Akon Ikpeme as the substantive chief judge of the state.

The community decried the concept of the state having three acting judges within a year and said it would be a mockery of the judiciary. They insisted that Ikpeme should be sworn in without further delay.

In a chat with our reporter in Calabar, last Sunday, the chairman of the community, Dr David Okon, said the position of government was against laid down judicial precedents and that the development was capable of derailing democracy in the state.

“We do not care about the legions of acting chief judges that may have been sworn-in as it is now turning out to be the order of the day. What we are asking for is that the right thing be done. There is a precedent that has been in the judiciary (by which), after Justice Mike Edem retired last year, the next person, in the order of seniority, Justice Akon Ikpeme should be the substantive chief judge. What is happening in the state is a mockery of the judiciary.

“Few weeks ago, we had young people on the streets asking the government to end SARS. As far as I am concerned, the so-called SARS has a lot of connotations and is not limited to policemen brutalising the civilians and all that. You find the so-called SARS in almost all fabrics and sectors of living and it speaks of injustice and impunity. And if it is not done away with completely, the future may be bleak.”

The community leader, who explained that Ikpeme had been married to an Eniong Abatim son for almost 40 years without any problem, noted further that she had “contributed immensely to the development of our community and the entire Cross River state, with high sense of responsibility, honesty, and diligence.”

“We therefore frown at the tagging of our daughter (sic) as ‘a security risk’ in the state where she was born, grew up, married and spent all her productive years to build.

Asked if the Eniong people should not, now, feel contented seeing another of their own, Justice Eyo Efiom Ita, as the current acting chief judge, Okon said the people’s position remained that an injustice which has been meted out to Justice Ikpeme be corrected with her swearing in as substantive chief judge, advising, therefore that “people should wait for their turn.”

His words: “Bringing in a sort of divide-and-rule system is not good for the people and is not the best of politics, especially at this point in time. We are calling for justice.”

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