By Peter Uzoho
As the short tenure of the Acting Chief Judge of Cross River State, Justice Maurice Eneji, elapses in a few days’ time, the Founder and Executive Director of Project Alert on Violence Against Women, Ms Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, has alleged a plot by the state House of Assembly and the executive to replace him with someone else other than Justice Akon Ikpeme.
The state Governor, Prof. Ben Alade, acting with the state lawmakers had controversially appointed and confirmed Eneji, who was junior to Ikpeme by judicial ranking as the acting chief judge of the state in outright defiance to the National Judicial Council (NJC), which had screened Ikpeme for the position.
The Cross River State House of Assembly had argued that they could not confirm Ikpeme for the position because she was from Akwa Ibom State and that allowing her hold the position of the state’s chief judge would pose “security threat” to the state.
However, Effah-Chukwuma in a statement issued yesterday alleged that another “shenanigans” was about to happen in the state in the Cross River Chief Judge appointment.
According to her, “In a few days, the three-month tenure of the controversial acting Chief Judge of Cross River State, Justice Maurice Eneji, comes to an end. Stakeholders who condemned his appointment by Governor Ben Ayade anxiously await and fear a repeat of the shenanigans that led up to his appointment; shenanigans that threaten the principles of separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary. Will the Cross River State legislature and judiciary effectively come under the control of the executive led by Governor Ben Ayade?
“Today, the acting tenure of Justice Eneji has a few days left and the NJC has insisted that the rightful thing be done, which is to confirm Justice Akon Ikpeme as the only duly recommended person from them to assume the office of Chief Judge of Cross River State”.