The people of Eniong Abatim community in Odukpani local government area have restated their position on the stalemate surrounding the swearing-in of a substantive Chief Judge for Cross River state, insisting that Justice Akon Ikpeme be sworn in without further delay.
The Chairman of the community, Elder Dr David Okon, in a chat with our reporter, said the refusal of the State government to swear in Justice Ikpeme was an injustice capable of derailing democracy in the state, and described the development as a mockery of the judiciary.
He said, “We have watched the dramatic intrigue surrounding the confirmation of Justice Akon Ikpeme as the Chief Judge of Cross River State, since March 3, 2020 and wish to state our position as follows: Justice Akon Ikpeme is our daughter and has been married to our son from Okpo Eniong for almost forty years without any problem.
“She has her home in Eniong Abatim and has been an active member of several Eniong Abatim Development Associations over the years without any sentiment. She has contributed immensely to the development of our community and the entire Cross River State, with high sense of responsibility, honesty, and diligence.
“To have merited the elevation to the Chief Judge of Cross River State as part of her career is commendable and a source of pride to Eniong Abatim people; especially when there is nothing incriminating against her, as attested to by security community in the country.
“We therefore frown at the tagging of our daughter as ‘a security risk’ in the state where she was born, grew up, married and spent all her productive years to build.
“We call on Governor Ben Ayade and the State Assembly to confirm her as the Substantive Chief Judge of Cross River State, on the expiration of the current acting Chief Judge; and failure to do so will not only set a dangerous precedence in legal and political maneuvering in the state, but may also exacerbates socio-political tension in the polity. A stitch in time saves nine.
“We will continue to live in peace with others and seek the progress and development of our beloved state.”
Asked on whether or not the Eniong people as a whole should not now be contended seeing another of their own, Justice Eyo Efiom Ita, as the current acting Chief Judge, Elder 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, and therefore advised that “people should wait for their turn.”
His words: “Bringing in a sort of a 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. Before the current person was sworn in on acting capacity, there was one other person that was sworn in.
“We do not care about the legions of acting chief judges that may be sworn-in as it is now turning out to be the order of the day, what we asking for is that the right thing be done. There is a precedent that has been in the Judiciary, after Justice Mike Edem retired, the next person in the order of seniority is Justice Akon Ikpeme and she 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 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 brutalizing 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.”