Politics and ethnic considerations have crept into the appointment of a new Chief Judge of Cross River State, with the development pitting the state governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, against the judicial arm of government in the state.
At issue is the Governor Ayade’s decision to bypass the most senior judge and appoint a junior officer instead. But the retiring Chief Judge, Justice Michael Edem, and other judiciary officers in the state are resisting government’s planned imposition, insisting that Justice Akon Ikpeme is the rightful person to act as chief judge of the state.
Justice Edem, while formally bowing out on November 29 at a colourful valedictory court session, announced Justice Ikpeme as the Acting Chief Judge pending ratification of his appointment by the National Judicial Council (NJC) as nature abhors vacuum. The state government had earlier inaugurated a new State Judicial Service Council (JSC), excluding some old members and the former Chief Judge (Justice Edem) to help throw up a junior judge as the chief judge.