Non-Confirmation of Ikpeme As Chief Judge Grave Injustice - FIDA
By Jude Chukwuemeka
Sandra Ezekwesili takes on the issue of Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State and the state House of Assembly and the non-confirmation of Justice Akon Ikpeme as substantive Chief Judge in that state.
Sandra analyzes the issue first on the Glass Ceiling, a 99.3 Nigeria Info show that comes up every Wednesday by 4pm.
Generally, the show is devoted to examining issues that hold women back from making progress in the workplace, in the community, in the society, in politics, and everywhere else.
Sandra mentions that earlier in the year, the Chief Judge of the Federation, Justice Michael Edem retired. Justice Ikpeme had been Acting Chief Judge of the state since March 12, 2019, following the retirement of Justice Michael Edem.
However, at the expiration of her tenure on March 2, she was not confirmed as substantive chief judge, but replaced by Justice Eneji. The proper way to do it, is for the State Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to send the name of the most senior Judge to the Federal JSC. Justice Akon Ikpeme happens to be the most senior in this case.
On the show, Sandra also mentions that the International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA, Nigeria, has faulted Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State and the state House of Assembly on the non-confirmation of Justice Akon Ikpeme as substantive Chief Judge.
The Federation described the replacement of Justice Ikpeme, acting Chief Judge, with Justice Maurice Eneji as “an act of grave injustice” and “undue interference and discrimination.” The reasons given by the Governor is that Justice Ikpeme is not from Cross River State, she's an indigene of Akwa Ibom State.
She was not born in Cross River but is married to a man from Cross River State. She has also worked in Cross River State for the entire part of her career. Even though the state JSC wanted to send her name to Abuja, Governor Ayade created a new JSC, which sent another name to Abuja.
The Federal JSC urged Cross River to follow the rules. The original JSC sent Justice Ikpeme's name to Abuja and she became the Acting Chief Judge but that isn't the end of the story.
As Ikpeme's tenure as Acting Chief Judge expired, it was time for the state House of Assembly to confirm her as the Substansive Chief Judge. The House voted against Ikpeme because, according to them, she is not an indigene.
FIDA Nigeria condemns the action, and Sandra quotes what the Federation says: "The action of appointing a junior judge instead of Justice Akon Ikpeme, who is the next senior judge in the hierarchy of Cross River State Judiciary is a grave injustice.
“Justice Ikpeme, being the most senior judge in the state, is the rightful person to act as Chief Judge of the state, since nothing else disqualifies her.
“The government cannot impose a junior based on tribalism and zoning. Issues such as geo-political zoning, tribe have no place in evaluating this decision.
“Section 271(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) confirms this position and is further supported by our legal professional rules of practice.
“The profession does not tolerate a deviation from the practice."
Sandra opens the phone lines to take the thoughts of Nigerians regarding this. What about you, do you think the action of Cross Rivers State Governor and the House of Assembly is right? Follow the gist. Play the video above and don't forget to leave your comments.