Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Intrigues as Michael Edem Retires as CRS CJ

6 August 2019 

The legal profession has been steeped in a tradition of conservatism from its foundations in Ancient Rome. Privileges and honours are dispensed in strict conformity with laid down conventions. Thus, it has been that headship of the Judiciary at all levels of Government are made seamlessly, with the baton usually falling on the most senior judicial officer in service. 

The tradition of the appointment of the Chief Judge of Cross River State has always followed the time-honoured culture of the most senior judge getting the nod. Thus, in keeping with the tradition, the State Judicial Service Commission is said to have advised the Governor of the imminent retirement of the State Chief Judge, Michael Edem, and the need to recommend the most senior Judge on the State Bench, Justice Akon Ikpeme, for confirmation as the new Chief Judge. However, impeccable sources in Government House confided in NEGROIDHAVEN that the Governor, Ben Ayade, has rejected the recommendation of Mrs. Ikpeme, directing he be given 2 names from which he will pick one to replace Edem. 

The directive of the Governor is strange and would set a dangerous precedent in the Judiciary. Independent sources allege the Governor is not favourably disposed to having to deal with a woman as head of the judicial arm. Also, it is believed sectional elements have won the sympathy of Gov. Ayade in a concerted propaganda to stop Justice Ikpeme who is said to hail from another State, only being married to a Cross Riverian. 

A senior lawyer in the State who had served as Attorney-General and wished to not be named for fear of political backlash has advised the Governor against bowing to pressure to have the seat of the Chief Judge bestowed on a junior judge who is said to have marital relationship with Gov. Ayade. The former AG opined that the power of State Governor should be exercised to promote inclusiveness, equity, justice and fairplay, noting that Justice Ikpeme was eminently qualified to be CJ having been born, bred and married in Cross River State where she has served for over 30 years. 

We shall watch this space closely in the coming weeks to see whether nepotism will triumph over legal rules. 

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