By Bassey Inyang
After nine months of undue delay, Justice Akon Ikpeme was yesterday sworn in as the substantive Chief Judge of Cross River State by the state Governor, Professor Ben Ayade.
While performing the inauguration at the Executive Chamber of his office, Ayade said her inauguration has a defined touch because it has happened at God’s appointed time.
The governor said the state was faced with a lot of challenges that would require a rancour-free judiciary to work in league with the executive and the legislature.
Ayade stated that from every indication, Justice Ikpeme has emerged the substantive Chief Judge at the right time, more so, being the rightful person to assume the position.
He told the new Judge to ensure that justice is dispensed without fear or favour, but with the fear of God who has won the battle for her.
According to Ayade, “As God touched my heart over your matter, so has He touched the heart of every other person on your behalf. You must put behind you any ordeal you passed through in the course of your emergence.
“As a child of God, I expect you to dispense justice fairly, knowing that it was God who fought your battles. We need no distraction again in our judiciary.”
In her remarks, Justice Ikpeme praised the governor and the lawmakers in the state, saying they made her swearing-in possible.
She promised that under her tenure as the Chief Jjudge, the judiciary will work closely with the executive and the legislature to ensure things move smoothly, saying the state has to move forward.
“Let me assure the governor and the people of Cross River State that the judiciary under my watch shall cooperate with the executive and the legislative arms to move the state forward.
“We have put the past behind us. It would be foolhardy to dwell there. Every member of the state judiciary shall be carried along, and we shall ensure justice and fairness to all,” she said.
Justice Ikpeme’s nomination was confirmed by the state House of Assembly on January 28, 2021, after a third request made by Ayade for the confirmation of her nomination as substantive Chief Judge.
On two previous occasions, March 2, 2020 and June 2, 2020, the lawmakers turned down the governor’s request based on the controversial notion that she would be a “security threat” to Cross River State, having been borne originally from an area now in Akwa Ibom State.