By Nsa Gill, Calabar
Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade has described the new Chief Judge of Cross River State, Justice Akon Ikpeme as covenant child who was destined to be the State Chief Judge.
According to the Governor, “as God has touched my heart, so had God touched the heart of every person in the position of taking decision in your favour. That has resulted in the swearing in of today. To God is the glory. You are a covenant child.”
He added “this brings to a close the worries of Cross River People for the stability in the state judiciary. The State is in a sorry state with a very low income but with huge projects. We definitely do not need any distraction; be it in the judiciary, the legislature or the executive. We need consistency and harmony of the three arms of government, while also keeping the constitutional provisions for the Separation of powers.”
Governor Ayade said over the course of the struggles of Justice Ikpeme to become the state Chief Judge, “I got to know her as a very good person and the right person for the job and she came at the right time.”
The Governor advised the new Chief Judge to “dispense justice without fear or favour; but be fair and know that God fought your battle. No man fought your battle.”
In her remarks after taking the oath of office, Justice Akon Ikpeme said, “Your Excellency, you have said it all. I want to first and foremost give glory to God who rules in the affairs of men and has made this day possible. I also want to thank the governor for making this day a reality. I thank you from the depth of my heart.”
“I thank the NBA President, Olumide Akpata Esq who is here with us the witness the event. I thank elders of the BAR and the entire judiciary as well as the media. I can’t forget to thank my Husband who is my pillar of support and I blessed the day I found him.”
She pledged that “the judiciary under my watch will cooperate with the executive and the legislature so that we can move Cross River State forward.”
Responding to questions from newsmen on the sideline of the event, Justice Ikpeme noted that “It will be foolhardy to dwell in the past. We have to dwell in the future and move the judiciary forward and not looking into any challenge on our way to getting to where we are. Like the Governor has said, this is the work of God and not man. We have to do the best to the glory of God.”
The National President of Nigeria Bar Association Mr. Olumide Akpata who graced the occasion said “the NBA is happy that the right thing has been done. We are extremely delighted. It is a fitting climax to a long struggle. The ability to resolve huge challenges is the hallmark of leadership. I am glad that all the dramatis personae have been able to come to this fantastic outcome. The outcome reflects the internment of our constitution.”
He called on the new Chief Judge to work assiduously; knowing that she is inheriting a judiciary with a lot of issues. I pray God to give her the strength and the wisdom to navigate the stormy waters and ensure that she delivers the goods for the judiciary of Cross River State. We expect her to work and cooperate with the other arms of government but at the same time, uphold the independence of the judiciary.”
“The NBA has been part of the process and we are delighted at the outcome and will continue to take special interest in what is happening in Cross River State.”
The swearing in ceremony was also witnessed by four visiting judges from Delta, Enugu and Akwa Ibom states as well as some Senior Advocates of Nigeria in the State, the former deputy governor of the state, Mr. Efiok Cobhom and many other dignitaries within and outside the state.
Justice Ikpeme is the second female Chief Judge in the state. She is 62 years of age and was made a judge in November 16, 1998.
She is succeeding the immediate past substantive Chief Judge of the state, retired Justice Michael Edem who exited the seat since November 2019.
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