Thursday, 27 February 2020

Breaking; See why CRSHA will not confirm Justice Ikpeme as State Chief Judge

LR: Speaker Eteng Williams and Justice Ikpeme


According to insider sources who for fear would not want their names on print, there's a strong plot to ensure that the Cross River State House of Assembly does not confirm the state acting Chief Judge, Justice Akon Ikpeme, as substantive chief judge of the state

Our source disclosed that some members of the Cross River State 9th Assembly have been offered N500,000 each to ensure that the Justice is not cleared for confirmation. The game is to ensure they are absent from the sitting where Justice Ikpeme would be present for confirmation. This is to ensure the house doesn't form a quorum. 

It should be recalled that TDN had on the 26th of February 2020, reported that the Speaker, Cross River State House of Assembly stood down one of his colleagues, Rt. Hon. Ekpo Ekpo, when he raised the issue during plenary seeking to know when the house would call for the screening and subsequent confirmation of Justice Akon Bassey Ikpeme as substantive Chief Judge of the state. The speaker was reported to have shot him down saying that the matter was not listed for discussion.

He was quoted to have said "That is not our rules, what you are asking is not before us, we cannot treat that today, it is not before us, if it is a matter that is before us we will treat it, it was not listed. That matter is closed.

"We are all Cross Riverians, we know the danger of not confirming the Acting Chief Judge but it is not before us today, I am not aware of any correspondence on the confirmation of Chief Judge, I am not aware, that matter is closed," the speaker hit the gavel.

But surprisingly the same correspondence the speaker claimed he had not seen or was not aware of was present the very next day on the floor of the house. The correspondence sighted by TDN was dated 8th January 2020 with a stamp from the Speaker's office acknowledging that it was received on the 9th of January 2020. 

How would a correspondence be received in the speaker's office on the 9th of January and on the 25th of February, 47 days after, the speaker claims not to have seen such a document? But the house was quick to have seen and treated other correspondence sent to the house through the speaker in February 2020, because they had to do with acquiring of credit facilities and approval for appointments which the speaker and some members of the house are rumored to have a personal interest in.

It took the intervention of some members of the house, the likes of Rt. Hon. Ekpo Ekpo and Efah Esua who put out their necks for the speaker to include the matter of confirmation of the state acting Chief Judge in the next day's deliberation. 

According to the Chief Press Secretary to the Speaker, Mr. Hope Obeten, "The Cross River State House of Assembly today, 26th February 2020 took the correspondence for the Nomination for Appointment of Hon. Justice Akon Bassey Ikpeme as Chief Judge of Cross River State into the state public service. 

Mr. Speaker committed the  correspondence requesting to grant consequential confirmation of the nominee to the Committee on Judiciary, Public Service Matters, Public Petition and Conflict Resolution for further legislative action and to report back to the House within 1 (one) week." 

Surprisingly the committee held its screening of the acting Chief Judge the very next day being today, 27th February with the intention that she is likely to be confirmed tomorrow 28th February 2020. 

But grapevine sources have it that members have been bribed not to attend tomorrow's session so the house won't form a quorum and the confirmation will be stalled. Aside from the alleged bribe, the source also revealed that perceived godfathers of some lawmakers have been approached to call their godsons/daughters to order and ensure they don't attend the sitting 

Recall that the governor of the state, Senator Prof. Ben Ayade had through his body language since last year, shown his unwillingness to have Justice Akon Ikpeme sit as the state Chief Judge. To see to this, he had started the battle with the immediate past Chief Judge Justice Michael Edem. Ayade started by constricting the former Chief Judge's official residence and had since then embarked on a cold war with the quiet and calm Chief Judge. 

It is being rumored that the governor is eyeing his kinsman who is Junior to Justice Ikpeme for the plumb job not minding, the provisions of the Constitution. 

Having being prevailed upon by the National Judicial Council to forward Ikpeme's name to the Assembly for screening and confirmation, the governor seems to be still bent on ensuring he has his way by using the Legislature to block her chances of accessing her right as the most senior Judge in the state.