Friday, 18 October 2019

Netizen slams Gov Ayade over appointment of State Chief Judge

18 October 2019 

Bruno Bassey a social media user within Cross River cyberspace in an article with the title —'Time to Rescue the Cross River Judiciary', Wednesday slammed the Executive Governor of Cross River State over failure to appoint the qualified judge as State Chief Judge NEGROIDHAVEN has garnered. 

Amongst other things, Bassey is querying the quality of democracy and governance in the state. According to him, 'in what is looking like a well scripted agenda to subdue the Press and every independent body, Gov. Ayade is hell bent on defying the tradition of seniority in the appointment of the State Chief Justice. As Edem retires in a few days, Ayade is set to appoint a junior judge to supersede the most senior judge, Afiong Ikpeme, as the new CJ. Already senior citizens and usually conservative personalities as Ntufam MBA Ukweni, a senior advocate of Nigeria, has called out the Governor, labelling him as corrupt. 

'The public outburst of Mr. Ukweni, as sometime lead counsel to Gov. Ayade, reveals the growing frustrations and anger of the elites with Mr. Ayade's maladministration and lack of consultation and deference to wise counsel in his conduct of State affairs.

'It has become most urgent at this time for all stakeholders in the Cross River State Project to redeem the State from the precipice. Gov. Ayade must be made to understand that governance is impersonal. 

That the State is one big Family where all from the Governor to the youngest, the richest and the poorest, are all equal partners and stakeholders. It is not an Ayade Fiefdom where all opportunities and benefits, including career appointments must be only for the Ayade brothers and their minions', his state reads in part. 

Recalled that viral news report have it that the National Judicial Council, NJC, had dismissed the petition against Tribunal Judge, Hon. Justice Akon Ikpeme, following allegations laid before the Council.

Ikpeme was accused by Senator Smart Adeyemi in 2015 for collecting bribe when she headed the National and State Houses of Assembly election tribunal.

Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Ntufam Mba Ukweni, told newsmen in Calabar last week that the petition against Justice Akon Ikpeme has been thrown out as it lacks merit. Ukweni further stated that not all Justices in Nigeria are corrupt as some are still clean to do their legitimate work.

ParadiseNews reported Ukweni's words thus : 'The Council in its meeting held on the 18th April 2019, after deliberating on the report of the committee accepted the findings of the panel and dismissed the Petitions for lack of merit.' 

Ntufam Ukweni explained that he was among the team of lawyers that defended Justice Akon Ikpeme before a 3-man panel set up by the National Judicial Council.

He said, "The three man panel appointed by NJC to investigate the complaints, duly and meticulously investigated the complaints and found them to be false and unfounded", adding that the NJC found that the Petitioners failed to prove their allegations.

He emphatically stated that before the panel, Justice Ikpeme vehemently denied receiving any bribe. "The Judge strongly denied making confession to anybody and challenged the petitioners to produce the unnamed Presidential aide before whom she was alleged to have confessed but they were unable to do so".

The SAN said that the Court of Appeal in a unanimous decision totally upheld the Judgment of the tribunal in the Appeal filed before it in 2015. He described social media reports as fake news which had reported that the Judge confessed to a presidential aide that she was compromised.

"The decision of the NJC dismissing the petitions were conveyed to the Petitioners, namely Senator Smart Adeyemi and Mt Olarenwaju Suraju, Chairman, Civil Society Network Against Corruption in letters dated May 9th 2019 and signed by the Secretary of the National Judicial Council on behalf of the Council", Ukweni pointed out.

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